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How The Bugatti EB110 Destroyed A Millionaire's Fortune

By 1987 the Bugatti brand had had a chequered career. First founded by Italian born Ettore Bugatti, a car designer with a strong artistic background, the first cars were beautifully designed and highly successful on the race track. However after the death of Bugatti in 1947 the business went into slow decline, struggling financially until it was bought in 1963 principally for a branch of the business which created aeroplane parts. That was the end of Bugatti car manufacture for the time being.

Fast forward to 1987 and along came Italian multimillionaire Romano Artioli who had made his fortune selling Ferraris and Japanese cars. He was reputed to own a number of Bugattis and he bought the Bugatti trademark with the intention of restarting car manufacture.

The car was to be known as the EB110; the EB from Ettore's initials, and the 110 from the numbers of years between the launch date of the new car and his birth. No expense was to be spared.

A new factory was built and development work started. By 1989 the first prototypes were ready for testing. Artioli, however, was something of a perfectionist and there were numerous alterations by various designers before the Bugatti EB 110 GT was unveiled on 15 September 1991, on what would have been Ettore's 110th birthday.

This was a classic supercar. The cabin was luxurious with scissor doors. The carbon fibre monocoque chassis was built by Aerospatiale, the French aerospace manufacturer; the 553 bhp3.5 litre V 12 engine, with a total of 60 valves, had not one but four turbochargers; and self adjusting systems in the bodywork helped to keep the vehicle planted firmly on the road with optimum efficiency. Top speed was claimed to be 213 mph with 0-60 within 3.4 seconds.

As if that was not enough an EB110ss was created with power pushed up to 603bhp. One of these was bought by Formula One racing driver Michael Schumacher but he crashed it. This might've been a bad omen!

All this development work had cost a lot of money. They had also spent a great deal on developing a saloon version of the EB110, which only existed as a concept car. To compound the problem Artioli bought Lotus Cars; then much to his surprise found himself financially stretched. The company went bust in 1995, after just 150 EB100s had been built.

The Bugatti name is now owned by the Volkswagen Group, which created the awesome Veyron. Old Ettore would have been proud of that car.

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