At all times, an automobile supremacy is necessarily short lived. The technical progress of Alfa Romeo and Mercedes-Benz is forcing Bugatti to look for new solutions. It is too late. Despite some early successes, the new models Types 51, 53 and 54 introduced in 1931 and 1932 will not match the ambitions of the French brand.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the Miller 91 achieves great results in competition with its small supercharged engine reduced in volume to adapt to new rules, even at that time ! Bugatti indirectly obtains the Miller 91 patterns and creates its own Type 51 by plagiarizing the camshaft from its American competitor. The external features of the new car are almost unchanged from Type 35.
One of the first Bugatti Type 51 was sold in 1931 to Lord Howe, an outstanding personality of British motor racing who won in the same year the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a driving partnership with Henry Birkin on an Alfa Romeo 8C-2300.
Lord Howe intensely used his Bugatti Type 51, entering it four times at the Monaco Grand Prix. Tazio Nuvolari was once seen driving this car in the same time range, but only for practices. Lord Howe sold it in 1935. The later story is less glorious : the Bugatti overturned to kill its second owner in 1937.
Despite its rebuilding performed around its original chassis after the accident, Lord Howe's Bugatti remains one of the most desirable Type 51 in existence. It is for sale on August 19 by Bonhams at Quail Lodge, Carmel CA, lot 36.
Please watch the video shared by Bonhams.
SOLD for $ 4M including premium