JAN 28th 2015

GRR Read Test: Bugatti EB110 is an unsung hero, discovers Octane

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bugatti-eb110-octane-magazineA Frazer Nash called Le Mans Coupé with a period Le Mans race history. What’s not to like?

You can decide that for yourself at the 73rd Members’ Meeting on Saturday 21 March. The bad news is you won’t see this pretty little coupé in action; the good news is you could end up driving it home…

Star lot at Bonhams’ inaugural Members’ Meeting sale, the 1955 Frazer Nash Le Mans Coupé certainly justifies its top billing. It was the last Frazer Nash to compete in the Vingt Quattre Heures du Mans in 1959.

It was no stranger either to Goodwood, where it has been back recently, this time in the hands of Octane magazine which in the new March issue out today delights in telling this gorgeous car’s story.

Oh, and also finds out just what it’s like to drive, though impressions are in fact a little sparse. Something to do perhaps with the seat having to be removed to allow the lanky Tony Dron to fit in!

The car, Octane reports, was bought originally as a road car by Kitty Maurice, owner of Castle Combe airfield-turned-motor circuit. It was never going to be the fastest car at La Sarthe in ’59, but a car like it had won its class, and come 13th overall, at Le Mans in 1953.

And how did Frazer Nash’s last Le Mans hurrah go? Not too brilliantly, the car running out of brakes and ending up in the sand at Arnage after just Trois Heures du Mans.

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But, hey, a Le Mans history is a Le Mans history. And anyway (says Dron, seated on the carpet) it makes a ‘superb roadgoing sports car even today, quick enough to outperform modern traffic’. It is, he concludes, ‘a true thoroughbred of the old school.’

Let’s just hope its new owner isn’t too tall…

There’s more Goodwood in the new issue: the estate makes the appropriate backdrop for photographs of a pair of Rolls-Royces, the one-off 1951 Silver Dawn Pininfarina coupé and the car it inspired, the new Wraith.

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The cars, says the writer, might not be dynamically comparable but they do offer a strong sense of evolution. They are ‘book-ends of the fastest Rolls-Royces of their respective eras’. So which would he have? ‘Ideally you’d want one of each.’

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The cars look great on the Goodwood hillclimb but, fantastically fast though the 624bhp Wraith might be, decorum is maintained at all times. For a scary, hang-on-tight action shot it is elsewhere in this issue that you must look…

To a V12-powered Ferrari single-seater, in fact. Which is flat chat, in the wet. The very wet. And what a sight this ‘three-point’ Ferrari racing boat makes. It’s powered by the very engine that Ascari/Villoresi used at Le Mans in 1953.

 

If you do have to commute across Lake Como then this is surely the only way to do it. As long as you have the appropriate road car for when you disembark…

 

A Bugatti would do. But a Bugatti EB110? World’s fastest car in 1991 it might have been, but aren’t they unloved and, well, a bit awkward looking?

Octane – which devotes its cover to the enigmatic Bug – says the car was misunderstood and should be ranked as an all-time great. It is fast, of course, but also comfortable and easy to drive, they find.

‘That a car packing more than 600bhp can be so refined and exploitable is a feat of breathtaking creativity.’

Why not more successful then? Something to do with a car called the McLaren F1. But as Octane points out, today ‘you could conceivably buy 10 EB110s for one F1’.

That Bugatti is looking better by the minute…

GRR Read Test verdict

 

 

Buy it for that crazy Ferrari boat

 

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