1931 Bugatti Type 51
|Model History||Auction sales research||Specifications||Body styles and Chassis Data|
Engine/Mechanical Component Photos
Dr. Samuel Scher went searching for a Bugatti Type 51 in the late 1940s, but none were available. Several months later, one was located and it had never been raced. The car was purchased by Dr. Scher, reconditioned by the Paris Bugatti agents, and then shipped to the US. Upon its arrival, the car was painted and upholstered and given to Harry Gray to drive in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) race at Linden, New Jersey, which he won. The following season, Bill Milliken drove the car in SCCA competition. On January 3rd of 1950, at a race in Palm Beach, Florida, Milliken missed a shift, resulting in a connecting rod to go through the crankcase.
The damage was never repaired as it passed through several owners throughout the years. It was owned by Jack Nethercutt and later purchased by Dr. Peter and Susan Williamson in 1964.
In the mid-1990s, Jim Stranberg at High Mountain Classics undertook the task of repairing the car. There were various indications that the car was a Type 35A, but there was no Molsheim chassis number. The engine number 55228 was a Type 55 that was re-built to Type 51 specifications. The trail for engine number 55228 led to Monsieur Leloup, the last known owner, who had also owned a Type 35A number 4654, engine number 44A.
Apparently, when Dr. Scher had been searching for the Type 51, a Type 55 engine and Type 35A chassis had been located, all reconditioned by the Paris Bugatti agents. A replacement chassis was issued by the BOC in the UK. The plate number was 4654, which can now be found on the car.
The car now wears an alloy body which was built by Bunny Phillips. The interior is tan leather and there are dual aeroscreens and an electric starter and cooling fan. The car has no fenders nor are there any road lights.
The engine is a 2262cc eight-cylinder unit with dual overhead camshafts and capable of producing 180 horsepower. There are Zenith carburetors and a Roots supercharger.
In 2008, this 1925/31 Bugatti Type 35A/51 Grand Prix car was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company auction held in Pebble Beach, CA. The car was offered without reserve and estimated to sell for $1,300,000 - $1,800,000. As the gavel fell for the third and final time, the car had been sold for $907,500, including buyer's premium.
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2009
|Auction Sales Information|
|Auction||Gooding & Company|
|Greenwich Concours - European Cars||Prewar|
|Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance||Bugatti - 100 Years of Style and Speed|
|Gooding & Company||1911-1929|