The story of Bertone’s unknown Bugatti

An (almost) unknown Bugatti, is it possible? Yes, especially since this one is only a 1/1 scale model (above and below) with no engine. But the ambition was great. This proposal comes from Bertone, and it dates from 1990, when Bugatti was in the hands of Romano Artioli for only three years.

In 1989, Artioli founded Bugatti Automobili SpA. On September 15, 1991, the first creation of this “Italian” era was unveiled in the presence of Alain Delon: it was the spectacular EB 110 (below), of which only 126 were sold, excluding prototypes and test cars.

The Bugatti of the Artioli era was originally the object of many fantasies and proposals of great designers, and not the least. At the 63rd Turin Motor Show in 1990, Giorgetto Giugiaro unveiled his first Bugatti, based on the technical specifications provided by the parent company in 1989. The 4.10 m long car was called the ID90 (below). This proposal was not retained, but it arrived well before Bugatti fell into the arms of Volkswagen in 1998. Giugiaro was more productive under Ferdinand Piëch. Volkswagen integrated the brand in November 2021 into a joint venture created by Porsche and Rimac Automobili.

In 1990, Giugiaro was not the only one to sniff out the good news and like its Italian rival, Carrozzeria Bertone also decided to try the adventure. At Bertone, the news is light years away from the Bugatti brand: it is the Citroën XM, presented in 1989, which sublimates the Italian design, created by… the Frenchman Marc Deschamps.

In 1990, Marc Deschamps created the Chevrolet Corvette Nivola car powered by the 5.7 litre V8 of the Corvette ZR1. The Frenchman was inspired to create the model of the first Bugatti by Bertone. But Romano Artioli has already set his sights on the design of his EB110, which was finalized by an architect-trained designer, Giampaolo Benedini, resulting in quite singular lines.  

The Bertone model, made of plaster and semi-cavity, served as the basis for the Italian concept car of 1991: the Lotus Esprit Emotion (above). Because at Bertone, Marc Deschamps duplicates his ideas, as requested by the boss Nuccio Bertone.

In 1986, three years before the release of the Bertone XM, the coachbuilder proposed to Alfa Romeo a large coupé based (above) on the Citroën’s design themes! Alfa did not follow up on this rather convincing design proposal.

But internally, Bertone can afford to take the themes of ‘his’ unknown 1990 Bugatti (above and below) and adapt them to the Lotus Emotion concept car, back in 1991. Artioli, a former Bugatti and Lotus Cars owner, must have been smiling when he discovered this Bertone Lotus.


Marc Deschamps returned to the Bugatti EB 110 in 2001 when he designed the Edonis (below), which incorporates part of its drivetrain. The French designer was responsible for the surprising silhouette of this amazing Edonis, which was presented at the beginning of the 21st century. It is therefore unofficially the first new car of the third millennium…

The company B-Engineering, based in Modena, was responsible for the design. This company, wanted by Jean-Marc Borel, who had already initiated the Bugatti renaissance during the Romano Artioli era, did not succeed in its challenge of producing 21 cars (for the 21st century). Marc Deschamps, on the other hand, will deploy his energy by collaborating with the company Irisbus from 2004 onwards.

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L'histoire de la Bugatti inconnue de Bertone

Une Bugatti (presque) inconnue, est-ce possible ? Oui, d’autant que celle-ci n’est qu’une maquette échelle 1/1 (ci-dessus et ci-dessous) qui ne possède pas de moteur. Mais l’ambition était grande. Cette proposition vient de chez Bertone, et elle date de 1990, alors que Bugatti est aux mains de Romano Artioli depuis trois […]

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