The Bugatti EB 110 - from world beater to bankrupcy

After the end of World War II Bugatti were out of step with the mood of the times, which was austerity. There was no room in this new world for a manufacturer of cars as expensive as the ones that they made. Over the coming years a few attempts were made to relaunch the brand but none of them ever really succeeded. However in 1991 an Italian financier named Romano Artioli felt the time was now right to reintroduce supercars to potential buyers so he set about creating a car which, he imagined, would be the kind of car that Ettore Bugatti would have been proud of. His creation was the EB-110.

Did it look good?

The bodywork was low and sleek, and designed by several Italian designers. It looked good, with butterfly style doors à la Lamborghini. The interior finish was excellent, with a good range of instrumentation although the two occupants were somewhat cramped.

Was it powerful?

The EB – 110 was designed as a four-wheel-drive coupe which was to be the fastest production car in the world. It was centred on a freshly designed V12 3.5 litre engine with 60 valves in total and four turbo chargers; the end result produced a whopping 553 brake horsepower. The claimed top speed was 212 mph although road tests showed slightly less than this, at 206 mph. Artioli claimed that it would eventually reach 240 mph but this was never proven.

Did it handle well?

Power was transferred to all four of the wheels via a six speed gearbox and once the driver had got used to this unusual system the road handling was excellent. However, it was an extremely heavy car which took a lot of stopping; Formula One racing driver Michael Schumacher famously crashed one, and blamed the braking system for not being up to a car of such weight and power. Overall it was an excellent car; but the financing of it was all wrong. It had been built in a brand-new factory with all mod cons including air conditioning; and it was launched without, seemingly, any cares about expense. Costly parties were thrown for journalists, the vehicle was exhibited lavishly at expensive tradeshows, and the fortune was spent on glossy trade advertising materials. By now many observers were wondering just how this project was going to pay for itself!

Was it successful?

As a car it was undoubtedly an excellent product. It was extremely powerful and drove very well. However the selling price was ludicrously high. When this was added to the fact that the world was going through a financial downturn with little demand for supercars, and since Mr Artioli seemed a little, well, unfortunate at handling money, disaster came just four years later and the company went bankrupt. The newly built factory stood empty and there was no cash left in the coffers to satisfy the company's creditors.

How many were sold?

It was claimed that 154 cars in total were made and sold, but this has never been confirmed.