Vienna Calling: On the road in the Bugatti EB110 S

The dark season is upon us - and with it long nights and sometimes a lot of rain. Perfect conditions for an evening drive. At least if you're on the road with one (or two) Bugatti EB110 S. And the destination is not only Vienna, but also a classical "Throwback Thursday".
  • Text
    Alex Easthope
  • Photos
    Remi Dargegen

The Vienna State Opera was the first major building erected on the Ringstrasse. Mozart’s Don Giovanni was performed at the opening premiere on 25 May 1869 with Emperor Franz Josef in attendance. Today it is considered one of the leading opera houses in the world. Tonight, however, the neo-renaissance structure is reverberating to the gruff idle of two Bugatti EB 110 Ss, the illustrious French marque’s final factory-built racing cars.

The world-famous opera house, which is commonly considered the spiritual center of the City of Music, is the traditional starting point for the 24 Minutes of Vienna. The secretive race was born in the 1920s by aristocratic playboys who’d tear around the affluent Ringstrasse with their Bugatti Type 35s under the cover of darkness, before joining revelers of Vienna’s famous all-night balls at Café Schwarzenberg for early-morning goulash and beer.

Ever since then, Bugatti evangelists have descended on the historic five-kilometer “Lord of the Ring Roads” every few years to romanticize about the past and follow in the tire tracks of those early disciples of the marque – usually to the dismay of the Austrian authorities and parliament, the latter of which happens to be prominently located on the Ringstrasse.

Said parliament also happens to have been recently rocked by the “Ibiza-gate” scandal (if you’re not familiar, it’s definitely worth googling) and in its current state of disarray ahead of a snap election in September, it hopefully has greater priorities than worrying about an under-the-radar motor race on its doorstep. The stage is thus set for another 24 Minutes of Vienna.

Unless you’ve been living in hiding, you’ll know that Bugatti is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year. And if the widespread rumors are to be believed, the marque will reveal a modern-day homage to the EB 110 Supersport at Pebble Beach in August. It therefore seemed entirely appropriate to bring arguably the two most significant examples of Romano Artioli’s 1990s supercar built, the 1994 Bugatti EB 110 S Le Mans (LM) and 1995 Bugatti EB 110 S Sport Competizione (SC), to Vienna.

Before we wave the figurative checkered flag and unleash some 1,300 horses loose on the Champs-Élysées of Vienna, it’s time for a short history lesson over traditional wiener schnitzel – and yes, that is an EB 110’s turbocharger, BBS rim and fuse box cover masquerading as centerpieces.

As if Bugatti’s Italian chapter could have gotten any more audacious back in the 1990s, the decision was made to take the EB 110 endurance racing. Bugatti was a company built on motorsport success, after all, and Artioli believed that in addition to validating “his” Bugatti, the experience would result in enhanced brand image and further technological innovation.

The trouble was that, like the McLaren F1, the EB 110 was designed from scratch as a refined supercar for the road and therefore fundamentally flawed as a racing car. But that certainly wasn’t going to stop Bugatti’s determined and insatiably enthusiastic engineers in Campogalliano from giving the transformation a go.

Funds and expertise were sought from key partners, the most prominent of which was the Synergie racing team in France, and in a scarcely believable three months, the blue EB 110 S LM was born in Bugatti’s Reparto Esperienze skunkworks, ready to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1994. In the most traditional sense, the car was driven to Le Mans on the public roads accompanied by the EB 110 GT factory demonstrator and a police escort.

Artioli never did anything by halves.

At the race Ettore Bugatti won outright exactly fifty-five years before and forged such a reputation among the fiercely patriotic French public, the EB 110 S LM – which retained the core DNA of the road-going Supersport, albeit in a much more technologically advanced package – in the hands of Alain Cudini, Eric Helary and Jean Christophe Boullion held strong and firm, despite a number of turbocharger-related technical gripes. That was until the 23rd hour, however, when an accident on the Mulsanne Straight forced a desperately late retirement.

The result mattered little. For the guys in Campogalliano, the car’s encouraging performance was a victory in itself and led to the creation of a second, more hardcore and further developed racer, the SC, for use in the popular IMSA series across the pond. And again, the car showed promising performance.

Alas, Bugatti Automobili folded amid a global recession and, as Artioli claims, industrial sabotage, and the motorsport world was left to wonder what might have been from these turbocharged titans.

Back to Vienna. The very first major building erected on the Ringstrasse following the road’s construction in the 19th century, the Vienna State Opera feels like the perfect starting point for an altogether more fitting reason.

Alas, Bugatti Automobili folded amid a global recession and, as Artioli claims, industrial sabotage.

When Volkswagen’s Ferdinand Piëch superseded Romano Artioli as the third patriarch of Bugatti in 1998, his brief for what would become the Veyron was clear: it was to be extremely fast, extremely powerful and elegant and refined enough so as not to embarrass him and his wife as they arrived at the opera. Now that Volkswagen’s Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. has officially recognized Artioli’s Bugatti Automobili S.p.A., it feels quite cheeky seeing these hilariously impractical Campogalliano-built racers – warts, warpaint and all – parked outside Piëch’s local opera house. Why else do you think our drivers donned their tuxedos?

With midnight long passed and an abrupt downpour having cleared the Ringstrasse of the young revelers enjoying their end-of-term celebrations at the myriad outdoor bars, it’s time to go. It takes something very special to divert your attention away from Vienna’s spectacular architecture, a curious mix of the gothic, renaissance, baroque and classical styles. But the sight and sound of two braying EB 110 S racers weaving through traffic and spurting flames on the Opera Straight, past the Volksgarten or into the Drahdiwaberl curve manage it with ease.

It’s at this point that, rather regrettably, we must inform you that the so-called 24 Minutes of Vienna is actually the work of fiction – a fun idea we concocted to romanticize what was a truly unforgettable evening with these fabulous Bugatti racers. But in a world where fake news is rife it felt just right.

It also felt right to shed further light on the EB 110, a car which has been undeservedly forgotten for far too long, but whose future looks bold and bright thanks to Bugatti’s long-overdue recognition of Artioli and his daring dream. These factory-built racers, in particular, represent the Campogalliano era best – they’re true technological tours de force that honor Ettore’s legacy and epitomize the “what could have been” mystique and romance of Bugatti Automobili. Something tells us you’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the very near future. Thank you, Vienna!

ramp #47 Drive Free

ramp #47 Drive Free

Unsere Welt wird immer komplexer, die der Mobilität sowieso. Diese überrascht ihre Lenker dann auch in letzter Zeit ebenso gerne wie immer öfter mit plötzlich auftretenden Hindernissen. Der Weg in die Zukunft wird zum spannenden Elchtest.

Similar articles

Our Bestsellers

  • ramp #64 How About That!
    ramp #64 How About That!
    20,00 EUR
    Surprises open our eyes to new things, which now isn't really a big surprise. The unexpected simply stays in memory longer, sparks curiosity – and prompts action. Essential for adapting to a changing world. The future might just be warming up for progress. It's meant to move forward effectively.
  • rampstyle #31 Isn't That Something?
    rampstyle #31 Isn't That Something?
    20,00 EUR
    Focusing on the essentials, blocking out everything else... If you’re focused, you’ve already mastered one important key skill. In our multimodal world, focus is, unfortunately, a rather limited resource. In particularly focused moments, we forget all about time. But do we run the risk of developing tunnel vision? Does focus lose its power over time? Do we become habituated? Far from it. Unexpected surprises? Bring ‘em on!
  • ramp #63 Happy on the Road
    ramp #63 Happy on the Road
    20,00 EUR
    Happy on the road? You bet. For any respectable car culture magazine, after all, being happy on the road is a mandatory prerequisite. Over time, and with a little bit of luck (which is, after all, a close relative of happiness), these feelings cheerfully blossom into an emotional foundation that ...
  • rampstyle #30 Blue Skies
    rampstyle #30 Blue Skies
    20,00 EUR
    After “All Summer Long” here’s our follow-up issue with the title “Blue Skies”. Of course. Because readers who know a little something about the English singer and songwriter Chris Rea will have already noticed how we’ve come full circle here. The blue sky as a symbol of hopeful optimism about what’s to come.
  • ramp #62 Wild Things
    ramp #62 Wild Things
    20,00 EUR
    Just heading along, the journey itself a wonderfully blank page that presents itself to us with a cheerful unpredictability, as an inspired playing field for trial and error, for curiosity and spontaneity, unexpected surprises and flights of fancy. Wild and untamed. Just like life itself.
  • Director’s Cut: Luxury
    Director’s Cut: Luxury
    125,00 EUR
    Luxury is enticing and exciting, polarizing and provocative, not to mention that it is good for the economy. But the essence of luxury goes far beyond the material. Luxury appeals to our senses, our dreams and our desires. It immediately evokes images that are as precise as they are diverse. Luxury also triggers some pretty clear opinions – both favorable and unfavorable.
  • rampstyle #29 All Summer Long
    rampstyle #29 All Summer Long
    20,00 EUR
    Barcelona in summer. With Alvaro Soler - and a Porsche 911 SC. An approach to the phenomenon and the person Yves Saint Laurent. We spoke with Udo Kier in Palm Springs, and Luc Donckerwolke in his garage. And then there's the cover - and the associated story of House of Spoils.
  • Porsche 911 Everlasting Love Stories
    Porsche 911 Everlasting Love Stories
    99,00 EUR
    Sixty years of the Porsche 911 – sixty years that stand for very personal, highly emotional relationships of love involving this sports car. Stories marked by love, lust and passion. Captured in this high-quality illustrated book.
  • ramp #61 Love Is in the Air
    ramp #61 Love Is in the Air
    20,00 EUR
    Blue skies, the scent of fresh grass, the warmth of the moment – but above all: sunshine. The light of the sun’s rays, scientists say, is the decisive factor at the beginning of the warm season that triggers the merry mix of happiness hormones which energetically drive us headlong into the summer.
  • rampstyle #27 By the Way
    rampstyle #27 By the Way
    20,00 EUR
    Did you know that between thirty and fifty percent of all scientific discoveries are the result of coincidence? Velcro, Viagra, X-rays – sometimes people find things without even looking for them, but they are rewarded with an unexpected alternative.
  • rampstyle #28 Into the Great Wide Open
    rampstyle #28 Into the Great Wide Open
    20,00 EUR
    An exclusive fashion editorial with Tim Bendzko. Unseen pictures by photographer Anouk Masson Krantz. A conversation with star director Guy Ritchie and a somewhat different interview with musician Dan Auerbach. All this and much more awaits you in this issue of rampstyle.
  • Director’s Cut: The Lamborghini Book
    Director’s Cut: The Lamborghini Book
    100,00 EUR
    Author texts, expert interviews and aesthetically pleasing imagery do the brand justice in all aspects and make the book a must-have for all car fans and Lamborghini enthusiasts. Alongside exclusive design sketches, an overview of all series models with full technical specifications completes this extraordinary and ambitious book project.
  • The Lamborghini Book
    The Lamborghini Book
    100,00 EUR
    Author texts, expert interviews and aesthetically pleasing imagery do the brand justice in all aspects and make the book a must-have for all car fans and Lamborghini enthusiasts. An overview of all series models with full technical specifications completes this extraordinary and ambitious book project.
  • ramp #60 Too Cool to Handle.
    ramp #60 Too Cool to Handle.
    20,00 EUR
    A magazine about coolness? Among other things. But one thing at a time. First of all, it’s off to the movies. There’s this businessman from Boston who helps relieve a bank of a substantial amount of money. The insurance companies are on to him, but they can’t prove a thing. That, in a nutshell, is the plot of...
  • ramp #59 Tomorrow Is Yesterday
    ramp #59 Tomorrow Is Yesterday
    18,00 EUR
    “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” was the title of an episode of the television series Star Trek, and although it was the nineteenth episode overall, it was the first to flicker into German living rooms fifty years ago this May. The story revolved around timelines and time travel.
  • rampstyle #26 Good News
    rampstyle #26 Good News
    15,00 EUR
    Two thin ovals far up inside a circle, a curved arc below, sketched on sunny yellow. In a split second, our brain has combined the elements into a smiling face, instantly putting us in a good mood. Wonderful! A smiley like that just feels good.
  • Men’s manual - Best of rampstyle by Michael Köckritz
    Men’s manual - Best of rampstyle by Michael Köckritz
    29,00 EUR
    Existential questions are answered here: How do I build the perfect sandcastle? How do I start a band? Is there a perfect record player? (Spoiler Alert: yes, there is). Men´s manual is a supergroup of sorts: ramp and teNeues throw together their concentrated expertise in lifestyle.
  • ramp #64 How About That!
    ramp #64 How About That!
    20,00 EUR
    Surprises open our eyes to new things, which now isn't really a big surprise. The unexpected simply stays in memory longer, sparks curiosity – and prompts action. Essential for adapting to a changing world. The future might just be warming up for progress. It's meant to move forward effectively.
  • rampstyle #31 Isn't That Something?
    rampstyle #31 Isn't That Something?
    20,00 EUR
    Focusing on the essentials, blocking out everything else... If you’re focused, you’ve already mastered one important key skill. In our multimodal world, focus is, unfortunately, a rather limited resource. In particularly focused moments, we forget all about time. But do we run the risk of developing tunnel vision? Does focus lose its power over time? Do we become habituated? Far from it. Unexpected surprises? Bring ‘em on!
  • ramp #63 Happy on the Road
    ramp #63 Happy on the Road
    20,00 EUR
    Happy on the road? You bet. For any respectable car culture magazine, after all, being happy on the road is a mandatory prerequisite. Over time, and with a little bit of luck (which is, after all, a close relative of happiness), these feelings cheerfully blossom into an emotional foundation that ...
  • rampstyle #30 Blue Skies
    rampstyle #30 Blue Skies
    20,00 EUR
    After “All Summer Long” here’s our follow-up issue with the title “Blue Skies”. Of course. Because readers who know a little something about the English singer and songwriter Chris Rea will have already noticed how we’ve come full circle here. The blue sky as a symbol of hopeful optimism about what’s to come.
  • ramp #62 Wild Things
    ramp #62 Wild Things
    20,00 EUR
    Just heading along, the journey itself a wonderfully blank page that presents itself to us with a cheerful unpredictability, as an inspired playing field for trial and error, for curiosity and spontaneity, unexpected surprises and flights of fancy. Wild and untamed. Just like life itself.
  • Director’s Cut: Luxury
    Director’s Cut: Luxury
    125,00 EUR
    Luxury is enticing and exciting, polarizing and provocative, not to mention that it is good for the economy. But the essence of luxury goes far beyond the material. Luxury appeals to our senses, our dreams and our desires. It immediately evokes images that are as precise as they are diverse. Luxury also triggers some pretty clear opinions – both favorable and unfavorable.
  • rampstyle #29 All Summer Long
    rampstyle #29 All Summer Long
    20,00 EUR
    Barcelona in summer. With Alvaro Soler - and a Porsche 911 SC. An approach to the phenomenon and the person Yves Saint Laurent. We spoke with Udo Kier in Palm Springs, and Luc Donckerwolke in his garage. And then there's the cover - and the associated story of House of Spoils.
  • Porsche 911 Everlasting Love Stories
    Porsche 911 Everlasting Love Stories
    99,00 EUR
    Sixty years of the Porsche 911 – sixty years that stand for very personal, highly emotional relationships of love involving this sports car. Stories marked by love, lust and passion. Captured in this high-quality illustrated book.
  • ramp #61 Love Is in the Air
    ramp #61 Love Is in the Air
    20,00 EUR
    Blue skies, the scent of fresh grass, the warmth of the moment – but above all: sunshine. The light of the sun’s rays, scientists say, is the decisive factor at the beginning of the warm season that triggers the merry mix of happiness hormones which energetically drive us headlong into the summer.
  • rampstyle #27 By the Way
    rampstyle #27 By the Way
    20,00 EUR
    Did you know that between thirty and fifty percent of all scientific discoveries are the result of coincidence? Velcro, Viagra, X-rays – sometimes people find things without even looking for them, but they are rewarded with an unexpected alternative.
  • rampstyle #28 Into the Great Wide Open
    rampstyle #28 Into the Great Wide Open
    20,00 EUR
    An exclusive fashion editorial with Tim Bendzko. Unseen pictures by photographer Anouk Masson Krantz. A conversation with star director Guy Ritchie and a somewhat different interview with musician Dan Auerbach. All this and much more awaits you in this issue of rampstyle.
  • Director’s Cut: The Lamborghini Book
    Director’s Cut: The Lamborghini Book
    100,00 EUR
    Author texts, expert interviews and aesthetically pleasing imagery do the brand justice in all aspects and make the book a must-have for all car fans and Lamborghini enthusiasts. Alongside exclusive design sketches, an overview of all series models with full technical specifications completes this extraordinary and ambitious book project.
  • The Lamborghini Book
    The Lamborghini Book
    100,00 EUR
    Author texts, expert interviews and aesthetically pleasing imagery do the brand justice in all aspects and make the book a must-have for all car fans and Lamborghini enthusiasts. An overview of all series models with full technical specifications completes this extraordinary and ambitious book project.
  • ramp #60 Too Cool to Handle.
    ramp #60 Too Cool to Handle.
    20,00 EUR
    A magazine about coolness? Among other things. But one thing at a time. First of all, it’s off to the movies. There’s this businessman from Boston who helps relieve a bank of a substantial amount of money. The insurance companies are on to him, but they can’t prove a thing. That, in a nutshell, is the plot of...
  • ramp #59 Tomorrow Is Yesterday
    ramp #59 Tomorrow Is Yesterday
    18,00 EUR
    “Tomorrow Is Yesterday” was the title of an episode of the television series Star Trek, and although it was the nineteenth episode overall, it was the first to flicker into German living rooms fifty years ago this May. The story revolved around timelines and time travel.
  • rampstyle #26 Good News
    rampstyle #26 Good News
    15,00 EUR
    Two thin ovals far up inside a circle, a curved arc below, sketched on sunny yellow. In a split second, our brain has combined the elements into a smiling face, instantly putting us in a good mood. Wonderful! A smiley like that just feels good.
  • Men’s manual - Best of rampstyle by Michael Köckritz
    Men’s manual - Best of rampstyle by Michael Köckritz
    29,00 EUR
    Existential questions are answered here: How do I build the perfect sandcastle? How do I start a band? Is there a perfect record player? (Spoiler Alert: yes, there is). Men´s manual is a supergroup of sorts: ramp and teNeues throw together their concentrated expertise in lifestyle.