|Vehicle:||1994 Bugatti EB110 GT|
|Number Produced:||154 officially|
|Original List Price:||approx. $250,000|
|Tune Up Cost:||N/A|
|Chassis Number Location:||In door jamb|
|Engine Number Location:||Don't remember|
|Alternatives:||Porsche 959, other European supercars importable under "Gates Law."""|
This car sold for $164,980 at the Bonhams & Brooks Olympia auction held December 4, 2000, in London.
Sic transit gloria mundi or, if you haven’t suffered through years of Latin in high school, “How the mighty have fallen.”
Long before it became fashionable for car makers to buy the names of defunct automotive icons and put them on their best offerings, an Italian industrialist, Romano Artioli, had a brainstorm. In 1987 he bought the rights to the Bugatti name and logo for an undisclosed sum. Production of a car named EB110 was scheduled for 1991, EB being Le Patron Ettore Bugatti’s initials and the number 110 to commemorate his birth in 1881.
The brisk trade and easy profits on Porsche 959 delivery contracts probably had more to do with the production date than any tribute to Bugatti, but whatever the reasons, in 1991 a supercar to top all supercars appeared on the drawing board. Specs included a carbon fiber chassis, huge disc brakes with ABS, constant four-wheel drive (torque distribution 25% front, 75% rear) and a superlative V12 twin-cam engine with five valves per cylinder, four IHI turbos and Bosch injectors. This imposing sculpture was in unit with the six-speed gearbox, and required three torque-splitting differentials and a transfer case, along with whatever else was needed to make the complex arrangement work.
The alloy body, over carbon fiber structural members, was typical of the wind-tunnel school of design and was fronted by a minuscule caricature of the classic Bugatti radiator grille. It was said to be designed by Gandini. The body was actually developed in Toulouse by Aerospatiale France SA (of Concorde and Airbus fame).
Two models were produced: the EB110 GT (with “only” 560 horsepower at 8,000 rpm, it must have been a stripped-down economy model) and the EB110 SS (610 horsepower at 8,250 rpm, for the man who has everything). Neither car was a featherweight; the GT tipped the scales at about 3,500 pounds and the SS was only 100 pounds lighter.
When the first prototype appeared at the Paris Auto Show in 1991, Dottore Artioli got busy selling Bugatti boutique franchises to the Japanese and to other Pacific Rim hot spots. He provided them with scarves, ashtrays and other knick-knacks decorated with Bugatti emblems. The usual hype followed: the car was tested at over 212 mph and did 0 to 60 in 3.4 seconds. Michael Schumacher begged Flavio Briatore (Benetton) for one and finally got it.
Sales appeared brisk for both cars and boutique franchises, but by 1992 the bloom was off the rose. Nobody was selling anything, and at Monterey the dealers were wearing T-shirts that said “Will sell cars for food.” Most people knew that the “collector car” bubble had burst-most people, but not the bankers. Artioli flim-flammed his way till the end of 1994, and in ’95 his automobile company went belly-up. That skillful dodger Artioli had the last laugh, though; his Bugatti International SA kept the name and the logo after bankruptcy proceedings, and it couldn’t have gone cheaply when he recently sold it to Volkswagen.
Is the car sold by Brooks worth $165K? Who can tell; when there are so few cars, and even fewer change hands, there is no “market price.” The “spot price” on that day and in that venue was $165K. The seller took it, wisely or otherwise, and that’s the Bugatti market for you. At least for that moment.-Raymond D. Milo
(Historical data and photo courtesy of auction company.)