Although the historical Bugatti brand had laid dormant since the shuttering of its doors in 1952, the late 1980s provided Italian Ferrari dealer Romano Artioli with the finances and motivation to create a new supercar. Artioli established the brand once more and in 1987 built an enormous, state of the art factory in Campogalliano outside Modena in Northern Italy.
After four years of development, the EB110 was revealed to the world for the first time on 15th September 1991, honouring 110 years since Ettore Bugatti was born.
A technological tour de force, the EB110 was equipped with a 3.5-litre mid-mounted V-12. Five valves per cylinder and four turbochargers meant the EB110 benefitted from 553 bhp in GT form, mated to a six-speed manual and four-wheel drive system. Penned by the inimitable Marcello Gandini and Giampalo Bendini, his striking, angular design really set the car apart from its rivals. The car’s technical know-how came from the brains behind Ferrari’s F40 – renowned master engineer Nicola Materazzi.
Whilst the brief had very much dictated class-leading performance, much like Bugattis of old the EB110 was very much designed to be a luxurious yet sporting automobile. A leather interior with wood trim meant it was well suited to longer journeys.
Six months after the launch of the GT, Artioli introduced the Supersport (SS) at Geneva in 1992. Revisions to the engine, ECU and exhaust meant that power was increased a considerable 60 bhp up to 610 bhp. At the same time, the aerodynamics were improved, the car gained new wheels and a rear spoiler, as well as distinctive circular vents behind the side windows in profile. Through the use of carbon-kevlar panels instead of lightweight aluminium, weight was dropped by 150 kg to just 1,400 kg, figures which are mighty impressive today and were more so for a 610 bhp supercar in 1992.
The Supersport was capable of 0-62 mph in just 3.26 seconds. The four-wheel-drive system, lower weight and increased power output gave the car the edge over the likes of Ferrari’s F50 and Porsche GT1. The top speed was a mind-blowing 221 mph. These improvements afforded the EB110 records for fastest acceleration, fastest series-production car and even fastest series-production car on ice.
Artioli had high hopes for the brand and it started to gain traction after the purchase of a Supersport by Michael Schumacher in 1994. The next step was to broaden the appeal with a right-hand drive offering and, in order, to raise the profile of the brand even more, the EB110 made a surprise appearance at the 24hrs of Le Mans, 55 years since Bugatti had raced at the circuit. The SS was the fastest qualifier in class, although a blowout in the final hour threw the car into the wall on the Mulsanne straight. A second race car was commissioned from its demonstrated abilities at Le Mans and raced in the USA in the IMSA championship.
In order to develop the right-hand drive version of the EB110 and Supersport, the factory kept this GT chassis number aside; 39055. Offering a right-hand drive version would enable significant sales in the UK and the far eastern markets; a move that would heavily bolster sales of the EB110 and ensure Bugatti’s long term financial stability. On October 18th 1994, the RHD EB110 was unveiled to the public at the British Motorshow.
At the time of its reveal, this EB110 was wearing a mix between GT and SS parts; notably a GT front bumper with no brake cooling vents, as well as some non-standard elements from the normal production. As the windows were electric, the door panels are without winders and the switch is located to the right of the steering wheel.
The interior featured a mirrored dashboard for the opposing layout. Some curiosities remained; it was fitted with Supersport-fitment Recaro bucket seats but the glovebox from the GT. This example was built in, and remains in, Grigio Chiaro. At the time of its reveal, the interior was finished in a darker blue with a silver contrasting stitch. Despite the right-hand drive layout, the dashboard was still completely trimmed with carbon fibre, unlike the wood of the GT-specification examples.
Most notably, however, this example has been powered by a prototype Supersport engine from build.
After the show, the EB110 went back to the factory and continued to form a significant part of the Supersport development for the far eastern market. The body of the car evolved, with the factory replacing of the front wings, now with added ventilation for the brakes. More surprisingly, the rear bodywork was updated to be the same as the first prototype for the US as the side reflectors remain in the rear bumper.Uniquely, as it was built using a GT as the basis, both the engine cover and battery cover open using releases – a far more convenient alternative to the glovebox-mounted screwdriver required on Supersport examples.
Ultimately Artioli’s over-ambitious plans were to be the company’s demise. After purchasing Lotus from General Motors, and attempting to develop the EB112 four-door saloon at the same time, funds ran out and the company was declared bankrupt.
A group of employees, along with former Bugatti vice-chairman Jean-Marc Borel, formed B-Engineering. At the time of the foreclosure auction, the parts were essentially split, with the spares, engines and unfinished monocoques being purchased by B- Engineering and Dauer. Along with the parts, B-Engineering also bought this car in the sale, chassis number GT055.
Having been used extensively by the factory as a prototype, naturally, it had seen a bit of a hard life and as such, B-Engineering stripped the car back and refinished it in its original Grigio Chiaro hue. At the same time, the wheels were replaced with newer items.
Borel sold the car in 2001 to its new owner. Shortly after receiving the car, it was sent to Dauer for a series of upgrades in line with their further development work on the EB110 after the bankruptcy. The interior was fully re-trimmed in a dual-tone Bugatti blue leather and the rear wing was replaced for the Dauer option which afforded the car two benefits – firstly greater downforce and stability, and secondly, a rear-view camera that sits below it and is linked to a display in the cabin.
Additionally, the EB110 saw a comprehensive mechanical overhaul of the engine and running gear; the engine was completely rebuilt, including receiving 12 new pistons and turbos, the shocks, springs, brake discs and pipes were also seen to along with all perished rubbers in the driveline. The upgrades and rebuild of the engine equalled an output above that of the Supersport; 645bhp vs the 610 bhp. .
Completing their works in 2005, the bill from Dauer came to £150,000! The car was only registered in the UK after the works were completed and the following year the car was re-registered with the rather fitting private registration – E811 OSS.
A unique proposition, this factory prototype offers the only means to enjoy a quad-turbo Bugatti in right-hand drive.
Offered today from a world leading collection of cars, this EB110 is available with just over 9,000 miles from new. Fresh from a major, engine-out service and turbocharger overhaul with marque specialist Furlonger Specialist cars, this fabulous EB110 presents as you would expect and is available to view by appointment at our showrooms outside London immediately.