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Paying tribute to the extraordinary tale of the Bugatti EB110

At this weekend's Chantilly Arts & Elegance, the Bugatti EB110 will be celebrated with a special class. We spoke with Bugatti guru Julius Kruta who has just published the new bible about Bugatti's game-changing supercar.

The story of the Bugatti EB110 is one of the most interesting and turbulent tales in recent automotive history. In the late 1980s, the charismatic businessman Romano Artioli revived the mythical Bugatti brand and brought together Italy’s most talented automotive designers and engineers including Paolo Stanzani, Nicola Materazzi, and Marcello Gandini to create a game-changing supercar, the Bugatti EB110. The car was a 210mph, devilishly handsome, technological tour de force, with four-wheel drive, an aerospace-grade carbon-fibre chassis, and a 3.5-litre, five-valve-per-cylinder, quad-turbocharged V12 that developed 550HP. But after the company went bankrupt in 1995, the car was soon forgotten and outshone by it's Volkswagen-built successor, the Bugatti Veyron. 

Over the last decade, the Bugatti EB110 has returned to the limelight - first as a secret tip among collectors, and in recent years as a guaranteed high flyer at auctions worldwide, claiming new price records from sale to sale. At this year's Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Sale, a Bugatti EB110 Super Sport sold for $3.167m - a new benchmark. But that was not the only headline related to the Bugatti EB110 from Monterey this summer, as the first copy of the much anticipated book 'The EB110 & The Last Bugatti Racing Cars" published by Julius Kruta earned a staggering $46.000 for charity. Now the new Bugatti bible is available in the CD ShopWhen we heard that Julius had helped Peter Auto put together an EB110-only class for Chantilly, we gave him a call to learn more.

Julius, this weekend's Chantilly Arts & Elegance sees the very first time that the Bugatti EB110 is presented in a dedicated class at a Concours d'Elegance. What does this say about the relevance of the EB110 for Bugatti's history? 

I think it has become evident in the last couple of years, that the Bugatti EB110 is not only an essential milestone in the history of the supercar, and arguably the genesis of the Bugatti hypercar as we know it; carbonfibre chassis, 4 wheel drive, 4 turbo chargers, but also an automotive icon which formed the basis of the Bugatti that we know and love today.

Is the EB110 a real Bugatti? And if so, why?

The majority of all Bugatti owners and all Bugattisti would now argue that the EB110 is not only a real Bugatti, but the most authentic modern automobile ever to wear the famous red badge in the past 30 years. The Bugatti EB110 was the masterpiece and pinnacle of Romano Artioli’s holistic art - his vision of creating something incomparable - very much in the spirit of the marque founder, Ettore Bugatti.

In August this year you published the long anticipated book The EB110 & The Last Bugatti Racing Cars. It is now available in the CD Shop. Why is this the first book about the EB110 if this car is so important in the Bugatti history? 

Unlike the McLaren F1 or the Ferrari 250 GTO, the Bugatti EB110 is still very much of a ‘connoisseur’s automobile’. It is an automotive delicacy for the sophisticated gourmand and not the default investment for any contemporary billionaire. One of the reasons for this is the fact that, while the other two cars have been covered in plenty of literature, the Bugatti EB110 has very much remained a hidden gem. At the same time, the EB110 is in many ways of equal significance to the brand Bugatti as the aforementioned are of value to their respective brands, representing a crucial era in the brand's history.

Could the reader expect new findings, previously unknown information about the EB110 project? 

This very first book on the Bugatti EB110 is not a book…it is a bible; and I can assure you that even period protagonists will have the opportunity to discover new findings that he or she did not know about, both in stories, as well as hard facts with regard to unreleased documents and period photographs. The book features over 700 period images - the majority of which were previously unseen - and include gem snapshots, such as the signing of the purchase contract of the brand Bugatti, or the start of the very first post-war Bugatti engine.

How long did it take to gather all these unseen photos and drawings?

Honestly? It took what it feels like half a lifetime. The project of creating the ultimate Bugatti EB110 book started in 2013 - so nearly a decade ago - and even when we thought we had passed the finish line, during the books initial presentation at the 2020 Rétromobile in Paris, we were overwhelmed by the stories, documents and images we had received afterwards. So overwhelmed, that we decided to restart the race with the target to set a world record laptime, one that will now hopefully stand for decades.

How did the EB110 influenced your personal automotive interest? 

Admittedly, prior to this project my own passion and personal preference was towards Bugatti’s prewar efforts, primarily Bugatti’s Grand Prix cars and the Type 57S and Type 50 of the brand's heyday. However, having been exposed to the EB110 on all levels and spending time with the men and women that worked at La Fabbrica Blu and created this automotive icon, I can very much say I have been bitten by the bug (no pun intended). The Bugatti EB110 can best be compared to a bottle of exquisite fine wine, one that becomes better with age and increasingly scarce to source; thus adding into perfect perpetual motion of increased desirability. 

Can the Bugatti Veyron and Chiron also become icons such as the EB110? 

Without doubt. Particularly the Bugatti Veyron, which - like the Bugatti EB110 - was a genuine automotive game changer. Similar to Ferrari’s fabulous five, we can now see collectors that are on a particular hunt to add the Bugatti hypercar trinity to their collection, namely the Bugatti EB110 Supersport, Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, and Bugatti Chiron Super Sport. However, unlike the other pair, only 30-odd Bugatti EB110 Supersports were ever hand assembled and most of which have already been secured and are guarded by genuine Billionaires. This makes it increasingly difficult to discover this flawless blue diamond, in a time and world where automotive gemstones seem to be scattered about, like pebbles on a beach.

The must-have book about the Bugatti EB110

The book 'The EB110 & The Last Bugatti Racing Cars" published by Julius Kruta is now available in three limited editions in the CD Shop.