Jay Leno is the lucky denim enthusiast who not only built the greatest and most organically evolving car collection on this planet but also started a show called Jay Leno’s Garage. These weekly episodes allow him to drive such exotica as a Bugatti EB110 and its descendant, the carbon-bodied Dauer EB110 S, without having to commit to a purchase. (Rumor has it that Leno’s McLaren F1 is picky about its neighbors.)
By now, you are probably familiar with the 1991–95 Bugatti EB110’s sad yet fascinating story. In case you aren’t, just know that if the McLaren F1 didn’t exist, the EB110 would be the most significant automotive achievement of the ’90s. Bespoke 60-valve quad-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-12, an equally unique six-speed gearbox, all-wheel drive, active aero package, and a comfortable 200+ mph top speed all day long. Due to the company’s troubled history, however, an array of EB110 variants roam the streets—not all of which were finished by Bugatti.
There are the functional Gandini-designed prototypes. Then the production EB110 GTs, produced by Romano Artioli’s team and tuned more towards comfort. These cars were followed by the EB110 Super Sports, with less weight and more power in the name of ultimate performance. Then came the pair of EB100 Competizione race cars, all set for GT1 glory. And after Campogalliano fell came Dauer, the German racing team that won Le Mans for Porsche in 1994, only to continue building EB110s with carbon-fiber bodies and V-12s tuned even more aggressively.
Derek Hill raced an EB110 Competizione, still with all-wheel drive, at the Daytona 24 Hours in 1996. His father, Phil Hill, pushed a number of production EB110s to their limits, including his stints during Road & Track’s performance test in 1994. Jay Leno already drove an EB110 GT around L.A.—and even has a spare Bugatti V-12 at his shop. You might ponder an LS-swap; Jay Leno, should he please, reserves the right to swap in that quad-turbocharged monster.
Today, the VW-owned Bugatti company will sell you a Chiron-based, EB110-homage Centodieci for $9 million, and you could order that in naked carbon. Yet would such a car beat EB110 S chassis #7598, one of the five carbon EB110s entirely built by Dauer in its Nuremberg workshop and the only one finished with a clear coat? Maybe in a straight line, if you kept at it beyond 200 mph...