An iconic Bugatti classic that has had only two owners since the 1950s will go under the hammer in the US later this month. The Bugatti Type 51 chassis number 51121 has an impeccable record, having been driven in the Monaco Grand Prix on four occasions.
Purchased new by Francis Curzon, the 5th Earl Howe, the car will be on the block at Bonham’s Quail Lodge auction in Monterey. Howe was the first president of the British Racing Driver’s Club, a group still in existence and the owners of the Silverstone circuit, home of the British Grand Prix.
Number 51121 was driven hard across Europe at Brooklands, Donington, Nürburgring, Montlhéry, Monza and Reims, and at hill climbs including the Klausenrennen and Shelsley Walsh, where it set fastest time of the day in 1932. Howe entered the car four times in the Monaco Grand Prix, placing fourth in 1932, and running to the late stages in the 1933 event.
At the Monaco Grand Prix, W.F. Bradley of The Autocar wrote that the new Bugatti was “… one of the most beautiful and carefully-prepared racing cars it has been my privilege to examine in a very long experience”. He described how the engine developed approximately 20 percent more power than the Type 35 and “is marvellously rapid in acceleration”.