Bugatti traveled to Pebble Beach, California, to introduce a sold-out hypercar named Centodieci. The limited-edition model celebrates the company's 110th birthday (centodieci means one hundred and ten in Italian), while shedding light on a chapter of its history that's often left unexplored.
The EB110 was unusually designed and manufactured in Italy, inconveniently far from Bugatti's historic home in Molsheim, but purposely close to Ferrari's Modena headquarters. It comes from the same era as the original Game Boy and R. L. Stine's Goosebumps series, so interpreting its key design cues on a Bugatti penned with an eye on the 2020s was easier said than done.
It's shaped like a door stop, its headlights are mounted relatively close together, and its grille is almost comically small. "Those are the ingredients I had to cook something modern with," Achim Anscheidt, the company's head of design, told Autoblog. Blatantly copying the EB110 was out of the question, so his team put a modern spin on its defining features. The Centodieci doesn't need to be shown next to the original; it stands on its own.
Pill-shaped lights and a metal panel with slots that give hot air a way to escape the engine bay dominate the EB110's rear end. The Centodieci is a prima donna when it comes to cooling, however, because it packs considerably more power than its spiritual predecessor. Working closely with Bugatti's research and development department, Anscheidt chose to vent the rear end's entire width, and use 3D lighting elements to replicate the cooling slots. This solution works well and channels both the base GT and the more hardcore SS variants of the EB110.
Bugatti wrapped the head-turning body around Chiron underpinnings. It's made largely with carbon fiber to keep weight in check, and it's powered by an 8.0-liter W16 engine, quad-turbocharged to 1,600 horsepower at 7,000 rpm, a 100-horsepower increase over the Chiron. Part engine and part work of art, the 16-cylinder sends its power to the four wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that can be left in drive, or shifted manually using steering wheel-mounted paddles. To add context, the EB110 used a quad-turbocharged, 3.5-liter V12 rated at 560 horsepower. It featured a six-speed manual transmission, and permanent all-wheel drive.
The Centodieci hits 62 mph from a stop before you reach the end of this sentence; it takes 2.4 seconds. 124 mph comes in 6.1 seconds, and it gets to 186 mph in 13.1 seconds. Bugatti installed a speed limiter which caps the car's top speed at 236 mph. Its body kit – including an EB110 SS-inspired adjustable rear wing – generates nearly 200 pounds of downforce.
The 10 examples of the Centodieci that Bugatti plans to build have already found a home. The French firm reached out to its most loyal clients shortly after it started the project, and it had no trouble selling the entire production run in spite of a base price pegged at 8 million euros (nearly $9 million). 10 wasn't chosen at random; it's a number that keeps the car exclusive, without summoning a dark cloud of disapproval from the customers who purchased the 40 available examples of the Divo, or the anonymous collector who allegedly paid over $18 million for the one-off La Voiture Noire unveiled at the 2019 Geneva auto show.
"We took into account what the Divo customer wants to digest as another few-off project, what kind of price point is digested, and how many clients we would have for that price point. We need to create a balance between one-off, few-off, and 40-off models to avoid upsetting customers left and right," Anscheidt told Autoblog.
He hinted Bugatti's next model won't be shaped by the economic intricacies of the collector car market. Work on the Centodieci is on-going, the first deliveries aren't scheduled until 2021, but he doesn't think the prestigious firm should release one-off and few-off models on a regular basis.
"I think we should take a break, maybe for a longer time. I don't think we should do homage cars every half a year or so, because this would devaluate the other special cars," he opined. Customers understandably want the cars they paid millions of dollars for to remain exclusive. That doesn't mean the men and women tasked with creating new Bugatti models will sit back and enjoy Alsace until it's time to make another batch of multi-million-dollar hypercars.
"This year, we committed ourselves to these two projects. Now, maybe we'll look towards other interesting possibilities," he said without providing more specific details.