Test drivers Loris Bicocchi and Jean-Philippe Vittecoq also worked “in the field”. The final configuration of the EB110 featured a Nomex frame, a meta variant of para-aramid Kevlar. A brief parenthesis on Nomex will help to understand the technical reasons why Artioli insisted that the EB110 be fitted with a frame made of this type of material, despite the fact that his top-level expertise said otherwise. Aramid fibres are polymeric fibres characterised by a tensile mechanical strength comparable to that of the more common carbon fibres but by a lower average elastic modulus. On the other hand, due to their lower specific weight (1.4 g/cm3 vs. 1.8 g/cm3 of carbon), aramid fibres are characterised by a higher specific resistance, i.e. mechanical tensile strength in relation to the specific weight of the material. In other words, Nomex has a high-profile torsional rigidity in the field of chassis construction. It is clear, therefore, that Romano Artioli devoted a substantial part of his life to preparing for the project to bring Bugatti back to the forefront, also in terms of technical content. The tuning of the EB110 and the results obtained can be better understood through the words of Loris Bicocchi himself, according to whom the car never had unpredictable or difficult to manage reactions, even though it was only equipped with ABS. It had no sophisticated electronics to help the driver. The engine had remarkable elasticity and conveyed the sense of the man-machine relationship on the road. In other words, the EB110 gave the sensation of precision driving because of the absence of those software filters found in the ECUs of modern hypercars. Whether this car can deliver the emotions that only a high-performance car can, is eloquently answered by one of its many records: with Jean-Philippe Vittecoq at the wheel, the EB110 (in the SS, Super Sport version) set a time of 7.44 minutes on the Nürburgring’s big ring in 1993. Only the Pagani Zonda S managed to match it in 2002, 9 years later. The project also suffered its ups and downs in terms of the bodywork. Artioli asked Gandini to modify the car’s excessively square design. Artioli’s insistence on a bodywork with a distinct personality that could be associated with the Bugatti name and style, even if borrowed or, worse still, copied from the style of other automotive brands, led to a new head to head. The designer’s refusal to modify even the lines of the bodywork caused a lot of tension as the date of the car’s official presentation was scheduled shortly afterwards, 15 September 1991 in Paris. The situation was delicate and Artioli asked architect Giampaolo Benedini, who had already designed the Fabbrica Blu, Bugatti Automobili SpA’s futuristic production site in Campogalliano (Modena), to give the EB110 its definitive look. It can be said that the work was done in record time, as Benedini had about three months to complete the car’s aesthetic. Not an easy task under such conditions, and without having previously been involved stylistically on a car project. This was apparently a desperate choice on Artioli’s part. Here too, however, the words of the man himself provide the key to success: the contexts between buildings and cars are different, but the criteria for evaluating volumes and their relationships are identical (from La Manovella 09.09.2020).
Benedini limited himself to intervening where the forms were heavy, to soften them, especially at the front and rear. To create the reference to the Bugattis of the past, he was inspired by the Type 251, from which he drew above all the line of the front end with its horseshoe-shaped radiator, later reduced in size. In essence (from La Manovella 09.09.2020) (photo of the Type 251?), it was a combination of a great passion for the car and a refinement of a pre-existing stylistic structure. Nevertheless, with this revision of the shape, the car pleased Artioli, who could no longer afford further changes. In retrospect, it can be said that the forced and somewhat haphazard way in which the Bugatti EB110 design came to life is the reason why it is still relevant today. It was a design free from previous concepts and lines, detached from the fashions of the time. The sum total of the considerable difficulties encountered and the quarrelsome nature of some of those involved could have been sufficient on their own to bring such a futuristic project to a halt, but what is most surprising about the Bugatti EB110 story is not so much this, but rather how a company born from nothing managed to design and build a car so superior to any other of its era in little more than a year.