When most of us think of Bugatti, the first thing that comes to mind are the blisteringly quick Veyron or Chiron models. These hypercars not only take you to record-breaking speeds in seconds- they allow you to do so from a cocoon of luxury and opulence. But before these world-beating cars were conceived, there was another even rarer Bugatti that revived the brand in the 1990s – the EB110.
If you thought the Veyron and the Chiron were rare, the EB110, of which only 150 were ever made, makes them look as common as a Camry. You’re in luck, however, as an EB110 in the signature Bugatti Blue colour has recently gone up for auction and could be yours if you have a spare $2,000,000 to $2,500,000 (£1,500,000 to £1,850,000) lying around.
The 1990s was a time when many manufacturers were dipping their toes into supercar territory, from lesser-known marques like Vector to more famous brands like Jaguar. In 1992, Jag’s XJ220 was the fastest car in the world for a very brief moment, until the Bugatti EB110 super sport came along with a top speed of 218mph and held that crown until the McLaren F1 took it in 1993.
After the death of founder Ettore Bugatti in 1947, Bugatti was pretty inactive until the mid-80s when it was bought by Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli (he went on to own Lotus, as we covered recently). The EB110 is the result of his attempt to revive the brand, so it’s an important part of Bugatti history.
The Bugatti EB110 GT is powered by a 3.5-litre V12 engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. That might sound a little small for a 12-cylinder engine, but it also had four turbochargers bolted on to help it produce around 550bhp and a four-wheel drive system to make the most of the output. Those numbers might not sound impressive by modern standards when a modern Audi RS6 is capable of nearly 600bhp, but EB110’s 550bhp and top speed of around 213mph were considered other-worldly in the early 90s.
Unlike an Audi RS6, you’ve probably never seen an EB110 in the wild, but if you have, you’re likely to never forget it. It’s full of cool features typical of low-volume 90s supercars like Lamborghini-style scissor doors and a retractable rear wing that raises up when the car turns on, providing a sense of presence anywhere it goes.
This particular Bugatti EB110 is an even more special promotional prototype model which was mostly used at exhibitions, including the 1992 Bologna Motor Show, and has been kept in near showroom quality since with just 1,095 kilometres (around 680 miles) on the clock. While many prototypes are driven hard during the developmental phase, this is one of a small number of EB110 prototypes that were hardly used at all, so this unique 90s supercar can be considered pretty much new.
Unfortunately, the revived Bugatti brand went out of business again in the late nineties, and the company’s assets were sold to private buyers, including this prototype model. The car was registered in Italy, then sold to a buyer in Switzerland in 2000 who owned it for 12 years and exhibited the car in Monaco Motor Museum in 2012. It was then advertised for sale a year later in the Netherlands, serviced in Germany in 2014 and then sold to a collector in Chicago in 2015.
This example is up for auction via RM Sotheby’s in Amelia Island, Florida on 5 March 2022, with an estimated sale price ranging from $2,000,000 to $2,500,000 (£1,500,000 to £1,850,000). For anyone with a couple million bucks to spare, it could be worth it for this ultra-rare supercar from a bygone era that brought Bugatti’s name back into the fore and clearly spiked the interest of future buyers Volkswagen Group.