More than a passion – Romano Artioli and his Bugatti EB 110 SS
A day full of emotions for Romano Artioli and Progetto 33 AG, the current owner of the Bugatti EB 110 SS which was the personal car of the entrepreneur that revived the Bugatti brand.
The meeting took place in the Bugatti “Fabbrica Blu” in Campogalliano, today a semi-deserted cathedral kept alive by the work of the old caretaker and his son, still madly in love with the one they call the perfect car, remembering as if it were yesterday the day when the fresh world champion Michael Schumacher came to Campogalliano to buy his yellow Bugatti EB 110 SS, in 1994.
Romano Artioli returns to the place he built so carefully to realize his dream of bringing the Bugatti brand back to the Olympus of high-performance cars, not hiding a sincere emotion from sitting back on the car he used regularly.
This Bugatti EB 110 SS was originally a Factory Car, a prototype to obtain homologation in the USA. The car was a Press Car and in 1995 made a promotional tour participating at the “Concorso Italiano” in Monterey, winning the People’s Choice Award. In America in the same year, the car also participated at the Chicago Auto Show. At the time it was light gray colored. When he returned to Italy, Romano Artioli decided to have it repainted in Blue Bugatti and today is the only SS of this color. The other blue sisters are of a different Pantone shade. The engine is in Le Mans configuration, but in road and non-racing version, with a power of 625 HP instead of 611 as the others.
This EB 110 SS is a Road Car with a particular history and Ownership of great importance for a Bugatti, as it is precisely configured and belonged to the entrepreneur who was recently recognized by Bugatti Automobiles SAS, by CEO Stephan Winkelmann, as an essential figure in the history of the company, whose passion and courage made it possible to revive the brand after almost 40 years of oblivion, since the factory was closed in 1953.
Speaking With Romano Artioli about the Bugatti EB 110 SS
The thing that excites me in interviewing you is that this was your car and we are right here in the “Fabbrica Blu” where Bugatti was dreamed and realized. How was Bugatti born in your head?
When we decided to manufacture Bugatti cars, we certainly asked ourselves “What would Ettore Bugatti do if he were still alive? Therefore, we set up the structure, everything that was connected with the automotive technique, the style and the evolution of materials and metals in order to be able to develop a real Bugatti car.
To avoid any misunderstandings, we didn’t even allow ourselves to think of imitating a Chevrolet engine, a Cadillac frame or a bodywork of another car. Instead, we decided that our specialists should give their best and therefore should start from a blank page, on which they had to draw every single detail of a car that would be a Bugatti and could be the Bugatti of the new century. Today, we must say that we have received such acknowledgement: after thirty years, there is still no competitor to be found that can affirm being superior or even close to the Bugatti design.
How sorry wERE you when you had to sell it?
I was very sorry to sell it, because it is part of a commitment that begun fifty years ago. We didn’t get to create Bugatti in five minutes as we didn’t have billions in savings to be invested. We generated cent by cent up to the moment when, after forty years of work, we finally were in the position to go to the French Government and say: “We are ready to make sure that this scandal comes to an end: Bugatti, the most beautiful world car, was abandoned and now is being sold together with scraps. So, please, let us buy it and bring it back to its splendour”. The negotiations to convince the French Government lasted three years, but we finally made it and started working head down, to make this dream come true. In order to make it, something very important had to be accomplished: we needed a framework that couldn’t be a classic car factory such as we remember it, that sort of closed building with walls and artificial lights. Our goal was to transform our work into a dream. You usually start with a dream to get to the completed job. For us it was the other way around: we did the job to reach the dream.
If you had to say how the EB 110 SS was so great. What do you think this car still has as a visionary?
First, very simply, all cars manufactured and that are still being developed by our competitors after our takeover, are presented as the “world’s fastest car”. Well, if we are speaking in terms of speed, we are still at the top in this range of power and capacity. If someone wishes to speed at 600 km/h, it is certainly possible. A different matter is the question whether there really is the need to speed at 600 km/h and if there is enough space to drive at 600 km/h. In the end, what is the purpose of such high speed? You would have to use the car in some sort of locked “temple” to race at 600 km/h. But if you want to really use this car on a daily basis to get to work, it is possible to drive it at a walking pace, wait in a queue and to race up the Stelvio hairpin bends beating everybody: this is the ideal car. This is the type of car that to this day, has the characteristics to be driven everywhere.
There’s a wonderful personality of the past, who painted the Mona Lisa, a fantastic masterpiece. Well, Bugatti made 139 Mona Lisas. Each one of these cars is, to us, the embodiment of Bugatti, they all comprised an extraordinary quality and had to be cars that could be used in all conditions without problems. All the people who used to work with us – at the time our suppliers were ELF, Michelin, the Aérospatiale, etc. – had committed themselves to give us only their best. We had the perfect motor oils and fuels. To this day, you can wait up to thirty years to only have to change the motor oil and the filter of these cars. If you can find another top performance sports car that can do all this, I’m ready to sell everything to buy it.
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