The most famous of all Bugattis is undoubtedly the Veyron. Every year it is referenced in numerous hip-hop tracks as the ultimate status symbol.
“I woke up in the new Bugatti” Ace Hood
The Bugatti EB110 is the Veyron’s less famous older brother. If cars had feelings the EB110 might feel a little underappreciated. Its younger brother, the Veyron, is the crowned prince of high prices and top speeds. The EB110 was the first step towards creating the brand we all know today, and hip-hop loves today. The Veyron has German VW blood running through its veins but its older brother was Italian at heart.
Ettore Bugatti was born in Milan, Italy in 1881. Despite being from a family of artists, Bugatti had a passion for automobiles. With funding from his father, Bugatti developed a prototype and took it to the Milan Trade Fair in the Spring on 1901. This prize-winning exhibit got Bugatti his first of many jobs designing automobiles.
It wasn’t until 1909 that Bugatti established Automobiles E. Bugatti in the Germany. They had a reputation for being the fastest, most luxurious and technologically advanced machines on the road. The first winner of the Monaco Grand Prix was behind the wheel of a Bugatti.
In August of 1939 Bugatti’s son Jean Bugatti was killed during the testing of the Bugatti Type 57. It was the beginning of the end for Automobiles E. Bugatti. World War II destroyed the Bugatti factory, and control of the property was lost.
After the War Bugatti planned on reemerging with a new series of cars built near Paris. In 1947 while he was in the midst of developing a 375 cc supercharged car, Bugatti passed away. Without the company’s founder, Automobiles E. Bugatti’s business declined rapidly. The last appearance the original company made was at the Paris Motor Show in 1952.
THE NEXT STEP
In the late 80’s the Bugatti name was making headlines. A 1931 Bugatti Royale was sold by Christie’s London auction house for a staggering $9.8 Million. It was clear that the Bugatti name still had tremendous value as a luxury brand. It just needed the right owner.
Romano Artioli had a passion for collecting cars and made a fortune as a dealer exporting Ferraris to Germany and importing Suzukis to Italy. In the early 1990’s, Artioli had a vision for a new kind of supercar. Artioli acquired the right to the Bugatti name and set out to create a monster. Artili, being a billionaire with considerable resources, set his sights on creating a car that would surpass both Ferrari and Lamborghini in every way possible
As billionaires often do, Artili wanted to recruit the best car designer in the world to bring his new passion project to life. The best was a man named Marcello Gandini. His resume included all of Lamborghini’s most famous bulls: the Miura, Diablo and Countach. What everyone calls “Lamborghini Doors” was actually first used on an Alfa Romeo Carabo concept car Gandini created in 1968 (he referred to them as scissor doors)
“THE GOALS WERE AMBITIOUS, BUT WE HAD A FANTASTIC LARGE TECHNICAL TEAM WHO CAME FROM MASERATI, FERRARI AND LAMBORGHINI. “
– Loris Bicocchi, Chief Bugatti test driver
In the 1930s Bugatti had established itself as the muscle of its day. Gandini and a handful of Italian engineers from Maserati, Ferrari and Lamborghini dedicated themselves honoring that reputation and taking it one step further. They built their factory near Modena, Italy close to Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati… It was and still is the “Silicon Valley of Supercars.” The Bugatti campus was an impressive 14,000 square feet that housed two windowless buildings for development and testing, two 3-story glass-walled buildings that served as corporate headquarters and two buildings for assembly, production and of course a surrounding test track. It was the “Bugatti of factories.” Its most interesting (and most prized) feature was the original Automobiles E. Bugatti factory door.
The result of their focus was the EB110. The name honored Bugatti’s namesake Ettore Bugatti and debuted on his 110th birthday. You may have wondered why contemporary Bugattis have a logo that resembles a backward E connected to a B. That logo honors Bugatti’s original founder.
The EB110 assembled all the best of what was available in the world. It was an advanced supercar using the most sophisticated materials and technology… it was a prodigy for its time. The 3.5-liter V12 engine featured four turbochargers and delivered 560 horsepower to an all-wheel-wheel drive set up. To keep weight under aluminum body panels were mounted on a carbon fiber chassis. This combination of power and weight management took the EB110 from zero to 60 in the low three-second range and screamed to top speed of 212 mph.
The EB110 was an instant success when it went into production in 1991 and its top seed promptly set a record for a production car. It had earned its place at the top of the prestigious supercar club and became a favorite among those with a need for speed.
Bugatti halted production of the EB110 in 1995 after only 139 were produced. A recession hit Japan and Europe hard and soften the market for supercars. It didn’t help matters that Artioli got involved in a doomed purchase of Lotus (Elise was his granddaughter’s name).
In 1998 the Volkswagen Group bought the rights to the Bugatti name and launched the Veyron in 2005. Clearly Volkswagen took Artili’s vision of creating a top-flight supercar to heart.
Pictured in Bugatti Blue
3.5-liter Quad-Turbo V12
Power: 560 hp,
Zero to 60 mph: 3.2 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 9.6 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 12.8 sec
(Top speed: 212 mph)