Rare Rides: The Forgotten Force of the 1993 Bugatti EB110

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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 French company (headquartered in Germany) 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. The Bugatti name was sold to luxury manufacturer Hispano-Suiza. 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 Bugatti since 1963 ended as the only Bugatti under the company’s third owner. 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.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • AZFelix AZFelix on Nov 08, 2018

    Brings back a fond memory seeing a silver example used as a prop for a custom mobile carrier/garage trailer at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale many years ago. Just a fancy bauble for an extraordinary toy hauler. It was in the elevated position on the rear lift. There may have been a 959 there too.

  • Phlipski Phlipski on Nov 10, 2018

    Wow! That thing has NOT aged well.... It looks like something Mosler tacked together...

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.