I got the chance to meet the amazing one-off naked carbon Bugatti EB110SS
Bugatti was originally founded in Molsheim, Alsace in France 110 years ago and when it was sold to Hispano-Suiza in 1963 it was basically already DOA. In fact, the Swiss-Spanish (that's a weird combination) car manufacturer essentially bought it for parts. After a couple of failed revival attempts, the rights to the brand were acquired by Romano Artioli, the man who also created the Lotus Elise, in the late 1980s.
Artioli only managed to keep the company afloat for about eight years but, having hired Italian design legend Marcello Gandini and mechanical engineer Paolo Stanzani, he created what arguably became the most iconic Bugatti ever: the EB110.
In the mid 1990s, Bugatti went bankrupt again and a Germany company called Dauer Sportwagen purchased the license and all remaining parts including unfinished chassis for the EB110 and built five more. They decided to use carbon fiber instead of aluminum and this is the only EB110SS that hasn't been painted over. This is the only naked carbon fiber EB110SS in the world.
During the first hour of the very first day of the LA Auto Show I stumbled upon this amazing car in the South Hall at the Convention Center and was left speechless. In person, actually I mean in the metal, this car demands respect by oozing a certain halo which can't be explained.
It was built in 1994 and using carbon fiber had a triple effect. Firstly, it was kind of a big deal from a technical point of view because there were concerns regarding UV degradation of the material; secondly, it was also a breakthrough design because it hadn't been painted over and lastly, and this is the key point, using carbon fiber made the car 440 lbs lighter than the "normal" EB110SS. This car weighs well under 3000 lbs (< 1,400 kg).
Dauer also decided to give it some extra oomph with the addition of a Le Mans sport exhaust so the original 3.5 L quad-turbo V12 now makes over 700 hp and, precisely because the car is a lot lighter than its aluminum counterpart, it's now fitted with a 4WD system to make it more... manageable. When it was built, the top speed was over 230 mph and the 0-60 time was 3.3 seconds.
So many different features are going to sound alien in the modern world and that's why this car is such a valuable piece of automotive history. The ABS system, for example, can be deactivated with a fighter-jet style button on the ceiling, the wing is adjustable and the car also has two separate fuel tanks that aren't actually connected so they have to be filled separately.
The interior is a triumph of Tan leather and some elements like the center console and side sills are upholstered in quilted leather, as 90s as it gets. Other than that, there's air conditioning and that's about it. I mean the sound of the V12 on its own is probably the best infotainment system in the world.
I was lucky enough to have to chat with the owner for the (it is currently owned by AlphaLuxe, a media company based in California) who told me that it was recently showcased at the Quail, during the Monterey Car Week last Summer, and somebody even tried to buy it (I can't tell you how for how much, though) but the offer was declined.
I had never found myself speechless in front of a car before. And I'm not classic car enthusiast or anything like that. I mean obviously I like classics like most car people do but this is on a different level. Seeing this Bugatti EB110SS at the modern car show is a bit like being at a party in Hollywood surrounded by IT girls, but then Scarlett Johansson walks in the room. The temperature drops a degree and everyone around you stops doing what they were doing to look at her. That's what happened with this EB110SS.
On a scale of 1 to 10. This Bugatti is 110.