1931 Bugatti Type 51 Boattail Roadster / 51132 Vehicle Information

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 51 photograph

1931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 511931 Bugatti Type 51
Boattail Roadster
Chassis #: 51132
Engine #: 15
High bid of $2,750,000 at 2010 RM Auctions - Sports & Classics of Monterey. (did not sell)
Sold for $3,740,000 at 2018 Gooding & Company : Pebble Beach.
This 1931 Bugatti Type 51 is powered by engine number 15; it originally was a Type 35B wearing chassis number 4961, and part of the four-car Bugatti works team in the 1930 Targa Florio. The car was later entered in the Grand Prix of Europe at Spa. Since this race was run to fuel-consumption formula, this car - along with the 2 other Type 35Bs entered in the race - were converted to to two-liter Type 35C specifications. They were given bolster fuel tanks and smaller superchargers. Chassis 4961 was driven by Guy Bouriat led the race, but stopped near the finish line to allow team leader Chrion, under team orders, to pass and take the win, and thereby become 1930 Champion of Europe.

After the Grand Prix, this Bugatti underwent a factory conversion, bringing it to Type 51 specifications. It was hoped that the car would be ready in time for the French Grand Prix, but the conversion took longer than anticipated. The work was completed in June of 1931 and it was re-numbered as 51132, registered for road use by the factory, and used throughout the year as a works practice car.

In December, the car was delivered to French racing driver Jean-Pierre Wimille for the price of 140,000 francs. During the 1932 season, Wimille raced extensively in this car, winning the Oran Grand Prix in Algeria on May 2nd.

In 1936, the car was imported to the US by Bradley Martin. It was entered by McClure Halley for Texan Dave Evans to drive in the inaugural George Vanderbilt Cup. The race was a 300 mile event held on New York's Long island on October 12th. Of the 45 entrants, Evnas qualified the car 36th and finished 14th.

The car was later sold with a damaged engine to author Ralph Stein. The damaged section of the crankshaft was repaired, but the problem re-emerged a few years later. In 1940, it was sold George Weaver, who installed either a Frontenac or a Peerless Marine engine.

Ownership passed to David Uihlein of Milwaukee in the early 1950s. Thomas Rosenberger of Milwaukee is listed as the cars next owner, selling it to Paul Moser of Santa Barbara, California in 1979. In 1985 it was purchased by Klaus Werner of Germany.

While in Werner's care, the car was re-united with its original engine. It was used in historic European racing events for a number of years before it was sold in the early 1990s.

The car is currently fitted with frame number 732 and engine number 15. The 2.3-liter straight-eight cylinder Dual Overhead Cam engine has a roots-type supercharger and an available 160 horsepower. There is a four-speed transmission, 4-wheel mechanical drum brakes, and a leaf-spring suspension.

In 2008, this Type 51 Grand Prix was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company Auction held in Pebble Beach, California. Bidding failed to satisfy the vehicle's un-listed reserve, and the lot was left unsold.

In 2010, this car was offered for sale at the 'Sports & Classics of Monterey' presented by RM Auctions. It was estimated to sell for $3,500,000 - $4,500,000. Bidding reached $2,750,000 but was not enough to satisfy the car's reserve. It would leave the auction unsold.


By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2010
Boattail Roadster
Chassis #: 51132
Engine #: 15
High bid of $2,750,000 at 2010 RM Auctions - Sports & Classics of Monterey. (did not sell)
Sold for $3,740,000 at 2018 Gooding & Company : Pebble Beach.
In 1930 Bugatti announced the Type 51 twin-cam grand prix car. The new model represented the best of racing technology on the track for the 1931 season. With other manufacturers constantly upping the ante, it was incumbent upon Bugatti to continually improve its game. Accordingly, 1931 saw two additions to the Bugatti lineup: the Type 51 and the Type 54. The Type 51 was a high point for Bugatti racecar construction. The car featured a new engine layout that borrowed heavily from the design of the two Miller 91 racecars that Ettore had exchanged for three Bugatti Type 43s in 1929. The Type 51 had a 2.3-liter engine with double overhead camshafts, a new block featuring ninety-five-degree inclined valves, and wheels with ribs inside the spokes, making them significantly stronger. Between 1931 and 1935 Bugatti produced forty Type 51 Grand Prix cars. A very competitive car, the Type 51 won the Monaco Grand Prix and several other major races in its first season. The Type 51 earned Bugatti's last significant Grand Prix victory against major opposition at the 1933 Monaco Grand prix.

A factory racecar, this Bugatti Type 51 first raced at the ten-hour Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps piloted by Albert Divo and Guy Bouriat.

In December of 1931 the factory sold the car to Jean-Pierre Wimille, who entered it in many races before selling it to Charles Brunet in December 1932. Prior to its sale, it was rebuilt by the Bugatti factory with frame number 732.

Robert Brunet raced the car for two years and then sold it to an American buyer in 1934. It was shipped to the United Sates and sold to McClure Halley of Brooklyn, who entered it in the 1933 Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) Grand Prix and the 1936 George Vanderbilt Cup Race. Automobile writer Ralph Stein was the next recorded owner. Stein sold it to Bill Schmidlapp, who entered it in the 1940 ARCA Grand Prix at Montauk, New York. Driver Louis McMillen bought the car in the late 1940, gave its original motor to Jacques Shearly of Zumbach garage in New York, and sold the rest of the Bugatti to George Weaver of Boston.

Shearly sold the engine to noted collector Dave Uiheim of Milwaukee, who purchased the rest of the car from Weaver in 1948. Uihein sent the engine to restorer Axton 'Bunny' Phillips in Pasadena, who subsequently purchased the engine. The chassis was given to Uihein's mechanic Thomas Rosenberger as a Christmas gift in 1960. Rosenberger sold the chassis to Paul Moser of Santa Barbara in 1980. Moser sold the chassis to Klaus Werner in Germany, who also purchased the restored engine from Phillip who raced the restored Type 51 in many vintage events before selling it to Lee Kun-hee in the mid-1990s. Lee sold the Type 51 to David Wooley. Peter Mullin purchased it in 2010.


2018 Gooding & Company : Pebble Beach

Pre-Auction Estimates :
USD $3,200,000-USD $3,700,000 
Sale Price :
USD $3,740,000

2010 RM Auctions - Sports & Classics of Monterey

Pre-Auction Estimates :
USD $3,500,000-USD $4,500,000 
High Bid (Lot was not sold)
USD $2,750,000

2008 Gooding & Company

Lot was not sold

1931 Bugatti Type 51 Auction Sales

Recent Sales

(Data based on Model Year 1931 sales)
1931 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix
Chassis#: 51132
Sold for USD$3,740,000
  2018 Gooding & Company : Pebble Beach
1931 Bugatti Type 51 image  1931 Bugatti Type 51 image  
1931 BUGATTI TYPE 51 GRAND PRIX RACING TWO SEATER
Chassis#: 51121
Sold for USD$4,000,000
  2016 Bonhams : Quail Lodge
1931 Bugatti Type 51 image  1931 Bugatti Type 51 image  
1931 Bugatti Type 51
Chassis#: 4654
Sold for USD$907,500
  2008 Gooding & Company
1931 Bugatti Type 51 image  1931 Bugatti Type 51 image  

Vehicles That Failed To Sell

1931 Bugatti Type 51's that have appeared at auction but did not sell.
VehicleChassisEventHigh BidEst. LowEst. High
1931 Bugatti 51 Grand Prix511282019 Artcurial : Retroobile $4,000,000$4,500,000
1931 Bugatti Type 51 Pur Sang Mono Posto5370B02014 Russo & Steele Scottsdale   
1931 Bugatti Type 51 Works Grand Prix Racing Car511322010 RM Auctions Sports & Classics of Monterey$2,750,000$3,500,000$4,500,000
1931 Bugatti Type 51511322008 Gooding & Company   
1931 Bugatti Type 51 GP Race Car 2002 Monterey Sports and Classic Car Auction$220,000  

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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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