Jethro Bovingdon


Jethro Bovingdon

IíM NOT BITTER.? Iím glad the guys have such a good time going out testing mighty turbocharged cars, as they have this issue. Even the all-electric Porsche Taycan is called a Turbo. Whatís going on there?

Anyway, it got me thinking about my favourite turbocharged engine ever. This isnít the usual Ďmotoring journalist-bangs-on-about-F40í tale, but we are heading to Italy, to a workshop in the shadow of the Artioli-era Bugatti headquarters in Modena.

The factory that built the EB110 GT and SS supercars is long since empty. Designed by Artioliís cousin, Giampaolo Benedini, itís made up of two glass-walled buildings ahead of the engineering and testing facilities, and the long production and assembly area.

The EB110 was created by supercar royalty Ė engineered by Paolo Stanzani of Lamborghini fame and then Nicola Materazzi (Stratos, 288 GTO, F40), styled by Gandini (Miura, Countach) and reworked by Benedini, and developed by Jean Phillippe Vittecoq (formerly of Michelin) and Loris Bicocchi, who went on to shape the dynamics of the Pagani Zonda, Bugatti Chiron and others. Its carbonfibre tub was built by French aerospace company Aerospatiale, and for a while it was the fastest car on the planet. The SS version recorded 351km/h. Oh, and it had a 3.5-litre quad-turbo, 60-valve V12 engine good for 450kW at 8250rpm.

Bugatti Automobili S.p.A went horribly wrong, the recession and the McLaren F1 combining to deal a killer blow in September 1995 after 84 EB110 GTs and 34 Supersports had been made. But some of the people involved couldnít let it go, which is what brings us here, to that humble workshop.

Thereís a prototype bus in one corner and a few other side jobs lie scattered around, but the main part of the building is stuffed with V12 components, tubs waiting to be built up and rack upon rack of EB110 spare parts. This is B Engineering, the creators of another supercar built from the bones of the EB110, the hideously beautiful and absurdly named ĎEdonisí.

Made from hand-beaten aluminium, it ditches the four-wheel drive system for a rear-drive layout and runs a new development of that sophisticated V12. Capacity is up from 3500cc to 3760cc, four small IHI turbochargers usurped by two big IHI RHC6s running 2.5bar. Output is pushed to 537kW at 8000rpm and 800Nm at 5250rpm.

Itís freezing cold when I experience it at full boost, beside deranged test driver Roberto Reggiani. ďToday we probably have 800bhp (600kW),Ē

he says. At 3900rpm thereís not much action, but the gale of boost is just starting to pick up. At 4000rpm the turbos are shrieking and the V12 suddenly feels like its packing 8000cc. Then, at just over 5000rpm, the world goes very blurry and Reggiani is winding on opposite lock, laughing and expertly measuring wheelspin against forward progress. Weíre in third gear. Same thing in fourth, only Iím closing my eyes.

Thereís no real soundproofing in the Edonis, so the cacophony of howling V12, demented turbochargers, fizzing wheelspin and gravel battering the carbonfibre tub is deafening. Itís amazing, terrifying and feels utterly untamed. I decide there and then that turbochargers are pretty cool devices. Especially when theyíre hooked up to a V12 designed in Modena.