1933 Bugatti Type 51 Boattail Roadster / 51153 Vehicle Information

1933 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1933 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1933 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1933 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1933 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1933 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1933 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1933 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1933 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1933 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1933 Bugatti Type 511933 Bugatti Type 511933 Bugatti Type 511933 Bugatti Type 511933 Bugatti Type 511933 Bugatti Type 511933 Bugatti Type 511933 Bugatti Type 511933 Bugatti Type 511933 Bugatti Type 51
Boattail Roadster
Chassis #: 51153
Engine #: 20
Sold for $758,500 at 2019 RM Sothebys : Amelia Island.
This Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix is the first of a batch of five Type 51s slated for build. On July 4th of 133 it was registered to Automobiles Ettore Bugatti of Molsheim and served as a Works factory race and test car for the next nine months. The racing history is not fully known but it is believed that this example perhaps participated in several important races while driven by the famed René Dreyfus.

Bugatti entered three Type 51 examples at the Belgian Grand Prix on July 9th of 1933. Drivers included Achille Varzi, Dreyfus, and William Grover-Williams, who finished 2nd, 3rd, and 6th, respectively. Six days later, at the Dieppe Grand Prix, Dreyfus placed 2nd while Williams' car retired early. It is assumed that Dreyfus drove this example to his 2nd place finish at the Nice Grand Prix on August 6th and the Coppa Acerbo in Pescara the following week. Dreyfus may have also driven the car at the Czechoslovakian Grand Prix on September 17th where he finished 4th.

After the 1933 season, the car was mechanically overhauled by the factory, including being given a new rear axle ratio of 11 x 55. This ratio may have been intended for the Monaco Grand Prix on April 2nd of 1934, where Pierre Veyron finished 9th in a Type 51.

The car was mechanically renewed again in early April 1934 by the factory in preparation for sale. On April 13th it was invoiced to Giovanni Alloatti, a resident of Turin. The car was entered in the Targa Florio on May 20th but failed to finish the race, retiring on the second lap due to an accident. The car returned to the factory for repairs, and it may be at this point the car's current frame, no. 256, originally for a Type 35, was installed as presently configured.

In December of 1936, the Type 51 was imported to England by Jack Lemon Burton. It 1942 it was sold to Allan Arnold. After the war, the Bugatti was modified for sprints and hill climbs, replacing the coachwork with a lightweight two-piece body with cycle wings, believed to have been designed and built at the Arnold coachworks.

Over the next two years, the Bugatti raced in various events in northern England, including races at Prescott on three occasions, and at Brighton once. In early August 1947, the set a course record of 14.8 seconds at the Hartlepool quarter-mile sprint.

During 1949, the car received additional modifications that included the installation of an ENV pre-selector gearbox, Newton telescopic shock absorbers, externally actuated Lockheed hydraulic brakes, and dual external exhaust pipes. A two-stage supercharger sourced from a Type 50 was also experimented with.

J. Wilkins acquired the car in May of 1950, who reinstalled the original gearbox. The car was sold to J.M. Pratt before being acquired by Jim Barry of Heywood, Lancashire.

Near the close of the 1950s, around 1959, it was imported to the United States and offered by New York's Vintage Car Store, now wearing a bobtail racing body which had previously been fitted to chassis 51152.

It is believed that the next owner was Lynn Mayfield of La Jolla, California and in 1963 it was sold to Raymond Jones, of Michigan. In 1967 it was sold to Ernest 'Jack' Nuttle, who sought to restore the car.

The car wears recreation coachwork and a restoration that was performed in 1973. Around 1983, the car was sold to Bob Shaw of Antioch, Illinois. In 1986 it entered the collection of Bill Jacobs before passing to Peter Giddings and then Joe Masin of California before being sold in 1994 to Peter Mullin. The current caretaker acquired the car in 2011.


By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2019


2019 RM Sothebys : Amelia Island

Pre-Auction Estimates :
USD $1,250,000-USD $1,600,000 
Sale Price :
USD $758,500

Recent Sales

(Data based on Model Year 1933 sales)
1933 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix
Chassis#: 51153
Sold for USD$758,500
  2019 RM Sothebys : Amelia Island
1933 Bugatti Type 51 image  1933 Bugatti Type 51 image  
1933 Bugatti Grand Prix Type 51 Biplace
Chassis#: 738
Sold for USD$1,283,800
  2011 Bonhams - Automobilia, Motos de collection et Automobiles d'exception au Grand Palais
 

Vehicles That Failed To Sell

1933 Bugatti Type 51's that have appeared at auction but did not sell.
VehicleChassisEventHigh BidEst. LowEst. High

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Vehicle Profiles

Chassis information for the Bugatti Type 511931 Boattail Roadster
Chassis Num: 51132
Engine Num: 15
Chassis information for the Bugatti Type 51 Coupe1931 Coupe
Coachbuilder: Dubos
Chassis Num: 51133
Chassis information for the Bugatti Type 511933 Boattail Roadster
Chassis Num: 51153
Engine Num: 20


Vehicle information, history, and specifications from concept to production.

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