Celebrating the Bugatti EB110's birthday in style in Campogalliano
The Bugatti EB110 is a peculiar automobile: not instantly attractive to the masses, perhaps, but a refined flavour for sophisticates. The EB110 is unquestionably automotive royalty – thoroughbred, authentic and iconic, this is automotive eccentricity at its finest. Unlike other supercars of its era, the design of the Bugatti EB110 has aged extremely well, growing ever more appealing, rather like a notable bottle of wine that gains flavour with the passing of time. The Bugatti EB110 is more industrial design than automotive design, and hence offers a clean, pure harmony that outlives trends and fashion.
It’s an automobile packed with generation-leaping technology in a surprisingly compact package: carbonfibre chassis, four-wheel drive and four turbochargers – three DNA ingredients that still characterise any modern Bugatti today – combined with 5-valve-per-cylinder technology (that’s 60 valves in total), a gear-driven engine and 6-speed gearbox, in a common block. The EB110 was not only revolutionary in its production, it also set records: four world speed records in period, one remaining unbeaten for almost two decades.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Bugatti EB110. While the current owner of the brand missed the opportunity to arrange a celebration, it was – and think about this for a minute – left to the in-period caretaker of La Fabbrica Blu, the famous ‘Blue Factory’ where the car was built, and his son to organise an event that would put an OEM to shame. Seeing it as their selfless duty to raise the flag high, they called upon Bugatti EB110 owners worldwide to attend a family get-together in Campogalliano – with former employees and friends – to remember the automotive milestone that was the Bugatti EB110.
The organisers’ initial plan was to motivate 30 owners to join – 30 cars representing the 30 years – a target that soon became apparent was overly ambitious, considering it would represent around 25% of total production. In the end, this did not matter. Doors raised skywards, like candles on a cake, the dozen Bugatti EB110s that paid tribute to Romano Artioli and other significant protagonists present on the day – including Giampaolo Benedini and Loris Bicocchi – paraded through the streets of Campogalliano behind a police escort, and unveiled a celebratory plaque in the town centre on the way.
The most significant examples of the Bugatti EB110 joined the 30th anniversary event: notably the two last Works racing cars of the Bugatti brand, the EB110 LM and EB110 SC, plus the original production prototype unveiled in Paris in 1991 by Renata Kettmeir and Alain Delon that marked the return of the Bugatti brand almost 15 years prior to the Bugatti Veyron. Quality over quantity was displayed in front of La Fabbrica Blu, with the proud mayor of Campogalliano, Paola Guerzoni, seemingly overwhelmed by emotion following her ride in the 1994 Bugatti Le Mans race car.
It was a mesmerising moment to witness and perhaps the best possible consolation prize for anyone not present at the original, astonishing unveiling of the Bugatti EB110. It makes one wonder at the power of the Bugatti flame that burned so brightly in the early 1990s, given that it’s still blazing three decades later. Will the brand, under new ownership, be in a position to reignite the fire for another generation of employees? Will they show the same dedication to their president and their product, three decades on? The Bugatti EB110 is one special automobile, but even more so are the men and women who created it.
Text: Chris Hrabalek Fotos: Rémi Dargegen for Classic Driver © 2021