If the Bugatti EB110 Was Front-Engined, It Would Look Like a Corvette
We’re still waiting for GM to make a quad-turbo Corvetteby Michael Fira, on LISTEN 05:12
The Bugatti EB110 was one of the wildest supercars to come out of the ’90s. The use of not one, not, two, but four turbochargers never made any sense but, under the leadership of Romano Artioli, it got made anyway to mark the 110th birthday of Ettore Bugatti.
It was luxurious on the inside and, just like in the case of its peers from McLaren or Ferrari, that ludicrous engine sat behind the driver. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if Don Panoz had revived Bugatti instead? Yasid Design writes alternative history.
The Corvette-ized Bugatti
Back in the ’20s and ’30s, Bugatti knew how to make one of two things: you could either get a fast, lightweight sports car or Grand Prix open-wheeler from Ettore’s company or a limo as long as a bus in the form of the ultra-luxurious Type 41 Royale. Both ends of the Bugatti spectrum were, then, just as ludicrous.
Sadly, this business model drove Bugatti into the ground but, decades later, the future saviour of Lotus decided to revive Molsheim’s most famous automaker and that’s how the ’Italian Bugatti’ came to being.
So Italian, in fact, that ex-Lamborghini Chief Engineer Paolo Stanzani was handpicked to lead the project and along with Stanzani came a handful of engineers that had also been heavily involved with Lamborghini back in the '60s and '70s working on the Miura.
Bertone and Giugiaro both sent in design proposals as did Marcello Gandini, the designer of the Miura (see where this is going?) and it was Gandini’s design, somewhat inspired by the wedge-shaped Cizeta V16 he’d done before, that won the day, at first.
While Lamborghini’s old guard, banded together under the Technostile banner, was busy developing the underpinnings of the car, Artioli stepped in to change its looks. Gandini responded to the boss’ critique by coming up with a second design but that too was rejected and a frustrated Gandini left the project. Soon after, Stanzani was out of the picture as well when Artioli argued against the use of an aluminum honeycomb chassis.
In the end, Gianpaolo Benedini, the designer of the factory in which the EB110 was to be assembled, restyled the car to suit Artioli’s wishes and Niccola Materazzi, the Chief Engineer of the 288 GTO and the F40, was brought in to design a carbon fiber monocoque that was manufactured by Aerospatiale.
While Materazzi too came at odds with Artioli, calling the EB110’s engine configuration "stupid" in later years, he was able to fix most of the things that were wrong with the first test mules including high-speed instability, an understeer-y behavior when cornering, and a poor setup of the AWD system (he re-calculated the front-to-rear torque distribution). After all was said and done, the EB110 was unveiled to the world at both the Versailles and in front of the Grande Arche de la Défense, near Paris, on September the 15th 1991, the day Ettore was born back in 1881.
The 3.5-liter quad-turbo V-12 in the EB110 put out 553 horsepower but, six months after its introduction, Bugatti upped the ante with the Super Sport version that was unveiled at the 1992 Geneva Auto Show.
With a taller rear wing and revised air inlets, the Super Sport looked even more menacing and there was a reason for it: the engine’s output was raised all the way to 603 horsepower making a top speed of 221 mph possible. 0-60 mph was done and dusted in about three seconds despite the fact that the power was dispatched to the wheels through a five-speed manual transmission.
|Engine:||3.5-liter quad-turbo V-12 engine|
|Horsepower:||552 horsepower (EB110 GT) / 603 horsepower (EB110 SS)|
|Torque:||451 pound-feet of torque (EB110 GT) / 479 pound-feet of torque (EB110 SS)|
|0 to 60 MPH:||4.4 seconds (EB110 GT) / 3.2 seconds (EB110 SS)|
|Top speed:||216 MPH (EB110 GT) / 221 MPH (EB110 SS)|
Michael Schumacher was a fan and bought a yellow Super Sport with the money he’d earned driving for Flavio Briatore’s Benetton F1 team. The publicity was good but with a sticker price of $350,000 at a time when the world was going through a financial crisis, the EB110 was always going to be a hard sell. Artioli made matters worse by spending money on the development of another car, the EB112, and then by purchasing Lotus and developing the Elise. Soon enough, the ’Blue Factory’ closed its doors and the Italian chapter of Bugatti came to a sad end.
But what if that Italian chapter would’ve instead featured the development of a front-engined supercar? In the fourth episode of ’Followers’ Car’ Yasid gives us a glimpse of how an EB110 could’ve looked had Artioli ordered his men to put the engine in front of the driver.
All you have to do to turn the EB110 into an FMR machine is this: extend the front overhangs a bit as well as the space behind the front wheel wells and basically chop the tail section to make it look like a grand tourer and you’re golden.
As you’ll see if you watch the video, even Yasid isn’t sure what to think of his own creation but it’s clearly different, whether that’s good or bad is up for debate and we encourage you to comment what you think about this wild creation!