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The Bugatti EB 110: A Tumultuous, All-Too-Brief Path

All things Bugatti EB 110 on Automobile.

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Bugatti EB110 Essential History

Bugatti Reborn

As we mentioned in our brief history of the Bugatti Veyron, the Volkswagen-backed effort wasn't the first time the Bugatti name resurfaced after its original dissolution in 1952. Aside from a failed attempt to relaunch the nameplate by the remaining members of the Bugatti family in the mid-1950s, famed American designer Virgil Exner drafted a series of "revival" cars in 1963 bearing the badges of bygone brands like Bugatti, Duesenberg, Stutz, and Packard. Nothing came of the Bugatti concept, though his Stutz design eventually became a reality with the resurrected brand offering a range of strange neoclassical designs.

After no one bit on a Bugatti rebirth in 1963, the marque lay dormant until highly successful Italian businessman and entrepreneur Romano Artioli teamed up with former Lamborghini engineer and designer Paolo Stanzani and French professor and historian Jean-Marc Borel to exhume the Bugatti crest from hibernation. Along with a team of engineers and employees sourced from Maserati, Ferrari, and Lamborghini, Artioli acquired the rights to the Bugatti name and founded Bugatti Automobili S.p.A. in 1987.

Bugatti EB 110 GT

After constructing a fabulously modern and beautifully designed factory and headquarters in Campogalliano—a municipality of Modena, Italy—the all-star team went to work on a world-beating supercar. Following a frenzy of developmental work and testing, the EB 110 GT landed like a meteor in late 1991 at an opulent debut event hosted in front of Versailles. The name? Chosen to honor the 110th birthday of the Bugatti marque's late founder and patriarch, Ettore Bugatti.

Both mechanically and spiritually, the EB 110 GT ticked all the right industry-leading supercar boxes. That rounded low-cut bodywork penned by both Marcello Gandini and Giampaolo Benedini hid some contemporarily cutting-edge tech, including a carbon fiber monocoque, active aero, and all-wheel drive. A 3.5-liter quad-turbo 60-valve V-12 spit out 553 hp and 451 lb-ft of torque, managed by a six-speed manual transmission, allowing for a 0-60 mph sprint in the mid-to-low three-second range, with a top speed of 212 mph. If this wasn't enough, the EB 110 Super Sport arrived six months later in 1992. Down some 330 pounds and up 50 hp to 603 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, the EB 110 SS was capable of a 3.2-second 0-60 charge and a top speed of 221 mph.

Bugatti Closure, Dauer Sportwagen

Unfortunately, a global financial crisis and a hefty $350,000 price tag dashed Bugatti S.p.a's chances at real success, eventually shuttering the plant in 1995 after only 139 EB 110s were produced. The remaining unfinished cars and component stock was sold to Dauer Sportwagen in Germany, which completed four Bugatti-branded EB 110s before launching a small series of Dauer-branded cars, most of which incorporated significant upgrades to the V-12 engine, increasing output to over 700 hp.

Bugatti EB 110 Highlights

Since the day Bugatti Automobili S.p.a turned the lights off, the story of the EB 110 has remained one of the automotive world's great "what-ifs." It was a perfect storm of a legendary nameplate, an all-star development team, lofty aspirations, excellent attention to detail, and one of the greatest modern automotive factories ever built, and it tugs at our hearts to think about what may—or may not have—come of Bugatti if it had survived in that Italian iteration.

What few EB 110s that did make it out of Modena are arguably the most meticulously engineered and cutting-edge supercars of the 1990s, short of the indomitable McLaren F1. Reading through the development history of the EB 110 is like sifting through NASA documents; it used a carbon fiber monocoque when most supercars rode on aluminum or steel chassis, it had a proprietary small-displacement V-12 with a quad-turbo setup when most supercars were still naturally aspirated, and a complex all-wheel-drive system matched only by the contemporary Lamborghini Diablo VT.

Owing to Bugatti Automobili's ephemeral existence, low production numbers, and the later explosive influence of the Volkswagen-owned Bugatti S.A.S, EB 110s have long languished in obscurity, much like the XJ220 has for Jaguar. It's only in the past few years that Artioli's vision of what a modern Bugatti should be has gained recognition among enthusiasts. Even the current Bugatti is beginning to pay homage to the EB 110, most notably with the recent Bugatti Centodieci.

Bugatti EB 110 Buying Tips

We regret to inform you that much like many other collector-grade cars in recent years, you missed the boat on a cheap EB 110. There was a time when the rare Bugatti was obtainable for around a quarter-of-a-million bucks, but in the decade since, values have risen, with prices now typically hovering around the $700,000 to $1,000,000 mark for an EB 110 GT, and between $1.5 million to $2 million-plus for one of the even-rarer Super Sports.

Maintenance-wise, a small group of former Bugatti engineers and employees formed B Engineering in Italy, which continues to service and support the EB 110, but if you're one of the few owners Stateside, good luck. Either prepare to ship your car overseas every time it needs something major, or roll the dice and take it to a specialty supercar shop somewhere in your vicinity. Bespoke trim and cast parts are likely non-existent at this point, but as we discovered in our supercar maintenance feature, some of the core componentry, like turbochargers and some of the ignition system, are basically off-the-shelf parts.

If you have a particular EB 110 in mind, do make sure to get a full service and ownership history before you bid (or write the check). As always, a pre-purchase inspection is a must for a car of this caliber.

Bugatti EB 110 Articles on Automobile

We've had precious few brushes with the Bugatti EB 110, but we're hoping to change that in the near future. Until then, check out our past coverage of this alluring 1990s supercar.

We look back on the evolution of the Bugatti brand as a whole during the heyday of the Veyron.

Our in-depth look at the $8 million Bugatti Centodieci EB 110 homage.

Bugatti EB 110 Recent Auctions

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Bugatti EB 110 Quick Facts

  • First year of production: 1991
  • Last year of production: 1995
  • Total production: 139
  • Original price: $350,000
  • A flash-in-the-pan pack-leading supercar finally gets its due
  • Buy now, as prices are only on the rise

Bugatti EB 110 FAQ

You have questions about the Bugatti EB 110. Automobile has answers. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked EB 110 queries

What does the "EB" stand for?

It honors the founder of the Bugatti marque, Ettore Bugatti.

When was the EB 110 made?

Only 139 of these beauties were made between 1991 and 1995.

How fast is the EB 110?

Bugatti's claimed top speed for the regular EB 110 GT was 212 mph, while the more powerful Super Sport climbed to 221 mph.