Bugatti is paying homage to two milestones with the creation of the special-series Centodieci (Italian for 110) —1991’s historic EB110 (which was created to commemorate the 110th anniversary of founder Ettore Bugatti’s birth) and the 110th anniversary of the start of operation for the company he founded, Automobiles Ettore Bugatti.
“With the Centodieci, we pay homage to the EB110 super sports car which was built in the 1990s and is very much a part of our tradition-steeped history,” says Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti. “With the EB110, Bugatti catapulted itself to the top of the automotive world once again after 1956 with a new model.”
The Centodieci design is reminiscent of the EB110, taking the then ground-breaking shape and technology and bringing it to an automotive world that has evolved so quickly in the nearly three decades since, making it sportier than Bugatti’s latest offerings, the Chiron and Divo, and more extreme and elegant than Bugatti’s La Voiture Noire.
“We faced a number of technical challenges in terms of the development and design of the Centodieci,” says Achim Anscheidt, Head Designer at Bugatti. “The challenge was not to allow oneself to be captivated too much by the design of the historic vehicle and work solely in retrospect, but instead to create a modern interpretation of the shape and technology of that time.”
The look had to evolve dramatically — The EB110 was very flat, wedge-shaped and almost 2-dimensional, which what was believed to represent aerodynamic sportiness at the time.
“Transporting this classic look into the new millennium without copying it was technically complex, to say the least,” explains Anscheidt. “We had to create a new way of combining the complex aerothermal requirements of the underlying Chiron technology with a completely different aesthetic appearance.”
The flat signature radiator opening (which has grown substantially in prominence since the tiny opening of the EB110, but has been scaled back somewhat from those of recent Bugatti models) shows its depth in side view, and is blended together with a deep-seated spoiler and 3-section air intakes to create a very low nose.
The headlights provided another technology leap forward, with slit-like composite elements taking advantage of modern lighting technology to replace the EB110’s covered round headlamps without modifying the shape of the hood and bezels too dramatically.
The profile blends the classic Italian wedge of the EB110 (where the movement of body lines appears to come from the rear wheels to the front in a great “leap forward”) with the C-curve of the B-pillars in recent cars, though the curvature has been squared off behind five circular openings that provided engine cooling in the EB110.
The rear is also a blend of old and new, with the now full-width taillight element broken off into sections to harken to the EB110’s fascia that housed a series of engine thermal openings housed between taillights at the corners. Like on the EB110, the rear wing is fixed in place (recent Bugattis have deployable rear wings that also act as air brakes to enhance stopping).
As in the EB110, the Centodieci’s engine is housed under a clear panel, but the powerplant is the thoroughly modern 1600-hp 8.0-litre quad-turbo W-16, which came into use on EB110’s successor, the Veyron. Zero to 100 km/h takes a reported 2.4 seconds, 200 km/h is reached in 6.1 seconds and 300 km/h comes around in 13.1. Top speed is electronically limited to 380 km/h.
“It’s not just the top speed that makes a hyper sports car,” says Winkelmann. “With the Centodieci, we once again demonstrate that design, quality and performance are just as important.”
And though the Centodieci is introduced in stark white (in sharp contrast to the La Voiture Noire, which was utterly black), customers will be allowed to choose whatever colour they choose (presumably even the classic Bugatti blue).
Only 10 cars will be handcrafted in Molsheim, France (and yes, they’re all spoken for) to be delivered over the coming two years at a cost of €8 million each (about $11.8 million Canadian).