The Chiron’s Granddaddy still has what it takes.
The Bugatti EB110 was one of the great ‘90s supercars, yet thanks to a global recession, ambitious pricing and the pesky McLaren F1, it never quite lived up to expectations. 28-years on it remains an impressive engineering feat and Jay Leno was very pleased to have EB110 owner Steffan Frisk bring his blue 1993 example round to his garage.
Jay has a number of other Bugattis but he has never owned one of these cars although, being Jay, he does own a complete EB110 engine which was on display next to the car. The brainchild of Italian businessman Romano Artioli, the EB110 was his attempt to bring the once famous Bugatti name back to challenge the world’s top supercar manufacturers.
Not having any ties to the company meant that getting this upstart supercar accepted was one of the first hurdles but no cost was spared to build it in a way that Ettore himself would have approved of.
The EB in the car’s name stood for Ettore Buggati while 110 was the number of years since the great designer’s birth. Romano Artilio himself was nothing if not ambitious, the EB110 was designed fresh from the ground up, the 3.5-liter quad-turbo V12 was unrelated to any other engine out there and produced 552 horsepower, while a more powerful SS variant introduced a year later made an even more impressive 592 hp.
The car featured a full carbon fiber chassis, one of the very first vehicles to do so, and its four-wheel-drive system was very advanced too although it still used a manual transmission which will appeal to the purists.
The modern-day Veyron and Chiron may not be directly related to this car, but their basic layouts do have more than just a little bit in common. Artioli invested (and in the end lost) most of his fortune into developing this car and although it was never a commercial success, the EB110 was a very impressive engineering feat. It was capable of a true 213 mph in standard form while the 0-60 mph time was just under 4 seconds, enough to take on almost anything from its era.
Jay found the 28-year-old car to be a comfortable cruiser and it still had enough power to break traction on all four wheels when pushed. The EB110 has not always been regarded as a true Bugatti by certain enthusiasts but it has certainly come of age and is now accepted into the Bugatti Club of America.
Sadly, due to a variety of factors, the company declared bankruptcy in 1995 and only 139 EB110s were built. There were big plans to introduce a four-door variant as well as a targa but these came to nothing. However, the EB110 did live on for a bit longer thanks to German company Dauer which developed its own models from the remaining stock for a few more years. The extremely rare Edonis supercar was also heavily based on the EB110.
Volkswagen ended up buying the Bugatti name and distribution rights as well as a few cars, quite likely for testing and research purposes in preparation for their own upcoming 1,000-hp hypercar.
While the EB110 was never officially imported into the States, there are around 15 currently in America but as they now fall under the 25-year classic car import rule we may see a few more making it over from Europe. Values for the best examples are now pushing $1,000,000, a good sign that collectors are finally recognizing the EB110 for what it is, a fascinating piece of automotive history.