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  Bugatti Type 50S Le Mans

  Article Image gallery (9) 50177 Specifications  
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Country of origin:France
Produced in:1931
Numbers built:3
Designed by:Jean Bugatti
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:July 30, 2009
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAfter the unmarketable Bugatti Type 41 'Royale', Bugatti made a successful comeback on the luxury market with the Type 46, first launched in 1929. The Type 46 design was quite similar to the 'Royale', but scaled down quite a bit to make it affordable to more than just the insanely rich. For example: although half the size of the 'Royale's', the Type 46 eight cylinder engine had the same stroke as its predecessor.

Ettore Bugatti had not completely given up on selling very expensive cars yet, which resulted in the Type 50 that debuted in 1931. This new Bugatti was directly derived from the Type 46 and shared many similarities. The reason for a 50% increase in retail price from the Type 46 could be found under the bonnet. The trademark single overhead camshaft, 24 valve eight cylinder engine, was replaced with a dual overhead camshaft engine.

The Type 50 was the first road-going Bugatti to be powered by the DOHC engine, with the honour of the very first ever going to the 1930 Type 51 Grand Prix racer. The engine was based on the Type 46 unit, but slightly decreased in size with a different bore and stroke. The design of the cylinder-head was directly inspired by the Miller engines Ettore Bugatti had acquired to study at the end of the 1920s. With 225 bhp available, the Type 50 engine was the most powerful production engine Ettore ever designed.

The chassis design was along the lines of the traditional Bugatti models. The steel ladder frame chassis was available with two wheelbases, the short 3.1 metre version and the longer 3.5 metre version. The long wheelbase version was dubbed Type 50T for 'Touring' and was fitted with a 200 bhp version of the DOHC engine. It was suspended all round by live axles and the drum brakes were still operated by cables. A three speed gearbox was bolted onto the transaxle. The aluminium disc-wheels fitted are one of the most characteristic Bugatti features of the day.

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  Article Image gallery (9) 50177 Specifications