Bugatti

and their cars

winning flag

EB110


In 1939 Ettore Bugatti's son Jean was test driving a Type 57C which had just come first at Le Mans when he had to swerve to avoid running over a drunken cyclist who should never have been on the closed road in the first place. The car crashed and Jean was killed. Ettore was distraught and company finances went into freefall. During the war the factory in Molsheim was wrecked and the company was forced to give it up. As an Italian, and on the losing side in the war, Ettore's property in Alsace was confiscated by the French state. It seemed that things could not get worse but they did. His mental state declined – he possibly had what we would now call Alzheimer's - and in August 1947 he died. Without the two leading lights the company struggled on but by 1963 car manufacture had ended and it was bought for it's aeroplane parts branch. That seemed to be the end of Bugatti cars.

Fast forward to 1987 when an Italian entrepreneur called Romano Artioli, who had made a fortune selling Suzuki and Ferrari cars, felt that the time was right to resurrect the brand and pay due homage to the founder. He decided to build the ultimate supercar. He reckoned that he could launch it on the 110th anniversary of Ettore's birth. What to call it? EB110, of course; EB being Ettore Bugatti's initials.

Not one to do things by halves, Artioli assembled a team of some of the finest engineers and designers and built a new factory. No expense was spared. Unfortunately he had a good business head on his shoulders but his man management skills were lacking. He fell out repeatedly with his design team but eventually a superb car was produced.

The EB110 was a two-door coupe with a 3.5 litre 16 valve V12 engine incorporating four turbochargers producing a total output of 553 hp. It could reach 213 mph and scorch from a standing start to 60 mph in less than 3 1/2 seconds. To keep weight down as well as to provide stiffness and strength it had a carbon fibre monocoque chassis, an innovative all wheel drive system to provide excellent handling, active aerodynamics by means of a self adjusting spoiler, large windows to the front and side and scissor doors. This was one superb motorcar.

It was first displayed to the world in 1991 on 15 September, exactly 110 years after Ettore Bugatti was born. This was followed by a launch event in Paris to which 1800 guests were invited and more than 1000 bottles of champagne were consumed. The car was well and truly launched – at an eye watering £316,000 each.The EB110 was a two-door coupe with a 3.5 litre 16 valve V12 engine incorporating four turbochargers producing a total output of 553 hp. It could reach 213 mph and scorch from a standing start to 60 mph in less than 3 1/2 seconds. To keep weight down as well as to provide stiffness and strength it had a carbon fibre monocoque chassis, an innovative all wheel drive system to provide excellent handling, active aerodynamics by means of a self adjusting spoiler, large windows to the front and side and scissor doors. This was one superb motorcar.

Just six months later an even more powerful one was launched. This time the engine put out 603 hp and the weight was reduced even further by using carbon fibre body panels both internally and externally. Maximum speed went up to 221 mph with nought to 62 mph (i.e.0-100 km/h) in 3.2 seconds. Racing driver Michael Schumacher bought a yellow one which was good publicity for the company but he crashed it in 1994, blaming brake fade. That wasn't the only crash on the horizon however.

Artioli had invested heavily in a proposed four-door car and he had also bought Lotus Cars. The EB 110 was not selling well – around 150 only were sold – and suppliers were not happy with the way that the company had treated them. By 1995, although Artioli started out as a very wealthy man, the cash was running out fast and soon the company was bankrupt.

The Bugatti name lived on however and was eventually bought by Volkswagen – more about that on the next page!

Next Bugatti - the Veyron


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