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Type 46 Freestone & Webb Sports Saloon
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Country of origin:France
Produced in:1931
Numbers built:400 (All Type 46)
Designed by:Freestone & Webb
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:January 03, 2010
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWhen Ettore Bugatti launched the Type 41 Royale early in 1929, he fulfilled his long held dream of building the ultimate luxury car. Displacing well over 12 litre, the Royale's engine was more than four times the size of the next biggest engine in the Bugatti range. To fill that sizeable void, a second luxury Bugatti was introduced shortly after. Dubbed the Type 46, it was in many ways a scaled down version of the massive and ultimately unmarketable Royale.

Like the Royale, the Type 46 used the latest version of the familiar straight eight Bugatti engine. Used so successfully in the Type 35 racing cars, it featured a single overhead camshaft, actuating three valves per cylinder (2 inlet and 1 exhaust). By casting the head and block in one piece, the straight eight engine had a very clean look. For the Type 41 and 46 engines, the casting was extended down to the bearing supports. This made the engine very rigid and resulted in exceptionally smooth running. Displacing just over 5.3 litre, the Type 46 'eight' produced a relatively modest 140 bhp. Thanks to a long stroke, it did generate more than enough torque at very low engine speeds.

The Type 46 chassis was also very typical Bugatti. The steel ladder frame was suspended by rigid axles on both ends with semi-elliptic leaf springs at the front and reversed quarter-elliptic leaf springs at the back. Bugatti remained loyal to the cable-operated drum brakes even though most rivals had switched to hydraulic systems. The front brakes featured an ingenious system to prevent self-servo action caused by axle twist. As on the Type 41, the three-speed gearbox was mounted in unit with the differential. The exact reason for this unconventional and, combined with a live axle, illogical location is not known. Perhaps Ettore Bugatti simply wanted to be different.

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  Article Image gallery (4) 46533 Specifications