The story of the Bugatti EB110 is quite an interesting one. After Ettore Bugatti, the founder of the company, died in 1947, the company essentially folded up soon after, with brief attempts at revivals here and there. The rights to the company were purchased in the 1980s by an Italian entrepreneur named Roman Artioli, and he developed an entirely new Bugatti company, with a new factory in Italy. The company’s first car (and only production car) was the EB110.
The EB110 was a crazy, ultra-high-performance supercar that was intended to rival other similar cars at the time, like the Ferrari F40 and F50, the McLaren F1, the Porsche 959, and the Lamborghini Diablo. It wasn’t anything like Bugatti models had been 40 years earlier, as the brand had previously concentrated almost exclusively on racing — and now, the EB110’s primary function would be as a really, really fast road car.
But even though Artioli moved the Bugatti factory to Italy and had limited plans for racing, he still kept some Bugatti trademarks — like, specifically, the famed Bugatti logo, and, surprisingly, the Bugatti grille.
You see, back in the 1940s, all Bugatti models had a very distinctive grille design, which was squared on the bottom and circular on top — and this design was used in all of the brand’s racing vehicles. Now, when the EB110 was being developed in the 1980s, it was very clear this grille design simply wouldn’t fit on the car, as it was a typical low-slung 1980s sports car, with an angular design and a wedge-shaped front end. But the re-imagined Italian Bugatti firm decided to do something interesting: they made it fit.
And so, as you can see in the photo above of me and Tyler Hoover, the Bugatti EB110 touts a typical 1990s supercar look, with a low, flat shape, along with a wedge-shaped front end … and there, in the front, hilariously small in size, you have the old-school Bugatti grille. Indeed, it doesn’t make sense with this car, it doesn’t fit with the design, and it certainly doesn’t work with the lines, but it’s there for heritage: the Bugatti grille reimagined in the 1990s, except now roughly the same size as a drinking glass.
Unfortunately, the heritage grille didn’t save the brand, and Italian Bugatti folded after a few years producing the EB110 — at which point Volkswagen bought the rights and gave us the Bugatti models we know today. Complete with, yes, the traditional Bugatti grille.
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