Bugatti today may be recognized for its hypercars, but it wasn’t long ago that the company was open to launching a high-end sedan in the same vein as the legendary Royale—a car that was stifled by the Great Depression, with just six examples built.
The last time Bugatti toyed with a sedan was in 2009 when it previewed a potential route with the 16C Galibier concept. The global financial crisis at the time ended up pouring cold water on that project, and a similar story occurred with Bugatti’s prior attempt to get a sedan on the market, the EB 112 concept of 1993.
Bugatti has revisited the Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed EB 112 to mark this year’s 30th anniversary of its reveal at the 1993 Geneva motor show. It was revealed when Bugatti was still run by Romano Artioli, and just three examples exist, including the original concept.
The EB 112 is powered by a 6.0-liter V-12 making 450 hp. That’s enough to push this luxury sedan from 0-62 mph in a claimed 4.3 seconds, and on to a top speed of 186 mph. The engine is mounted in a front mid-ship position and is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, with drive going to all four wheels.
When it was unveiled, it appeared Artioli’s revival of Bugatti would be successful. The EB 110 supercar was attracting lots of positive attention, and Bugatti was even providing design services to other companies, including Suzuki.
However, financial issues, including debts incurred by Artioli after an investment in Lotus, sent Bugatti into bankruptcy in 1995. Just 128 examples of the EB 110 supercar were built before the company went bankrupt, and the EB 112 never progressed beyond the concept and two further prototypes.
While the rights to the Bugatti name were purchased in 1998 by the Volkswagen Group, which staged a longer-lasting revival of the brand with the Veyron and current Chiron, many assets of the Artioli-run company were sold to Gildo Pallanca Pastor, including the three EB 112s. He eventually made all three examples roadworthy, with two examples, one black and the other gray, ending up in private hands. The original red concept returned to Italdesign, Giugiaro’s former design company, which today is owned by VW Group.
“The Bugatti EB 112 boasted a number of nostalgic styling features referencing the famous models of the legendary French brand from the late-’30s but presented in a car with innovative mechanicals,” Giugiaro said in a statement. “The EB 112 in many respects was a dream car and a forerunner to what we today know as high-performance fastback models.”
A look at the pictures does indeed show a fastback shape, but we’d say cars such as the Audi A7, Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, and Porsche Panamera have done that design theme better than the EB 112. Still, it’s an interesting part of automotive history that never made it to market.
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