Bugatti EB112: The V-12 Supersedan That Almost Made It to Production
A very cool, very ugly automotive flashback.
As of late, we just can't get enough of the Bugatti EB110 and the incredible company that spawned the innovative supercar. Bugatti Automobili—as opposed to today's Volkswagen-owned Bugatti Automobiles—remains one of the most romantic and incredible automotive efforts of the past 30 years; toward the end, the automaker was likely one lucky financial break from surviving. It was also close to introducing the Bugatti EB112, a car you may never have heard of, or forgotten all about.
Indeed, before the doors were padlocked at the incredible Campogalliano factory, Bugatti was hard at work on a handful of new models intended to create a multi-tiered lineup and to make strong inroads into the U.S. market. Aside from the mysterious and little-documented U.S.-specific Bugatti America model, the manufacturer was putting the finishing touches on the Bugatti EB112, a high-performance ultra-luxe supersedan poised to blow the doors off of any contemporary four-door from Bentley, Rolls-Royce, and Mercedes-Benz.
Kind of Elegant, Kind of Ugly
From the looks of the handful of finished prototypes, the Bugatti EB112 was only a few months away from production. It had all the right ingredients for success; the smooth, hump-back design was penned by Italdesign's Giorgetto Giugiaro, vaguely reminiscent of the irreproachable Type 57SC Galibier and Atlantic. The design went so far as to incorporate the iconic Bugatti "spine" that ran down the centerline, and modernized the mighty Royale's flat-dish wheels. Despite the impeccable Giugiaro pedigree and admirable generational callbacks, the lumpy, vaguely anonymous design hasn't aged well, and it remains much-rooted in the 1990s—not in a charming way, like the EB110.
Powering this behemoth was a proprietary 6.0-liter V-12 designed by former Ferrari engineer Mauro Forghieri, a massive leap in displacement from the EB110's 3.5-liter quad-turbo V-12. Power was reported to be a healthy 455 horsepower, managed by a six-speed manual transmission that when worked quickly enough shoved the two-ton beast from zero-to-60 mph in 4.4 seconds and provided a top speed of 186 mph—stunning stuff for such a massive sled.
Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
As cool as this might have been, the project couldn't have happened at a worst time. The Bugatti EB112 was slated for release sometime in 1995 or 1996, not long after the economic recession of the early 1990s. The supercar market of the time continued to reel due to ongoing low demand; automakers like Ferrari and Lamborghini stagnated, and the Bugatti EB112 likely wouldn't have made much sales headway even if it made it to production.
Before the project (and the company) was binned, the completed show car, prototypes, and spare parts were purchased by Gildo Pallanca Pastor. He commissioned his Monaco Racing Team facilities to complete two additional cars, one of which is occasionally seen prowling Monaco's streets.
Still, the possibility of a modern Bugatti four-door isn't dead-in-the-water yet. Aside from a handful of early four-door concepts showcased in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the fabulous Bugatti 16C Galibier concept from 2009 was the closest thing we've seen from the French nameplate's modern stewards. Of course, the manufacturer has confirmed it is hard at work on the first four-door Bugatti since the company went under in the early 1950s—in the form of a high-riding crossover-style grancoupe. Still, we'll from now on always remember the Bugatti EB112, and what might have been.