Since it acquired Bugatti in the late 1990s, Volkswagen Group has done an impressive job of returning the French brand to the pinnacle of performance and luxury in the car world.
However, VW’s wasn’t the first attempt at returning Bugatti to its glory days of the 1920s and ’30s.
You see, long before there was the Veyron, there was the EB110. It was built during the 1990s when Bugatti was under the stewardship of Italian Romano Artioli, an industrialist who revived the brand which had previously been dormant since 1952. He’s also the guy behind the Lotus Elise, but that’s another story.
At Bugatti, Artioli oversaw the development of the EB110, a mid-engine supercar launched in 1991 with carbon fiber construction, a quad-turbocharged V-12, and all-wheel drive. It’s a format VW would mimic for the Veyron, though VW upped the cylinder count from 12 to 16 in a quest for serious power.
A prime example of the EB110 recently visited Jay Leno’s Garage. Naturally, Leno was ecstatic, as he’s an owner of a classic Bugatti and for some reason the engine and transmission of an EB110, too.
The engine is a 3.5-liter V12, which (thanks to its four turbos) pumps out 552 horsepower in standard guise and 592 hp in the EB110 Super Sport. Even with the lower setting, the EB110 is capable of 0-60 mph acceleration in the low three-second range and a top speed of over 200 mph. Those are impressive numbers, even by today’s standards.
Sadly, only around 120 examples were built while Artioli was in charge of Bugatti, though a few additional examples were built in subsequent years using spare chassis. These include the handful built by Germany’s Dauer. Some chassis are also being used for a car known as the SP-110 Edonis Fenice that was announced for production only last year.