Tag Archives: Bugatti EB110

Freccia Rossa

The influence of Italy on the automobile has been immense, particularly in the performance and style areas. So, when considering the the rich tapestry of cars on display at an event like the Concours of Elegance, it pays dividends to seek out the Italian element and give it the due attention it deserves.

Within minutes of entering the Great Fountain Garden I stumbled across two Italian classics, this Lamborghini Diablo, the answer from Sant’Agata Bolognese to the Ferrari F40. At this point in time Lamborghini had just been acquired by Chrysler, the deal was done the day after the first Diablo prototype ran. Thirty years on and the Diablo still creates an impact when encountered.

The same can be said of the Pagani Zonda, perhaps even more so, given the rarity of the beast. Just around 150 examples are thought to have emerged from the factory at San Cesario sul Panaro. This is located in the mechanically fertile territory between Modena and Bologna, not far from Lamborghini’s factory.

A complete contrast is the 1907 Diatto A Clément, it being the only known survivor of this model. It was the result of a partnership between the Turin coachbulider, Diatto, and French entrepreneur, Adolphe Clément-Bayard who was involved in the design of bicycles, tyres, aeroplanes as well as cars. He was a pioneer in motor sport entering three cars in the 1906 French Grand Prix, held near Le Mans, generally agreed to be the first Grand Prix. His son, Albert, finished third in the race but was killed in a crash during practice for the same event in 1907.

Bang up to date is this salute to the past. In 1959 the Shah of Persia ordered a very special Maserati, a development of the 3500 GT, with a larger V8-engine to power it and various bespoke features to distinguish it from lesser mortals’ cars ; it was the quickest GT of the time. Fast forward seventy years and Touring was modifying a Maserati once more. The Touring Superleggera Sciàdipersia (Shah of Persia) Cabriolet was the result. Based on a current Maserati GranCabrio, the Sciàdipersia is a throwback to the days when a manufacturer would supply a chassis and powertrain, then a coachbuilder would style and fit out the car to the customer’s individual specification.

This Ferrari 500 Mondial is a Series I car that was bodied by Scaglietti on drawings made by Dino Ferrari, one of five such examples. It was purchased from the factory by Guido Petracchi who entered it in the 1955 Ethiopian Grand Prix which he won. It was later displayed in the Italian pavilion at the Silver Jubilee Fair of Addis Ababa. It had another outing at the Cote de Asmara race in 1956, where it took overall victory with Gaetano Barone behind the wheel. Two further victories came shortly after, but then the car was put into long-term storage in Ethiopia. In 1970, car collector and dealer Colin Crabbe was on vacation in Asmara, Ethiopia, when a local led him to a small lock-up containing the totally original 500 Mondial – Crabbe bought it on the spot. 

Another striking Italian is this Bugatti EB110…………..I looked at this episode in Bugatti history a while back HERE

This elegant 1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 C SS Zagato has a proper race pedigree, being owned from new by Jo Bonnier, who would go on to have a successful career in F1 and endurance racing. In the three races that he started with the Alfa he would take class honours each time, winning the 1955 Swedish Grand Prix outright.

1949 was a most significant year for Ferrari. Victories in the Mille Miglia and both the 24-hours of Le Mans and Spa established Ferrari at the very summit of endurance competition. Amazingly these two 166 MM Barchettas achieved the three triumphs and both were at Hampton Court for our appreciation.

Chassis #0010M was entered in the 1949 Mille Miglia but there is some dispute as to whether it was the Felice Bonetto and Carpani car that finished second overall after leading to Rome. Some sources declare it was the Piero Taruffi and Sergio Nicolini car that retired with a broken transmission at Ravenna. It was then sold to Luigi Chinetti who entered it at Le Mans for Jean Lucas and ‘Ferret’ (Pierre Dreyfus). All went well for the pair till it got dark on the Saturday evening. Dreyfus overturned 166 MM, without injury, at White House Corner, their race was over.

A few weeks later the Ferrari was entered in the Spa 24 Hours with Chinetti and Lucas on driving duties. At the halfway point they assumed the lead and were cruising towards an easy victory till drama hit in the very final stages of the race. Motor Sport described the scene. “Louveau’s Delage had motored faultlessly, so that it really looked as if the Le Mans maladies had been cured. Then, after some 23 1/2 hours, oil began to stream from the engine. Louveau went on gingerly to his pit, intending to wait and coast over the line after Chinetti had been flagged the winner. Reminded that this would disqualify him, he set off, almost at a walking pace, to complete his last lap in the stricken Delage. Meanwhile, Chinetti, doubtless a trifle weary, came on to the oil patch flung by Louveau’s sick car at Hallowell Corner. The Ferrari slid out of control, knocked down a woman spectator and hit a house. Shaken but still irrepressible, Chinetti leapt out, rendered the unfortunate woman first-aid, got in again and drove slowly to his pit. There the leading Ferrari was hastily examined and then sent out to limp round for the two more laps necessary to win the race.

Only one car has won both the Mille Miglia and the Le Mans 24 Hours, a feat that can never be equalled. This Ferrari 166 MM is that car, chassis 0008M, and it was also at the Concours of Elegance. In April 1949 Clemente Biondetti and Ettore Salani gave Ferrari its second win on the Italian road racing classic, after Biondetti had won the previous year.

Lord Selsdon purchased the car and invited Luigi Chinetti, already a two-time winner, to drive with him the 1949 Le Mans 24 hours, the first post-war running of the event. Chinetti kept in touch with the faster Delahayes for the first quarter of the race. Then the Ferrari was delayed allowing the other 166 MM, featured above, to grab the lead. That car had an accident and one of the Delahayes struck problems, allowing the Ferrari to build a lead during the brief hours of darkness at La Sarthe.

Motor Sport’s correspondent followed the race closely. “The crowd on the balcony clapped — at 4.26 a.m., mark you! — as Selsdon took over the leading Ferrari from Chinetti, who had driven the car continuously up , to this point.

The Ferrari kept its lead over the faster Delahaye as it encountered fewer problems and spent less time in the pits. Then Delahaye retired and the Ferrari came under pressure from Louveau’s Delage. Then came the next twist in the race. “Came drama! Louveau brought the Delage in in dire trouble, but went on. Shortly afterwards Chinetti was stationary at his pit, with Louveau in again. On his first stop the plugs had been replaced, water added, and the rear wheels changed, so we knew, now, that something more serious was amiss. The work was good, calm, but half-an-hour was lost while extensive work was done on the engine, concluding with more new plugs — as with Gérard’s Delage, too much oil seemed to be getting “upstairs.” The Ferrari left first, but it, too, lost much time, work apparently being done on the front of the chassis, necessitating attempted removal of a headlamp.

The race ground on to the finish as it usually does at Le Mans. Chinetti had to be helped from the Ferrari after spending more than 22 hours behind the wheel, a truly heroic performance. The Italian, who now lived in the United States, had scored his third victory in the great race. Selsdon and Chinetti received their trophies from Vincent Auriol, sixteenth President of the French Republic, the first time that the head of state had attended the race; it would be twenty-three years before a French President returned.

The Italians at the Concours of Elegance provided a rich and sumptuous confection for those lucky enough to attend, roll on 2020!

John Brooks, July 2020

The Italian Job

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Name the odd one out – Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani, Bugatti, Lancia, Alfa Romeo. Easy I hear you cry, Bugatti! – Though Ettore Bugatti was born in Milan almost all of the cars that bore his name were built at Molsheim in the French province of Alsace. Since the acquisition of the marque by the Volkswagen Group production has returned to Molsheim. The rest are all Italian car companies so that is that.

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However, there was, some 30 years ago, an attempt to revive Bugatti and locate it in the shadow of Modena (where else in Italy?) at a purpose built factory in Campogalliano. The author of this plan was Italian automotive entrepreneur Romano Artioli who somehow persuaded the French state-owned industrial conglomerate, Snecma, to sell him the rights to the brand of Bugatti, succeeding where so many others before him had failed. Perhaps he made them an offer they could not refuse.

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Artioli had a vision of the car he wanted to create, this had been hatched over several years with an old friend, Ferruccio Lamborghini, yes that Lamborghini. This was going to be the fastest, greatest car in the world and to achieve this aim Artioli recruited some of the stars of the local auto industry. Designer Marcello Gandini was a logical choice given his record with such supercars as the Alfa Romeo Montreal, De Thomaso Pantera, Ferrari Dino 308GT4, Iso Grifo, Lamborghini Miura, Lamborghini Countach, Lancia Stratos and Maserati Khamsin plus many others. The technical side was handled by Paolo Stanzani who drew up the initial concept of a two seater mid-engined sportscar with four-wheel drive, powered by a 3.5 litre V12 with four turbochargers giving over 600bhp in extreme form. Chassis were initially planned to be aluminium but this lacked the necessary rigidity so French aeronautics experts, Aérospatiale were called upon to develop and build a carbon fibre unit.

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Artioli managed to fall out with both of his project leaders prior to launch but the EB110GT continued its development and during this period recorded a record speed of 212.5mph, making it the fastest production car on the planet. The EB110GT was launched in 14th September 1991 at La Grande Arche de la Défense to the west of Paris to a crowd of 5,000 media and guests. The date was the 110th anniversary of Ettore Bugatti’s birth and 1,800 VIPs celebrated into the night at a sumptuous reception and dinner at the Palace of Versailles.

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Such extravagance set the tone and were to have consequences particularly as there were cost overruns at Bugatti and, to compound matters, Artioli acquired Lotus Cars from General Motors. He also launched the Ettore Bugatti fashion brand, all of this funded by a combination of personal wealth and borrowings. Artioli’s luck deserted him, his principal income streams, a large Ferrari dealership and being Suzuki’s agent in Italy, were experiencing difficulties with the general economic situation and the financial crisis that hit Japan at that time. Two other factors worked against the EB110GT, failure to get a foothold in the vital North American market and the arrival on the scene of the McLaren F1 which took SuperCar performance levels to a new dimension.

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In an attempt to drum up business in the face of the new arrival from Woking an even more extreme version of the EB110 was launched, the Supersport, but it was too little too late. The planned output of 300 units per annum was never achieved and in the end only 140 cars were built, including 38 Supersports.

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The end for Artioli’s Bugatti dream came in September 1995 when the corporation was declared insolvent with debts of $125 million, eventually after a couple of years of financial and legal wrangling the Volkswagen Group acquired the Bugatti brand. The Veyron was the next exotic chapter in the story of Bugatti and the recent launch of the Chiron at the Geneva Salon points to the future.

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So the EB110 is a rare beast, so to encounter two of the Supersports sharing the same stage is highly unlikely scenario, that they were in the company of a prototype EB112 saloon is even more so, this is hen’s teeth territory.

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The trio had been owned by Monegasque businessman, Gildo Pallanca Pastor, and closer inspection showed the cars to be even more important that I had first believed. The two Supersports appeared to have competition history, that much I figured from the sponsors’ logos, one turned out to be a world record holder. On 2nd March 1995 Pastor set a new record for a car on ice of 296.34 km/h (184 mph) at Oulu Finland, the record being set on winter tyres without spikes.

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Pastor was not finished with returning Bugatti back to the race-tracks, following the lead of Michel Hommel who entered an EB110SS in the 1994 Le Mans 24 Hours. The car ran competitively till an accident near the end of the race forced it into retirement. Pastor took his other SS to the USA and ran in two races with two finishes in 1995 before heading to Japan for the Suzuka 1000kms, a round of the BPR Global Endurance Series. He was partnered with 1993-Le Mans winner Eric Hélary but transmission problems caused the Bugatti to retire. Pastor entered the 1996 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. Joining him at the wheel was Derek Hill, son of 1961 F1 World Champion Phil Hill, and Olivier Grouillard but they went out after 154 laps with gearbox failure.

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This inspired Pastor to enter Le Mans but that initiative sank almost at the start of Pre-Qualifying when ex-Ferrari F1 star, Patrick Tambay, crashed the Bugatti beyond immediate repair and, aside from a club race at Dijon a few months later, that was the end of the competitions career of Bugatti, which is unlikely to be revived under the current ownership.

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The EB112 also warrants more attention, something it attracted in spades at the 1993 Geneva Salon when it was shown to the world for the first time. Powered by a 6 litre V12, the elegant saloon design was the work Giorgetto Giugiaro at ItalDesign. The engineering team was under the guidance of the great Mauro Forghieri, whose work for Ferrari in the ‘60s and ’70s is legendary, producing four drivers World Championships and eight Constructors titles. Two EB112 prototypes were built and the project was set to go into production in 1996 but the financial disaster that engulfed Bugatti ended that dream.

Under the new owners Bugatti returned to its spiritual home in Molsheim, the automotive Risorgimento was done.

John Brooks, April 2016

Upstairs, Downstairs

The 2016 Rétromobile expanded to an additional upstairs hall, mainly occupied by the Artcurial Auction lots. The quality was outstanding, like a museum display and The Special Correspondent had a field day.

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The Graham brothers built up their business by producing large numbers of trucks using Dodge mechanicals and then bought the Paige-Detroit Motor Company. In January 1928 the Graham-Paige range of cars was announced.
It was ambitious and in 1929 the firm made 77,000 cars – they even won the Monte Carlo Rally that year! The Paige name was dropped in the early Thirties and the company attracted plenty of customers with its new ”Blue Streak” styling in 1932, the cars having sloping grilles. In 1934 Graham offered a supercharger on the Custom Eight and, apart from the Auburn 851 Speedster, it was the only American company to feature a supercharger (until 1939). For 1938 a new styling innovation was introduced with sloping-back grille, square headlamps set in the front wings and spats on the rear wheels, this aggressive design earning the nickname “shark nose”. The public did not take to it and only 8,800 were made up to 1940.
The above car is a 1939 Type 97 supercharged cabriolet, a rare example having bodywork by the French coachbuilder Pourtout. It has a straight six 3.5-litre engine developing 115 b.h.p. and a 3-speed gearbox with overdrive.
A final thought: a Graham-Paige of uncertain vintage was bought in 1935 by a Mr Baker for less than £50 and ,with the 8-cylinder engine rebuilt and a two-seater long-tailed body made specially by Harrington of Hove, it went on to win in August 1939 the last ever race at Brooklands!
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1922 was the year that Georges Irat was making at Chatou an excellent 2-litre sports tourer with a 4-cylinder o.h.v.engine, the work of the former Delage engineer Maurice Gaultier. These cars performed well in the long-distance races of the era. In 1935 the company switched to making attractive 2-seater sports cars, first with Ruby engines and then with Citroën units.

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After the war a completely new prototype was shown at the 1946 Paris Salon with a lightweight magnesium alloy frame, a flat-four engine and all-enveloping bodywork. There was no positive response to this and a second attempt was made for the 1949 Paris Salon. This is the car shown here with its Lambourdette body found in the factory at Bègles (near Bordeaux) but it has since been underpinned with a Simca Huit chassis. Again it aroused no commercial interest and thus sadly represents the end of Georges Irat motor cars.
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Designed by Marcello Gandini, the Bugatti EB110 had a mid-mounted 3.5-litre V12 60 valve 4 turbo engine driving through all four wheels and a carbon fibre chassis made by Aérospatiale. It came about when Romano Artioli, a big Ferrari dealer in German-speaking northern Italy and the first to import Suzuki cars into the region, set up Bugatti Automobili S.p.A. in a brand new factory at Campogalliano near Modena.. The cars were produced between 1991 and 1995 after which the firm went bankrupt.
The appearance of the EB110S at Le Mans in 1994 has been well documented but less well-known is the racing history of this EB110SS of Gildo Pallanca-Pastor, a Monégasque entrepreneur who entered the car during 1995 and 1996 under the banner of his Monaco Racing Team.
The car’s first race was at the Watkins Glen 3 Hours in June 1995 where Patrick Tambay co-drove it into 19th place. Three weeks later Pallanca-Pastor came 16th on his own at Sears Point. A switch to the BPR Championship race at Suzuka in August brought retirement when a broken front drive-shaft sent Eric Hélary into the sand. The 1996 Daytona 24 Hours saw the car running in the GTS-1 class but there was no luck for Derek Hill (son of World Champion Phil Hill), Olivier Grouillard and Pallanca-Pastor, the gearbox failing after 154 laps. Even more disastrous was Tambay’s accident at the start of the Le Mans Test Day, effectively ending Pallanca’s hopes of running in the 24 Hour race.
The car’s last race came at the non-championship GT event at Dijon in June. Pallanca-Pastor finished 3rd in Heat 1 but Bertrand Balas, having initially led in Heat 2, was cruelly pushed off by Wolfgang Kaufmann’s bi-turbo Porsche 911.
To date this was the last racing appearance of a Bugatti in period.
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This is the Citroën 15-Six H (Hydropneumatique), a limited series available to selected clients only in 1954, which had the hydropneumatic rear suspension destined for the forthcoming DS19 which appeared at the 1955 Paris Salon. It served as something of a test-bed for the complicated new system and trials revealed that the front suspension needed adjustment to compensate – hence the front torsion bars were lengthened, being extended out at the front.
All this rather mirrors what Citroën did in 1934. Having launched a completely new range of 8, 10 and 15CV at the 1932 Paris Salon, they became known as the Rosalie series after Citroën had gone record-breaking at Montlhéry with Yacco-sponsored special versions, labelled “Rosalies”. In 1933 an 8CV collected many long-distance records, this car known as the “Petite Rosalie”. In May 1934 Citroën equipped the Rosalie cars with the independent torsion bar front suspension that was just appearing on the recently unveiled Traction Avant, Citroën feeling that it was wise to continue offering the Rosalie range while the completely new car was getting established.
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The Simca 8 Sport started life as an elegant cabriolet prototype with a Pinin Farina body at the 1948 Paris Salon in the Grand-Palais. The Head of Simca, Henri-Théodore Pigozzi, liked it so much that he decided to market it and production was entrusted to Facel-Métallon; the process was unusually complicated with the pressings made at Amboise, the assembly at Colombes and the final touches put on at Dreux! A fixed–head coupé accompanied the open version and the car was given an upgraded 1200 c.c. engine.
The coupé gained glory in the 1950 Monte Carlo Rally where the cars finished 4th and 5th overall, Scaron/Pascal winning the 1.5-litre class. A year later the cars were outclassed by the Jowett Jupiters, the Scaron/Pascal Simca Sport finishing 16th and even Trintignant managing only 48th.
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One of nine Frazer-Nash Le Mans Fixed-Head Coupés. It has the usual adjustable slats in front of the radiator, centre-lock wire wheels, an Austin rear axle, iron brake drums and adjustable torsion bars. It was ordered by Mrs Kitty Maurice of Castle Combe and completed in April 1955. It travelled to Le Mans in June 1955 as a support vehicle for AFN’s entries. Mrs Maurice did not keep it for long and AFN eventually bought it back in November 1957.
XMC 1 was sold to John Dashwood in March 1959 and he had AFN prepare the car for that year’s Le Mans race . The rear axle location was modified with a Panhard rod and rose joints in place of the original A-bracket. Driven by Dashwood and Bill Wilks, this was the last Frazer-Nash to race at Le Mans. After three hours Dashwood slid into the sandbank at Arnage when the brakes faded. The gearbox split as he tried to slow down and the steering was damaged.
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When launched at the 1934 Paris Salon the Renault Vivastella Grand Sport had a 3.6-litre 6-cylinder engine. But shortly after the Show the Vivastella Grand Sport became the Viva Grand Sport (Type ACX 1) and this had a 4.1-litre motor and more aerodynamic lines inspired by the famous Caudron-Renault Rafale aircraft, holder of the World Hour Record. The first Viva Grand Sport for 1936 (Type ACX 2) appeared in the summer of 1935 at the Concours d’Elégance du Bois de Boulogne. Refinements included a single-piece windscreen and a re-designed rear profile.

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This 1936 example is one of only three drivable surviving cabriolets. Notice how the gear lever, although operating a central change, is deployed through the dashboard! I note that the prominent French racing driver of the Thirties, René Le Bègue (winner of the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally and the 1939 Comminges Grand Prix) began his career using a Renault Viva Grand Sport.
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This is a Bugatti Type 40. Jean Bugatti took it off the production line in 1928 and designed a “fiacre” type body for it especially for his younger sister Lydia. The car was often “borrowed” by Bugatti racing drivers!
Bugatti launched the 4-cylinder racing Type 37 at the end of 1925. In mid-1926 he introduced the Type 40 to replace the Brescia as the 1.5-litre touring car. He took the engine of the Type 37 and fitted it to a new touring frame, stronger than that in the Brescia. He gave the car a narrower track and a new radiator.
Two French ladies, Marguerite Mareuse and Odette Siko, drove a Type 40 in the 1930 Le Mans race, finishing in 7th place.
Approximately 830 of the Type 40 and 40A were made.
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Back in 1908 you could buy a Detroit Electric car which would do 45 m.p.h. and have a range of 70—80 miles; not much progress since then evidently! There is currently a new vogue for electric cars in the name of zero emissions but, the moment the car is plugged in to recharge its batteries, the pollution is, of course, merely transferred to the power stations!
Under German Occupation during the Second World War, the French had little alternative to resorting to electrical power with a serious shortage of petrol and raw materials. All sorts of crude cars came on the market, this 4-wheeled Pierre Faure being one of the better ones. Constructed from October 1940 onwards at Vitry-sur-Seine, this 2-seater had a backbone chassis with a narrow track at the rear to avoid the use of a differential and front suspension by a transverse leaf spring. Six batteries were located in the nose and these gave a speed of approximately 25 m.p.h. with a range of some 50 miles.
The car was shown at the 1946 Paris Salon but could not compete with the new petrol cars and production ceased in 1947. It is thought that about 20 were made.

David Blumlein March 2016