Few contemporary cars will earn a place of honour in history. This is not a matter of insolence or snobbery for a specific era or brand. The benchmarks, standards or blue chips of vintage collecting are still the preserve of cars from selected eras, the 50s, 60s, 70s and even pre-war, and of these, only a few occupy the top positions, both because of their rich history and because the brands to which they belong have a tradition of being major players and will continue to be influential in the future. These include Ferrari first and foremost, but obviously not all Ferraris. These are followed by Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Lamborghini, Mercedes, Bugatti, Jaguar and Aston Martin. These are all brands that have distinguished themselves in specific eras, or that have had more continuity in their results, often winning the laurels of victory in both racing, style, and in defining and influencing lifestyles. Jaguar and Aston Martin, for example, are focusing on new car ranges that are increasingly modern, but they are combining this with a strategy aimed at making customers feel the thrill of driving legendary cars that have written important pages in motorsport history. Giving continuity to their history, in particular to the younger generations, reviving the memory of the heroic days of racing and at the same time looking to the future. This is the so-called ‘Continuation‘ programme whereby, for example, Jaguar has reproduced the historic C-type and D-type cars in a small number of units (approx. 25 units) with a modern twist. Aston Martin is pursuing a similar strategy, making it possible to replace the original petrol engines (which are increasingly valuable) of its vintage models with electric motors without having to make drastic changes to the chassis and mechanics, and enabling it to have a completely reversible powertrain solution. This would make it possible to use classic cars even in an urban environment where there are driving restrictions for cars with internal combustion engines. An eye on the past with an eye to the future. And Bugatti? Unlike Ferrari, it has not shared the same fate and its existence has been inextricably linked to the fortunes of Ettore Bugatti and his family. Having stopped producing road cars back in 1953, in 1987 entrepreneur Romano Artioli acquired the brand from the French State and Bugatti returned to car production after just under 40 years. The 1990s were relatively scarce in novelties when compared to other, more creative decades. And yet, even in this period there were stars. In particular, one remained in the shadows for a long time, despite its many futuristic features. The Bugatti EB110. The car was named after the initials of its founder Ettore Bugatti and the 110th anniversary of his birth. A long-forgotten car, mainly due to the bankruptcy of Bugatti Automobili SpA in 1995. We will not dwell here on the events that led to this ending (which would not, however, lead to a new end for Bugatti), but certainly the power of the media had a decisive influence in directing the destiny of a more than valid car to the humiliation of oblivion, from which it seemed it would never be freed. Bugatti itself, today’s Bugatti Automobiles SAS, came to its aid. On the occasion of the one hundred and tenth anniversary of its foundation, La Marque recognised Bugatti Automobili SpA as an integral part of its cultural and productive heritage, and acknowledged the essential role played by the entrepreneur Romano Artioli in the rebirth of a marque that had not existed as an automotive brand for several decades.
In other words, without Artioli and Bugatti Automobili SpA, there wouldn’t be a revived Bugatti today. There is no doubt as to the revolutionary value of the Bugatti EB110’s contribution in terms of engine, chassis and general technology. Subjective opinions can be expressed on its styling, but it cannot be said that its sinuous, rounded forms, even if markedly sporty, do not belong to the stylistic elements of La Marque, with that small horseshoe-shaped grille testifying to its blue blood, to its belonging to the aristocracy of motor sport. Like all history-making Bugattis, it was innovative to the point that it implicitly set the design standard for road-going hypercars for years to come. Thirty years after its launch, the BMW i8, a plug-in hybrid with a carbon-fibre shell chassis, and Maserati’s most recent creation, the MC20, with a monocoque carbon-fibre chassis designed by Dallara are clear examples of this. The distortion of content in news items that weren’t always accurate or exhaustive, focusing too much on the hot contemporary issues rather than on the product itself, have in fact led to the EB110 being remembered as “The Forgotten Supercar“. A certainly bitter fate. It has taken almost 25 years since 1995, the year Bugatti Automobili SpA went bankrupt, for this error to be rectified and for the historical truth to be understood and spread that the Bugatti EB110 was in fact the initiator of a new way of conceiving the high-performance road car, the progenitor of an innovative new breed of hypercar. It can reasonably be considered fortunate that this was the case. In fact, despite the considerable amount of time that has passed, things may never have changed. Bugatti’s one hundred and tenth anniversary was simultaneously a celebration of its historical continuity and the EB110’s return to its rightful place in the automotive industry. Amongst all the EB110s, the story of a 1994 “Factory car” stands out, an SS (Sport Stradale), i.e. an improved, lightened and upgraded version. More agile and faster than the previous generation, the GT. The chassis number ended with 39025. It was a very special car, because it was one of the very few prototypes completed for the American market, assembled in accordance with the strict American regulations, so much so, for example, that the chassis number or VIN appeared on the windscreen in the lower corner, driver’s side, in compliance with the American federal laws on car homologation.