A broken driveshaft in the Bugatti-based Edonis – evo Archive

How this Bugatti-based, turn-of-the-millennium V12 rarity defined a new benchmark for ferocity at evo

You won’t find the Edonis scale listed alongside the Richter or Beaufort, but for a long time John Barker and Jethro Bovingdon would refer to it. If one of them had driven a particularly quick or especially hairy car, the other would enquire where it lay on the Edonis scale… of terror and ferocity. 

In case you’re not familiar with the sole car to emerge from B Engineering, it was essentially a Bugatti EB110 (the silver car picture here) but with half the number of turbos, half the number of driven wheels and about triple the road presence. Oh, and 720bhp.

> Buying a Quattro for the launch of the Audi TT – evo Archive

Its reputation stemmed from the second time that John and Jethro drove it (we’ll get to the first time in a minute). 

‘We went to Italy for a week,’ recalls John. ‘You got ill.’

‘I was sick as a dog,’ says Jethro.

‘And I ended up writing the whole thing, you bastard.’

‘We stayed in this weird hotel. Didn’t they give us some nut liqueur that they’d made in the basement?’

‘Yes, it was nearly as frightening as the car.’

And what about the car?

‘It was sunny but freezing cold when we did the photo shoot,’ says John, ‘and I remember saying at the time, if someone told me this had 1000bhp I would believe them. It was so fast, and scary as hell. The test driver was a lunatic.’

In issue 078, John wrote: ‘In any of the first three gears the fat 355 section rear Michelins can’t resist the force. Thing is, it feels like full boost arrives at 4000rpm, which fools you into thinking the rear tyres can cope. But a moment later it hits the peak of 590lb ft at 5250rpm and suddenly you’re winding on opposite lock as fast as you can, in a straight line.’

So that’s where the Edonis scale came from. But the previous occasion when Barker, Bovingdon and B Engineering had met, the Edonis came off worst.

‘We were at RAF Bentwaters in Suffolk,’ says Jethro. ‘S Club Juniors were there too, doing a video shoot.’

Were they there Together… until Sundown? 

‘What?’ 

Don’t pretend you don’t get the reference, we’ve all seen your Spotify playlists.

‘Anyway…’ interjects John, ‘we were trying to get together the fastest cars available to record some performance figures for issue 047, but only two turned up. The other one was a McLaren F1 GTR, which we’d borrowed from Nick Mason but weren’t allowed to drive. We took the Edonis right to the end of the runway, not knowing that there was a really grippy surface on that part to stop the planes dropping off the end.’

Jethro picks up the story: ‘I remember the chaps from B Engineering said, “Just don’t launch the car because it’s been abused at the Goodwood Festival of Speed over the last few days,” and John said, “No, no, we’re just going to do some in-gear figures.” Then they went with Andy Morgan to a spot about halfway down the runway to watch. I remember John putting the revs up and I was just thinking “What the hell is he doing?” when he dropped the clutch and it went BANG! There was this silence. And then I remember his hand came down and he slowly waggled the gearlever and just said, “Ooh, ya bugger.”’

‘Fair play to them, though,’ says John while Jethro is incapacitated, crying with laughter. ‘They flew a new driveshaft in from Italy overnight and then fixed it in a truck bay at the airfield. Amazingly they let us do the in-gear times the following day. Didn’t try another standing start though.’

And twenty years later, is it still up there on the Edonis scale? 

‘Definitely.’

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