Long before Bugatti released the record breaking Veyron, it produced a slightly less famous supercar. It’s the angular two-door which was simultaneously the beginning and end of an era in Bugatti’s history.
It’s the EB110, from 1993.
Bugatti got its start in 1909 with founder Ettore Bugatti at the helm. The Italian company built various roadsters, touring cars, and an expensive luxury saloon at the height of the Great Depression. After spending most of the 1940s not producing anything, Bugatti managed three more cars through the Fifties before calling it quits in 1963. Everything was quiet until 1987, when Bugatti emerged under a new owner — Romano Artioli. Mr. Artioli had big plans for his new asset, and set to work on a brand new supercar.
That car was the EB110, and it debuted in Paris on September 15, 1991. The date was significant: it was exactly 110 years after the birth of Ettore Bugatti (1881-1947). The car was significant, as well. In true supercar form, the engine resided in the middle of the car, boasting 12 cylinders.
Each of those cylinders enjoyed five valves and their own throttle body. Straddling the engine, quad turbochargers encouraged things to move along a bit faster. Though displacing just 3.5 liters, 552 horsepower was extracted from this Italian power plant, and all of that power was distributed to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. 0-60 miles an hour passed in just 4.4 seconds. The EB110 would travel on to a top speed of 210 miles an hour.
The EB110 was joined in Bugatti showrooms (wherever those were…) by a more powerful brother known as SS. That one turned up the boost, increasing horsepower to 592 and the top speed to 216. Impressed, Michael Schumacher bought one for himself, bringing media attention to the company. Bugatti also raced the EB110 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1994, and at 24 Hours of Daytona in 1996. Meanwhile, a recession set in across North America and Europe, and there were a few problems over at the bank.
In 1995, Mr. Artioli decided one auto brand was not enough for him, and decided to purchase struggling automaker Lotus. At the same time, Bugatti was dumping dollars into the EB112 sedan. Something had to give, and that something ended up being everything. In September 1995, Bugatti ceased all operations and declared bankruptcy.
Lotus was eventually sold to Malaysian automaker Proton. A furniture company purchased Bugatti’s factory, and then went bankrupt itself before it started producing any cars. Again, Bugatti entered a state of slumber, falling into the careful hands of Volkswagen in 1998.
The first Italian Bugatti since 1963 ended as the very last Italian Bugatti. This silver over grey example, which originated in Japan, was for sale on eBay recently, asking the noble sum of $975,000. And it sold.