In the illustrious history of Bugatti, we’ve seen a plethora of fascinating creations. Whether they were production models, motorsport specials, or prototypes whose elements later influenced serial models, the brand has never ceased to amaze. Today, we revisit one of these visionary creations — the Bugatti EB218.
Revealed to the public in 1999, the Bugatti EB218 was an audacious attempt to create a four-door sedan poised to outclass even the venerable Rolls-Royce and Maybach models of its era. The pièce de résistance? An almost surreal 18-cylinder engine lurking under its bonnet.
The journey to the EB218 began in 1993 when Bugatti enlisted the genius of Giorgetto Giugiaro and his design house, Italdesign. The result was the EB112, a car that dared to introduce a four-door coupe silhouette before the likes of the Mercedes CLS. However, powered by a comparatively modest V12 engine with 460 horsepower, the EB112 never saw production, especially with Bugatti facing financial hardships, culminating in its acquisition by the Volkswagen Group.
But 1999 was a different story. Volkswagen was on an innovative spree, keen on reviving the Bugatti brand with groundbreaking designs. Their workshops were buzzing with W-shaped engines, and Giugiaro seemed the best fit to design the next Bugatti four-door masterpiece. The stakes were higher than ever, aiming for the pinnacle of luxury.
Working closely with VW engineers, Giugiaro unveiled the Bugatti EB218. Ditching the coupe-esque design, it embraced subtle classic lines especially at the rear, tailored for the top-tier clientele. Measuring 5.38 meters in length, with a 3-meter wheelbase, the car weighed 2,180 kg. Its engine had a unique configuration of three 6-cylinder blocks, which, due to engineering complexities, ended up sounding similar to a V12, but with two cylinders firing simultaneously every other combustion event. It was a symphony of engineering chaos, and many labeled it pure insanity.
However, this intricate engine design never became a reality. The subsequent Veyron, famed for its W16 engine, adopted a more conventional setup. To this day, Bugatti hasn’t ventured into the ultra-luxury four-door sedan market, leaving that arena for Bentley and focusing on staggering performance.
In automotive annals, the Bugatti EB218 stands tall as one of the most audacious engineering marvels ever conceived.