Thursday, May 15, 2014

Giugiaro's Bugatti EB218 Concept Car

The Bugatti automobile firm (Wikipedia entry here) was at its zenith during the 1920s and 30s.  World War 2 and the occupation of France by Germany marked the practical end of the marque.  Founder Ettore Bugatti died in 1947 and the firm expired in 1952 with few cars having been made postwar.

In 1998, Volkswagen purchased rights to Bugatti (see here), and commissioned ItalDesign (led by Giogetto Giugiaro) to create design concepts.  One of these is the subject of this post, the Bugatti EB218 of 1999.

To put the EB218 into one context, here are two postwar closed-car Bugatti Type 101 designs (note that the rears of the cars are reflected in mirrors):

The upper image is of a design by Louis Lucien Lepoix, the lower is a Gangloff design from 1951.

Now let's take a look at the EB218.


This photo from elsewhere on the Internet was taken at a Pebble Beach Concours d'Élegance.  The setting is the lawn between the Lodge and the shops.  I include this photo because it was taken from a near-normal point of view (the position of the camera was slightly down-slope from the car).  The publicity photos below were done from a low angle for some reason.

Another three-quarter front view.  Note how Giugiaro curved (and re-proportioned) the traditional 1920s/1930s Bugatti grille design for aerodynamic reasons.

Side view.  Aside from a bit of tuck-in at the lower part and sides that become nearly flat and curve inward very slightly towards their bottoms, the body could have been plucked from a mold, because most of the surfaces curve away from the center of the top.

Rear view. Note the windsplit on the top and trunk that is interrupted by the backlight (rear window). Earlier, Giugiaro created another Bugatti concept, the EB112, that had a continuous windsplit and a divided backlight somewhat in the vein of the classic 1963 Corvette Sting Ray coupé.

Giugiaro is difficult to criticize because he is so good.  To me, the main flaw of the EB218 lies in its proportions -- to wit, the passenger compartment greenhouse is too tall for the rest of the body, or the lower body is too low relative to the height of the car.  I would have split the difference.

What I do not know is whether or not Giugiaro was handed a package specification that gave him little freedom in terms of dimensions.  That possible factor aside, at the time the car was designed, large greenhouses with plenty of glass area were fashionable.  So maybe he wanted to create a design that would be acceptable under current market conditions.

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