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  Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix
 

  Article Image gallery (119) Chassis (6) 51128 Specifications  
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Country of origin:France
Produced from:1931 - 1935
Numbers built:40
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:December 08, 2014
Download: All images
Chassis: 51128
On June 1st, 1931, this Bugatti Type 51 was delivered new to racer Marcel Lehoux. He debuted the car a few days later in the Geneva Grand Prix. It was a stellar debut as Lehoux led from start to finish. The Frenchman continued to race the car with considerable success through to the end of 1932. Early the following year, it was sold on to Louis Trintignant, who raced it with some success as well until suffering a fatal accident in May of 1933. The car used that day was his earlier Type 35C but with the engine of the Type 51 fitted. The chassis was understood to be destroyed in the accident and it was most likely that the twin-cam Type 51 engine was fitted back into its original chassis. Some three months after the fateful crash, the Type 51 was sold on by Trintignant's widow. The next custodian was Jules Rolland, who was best known as a motorcycle racer. His career on two wheels was cut short by an accident in 1928 but he planned to make his competition return with the Bugatti. He indeed raced the car at local events in the Provence in 1934 and early 1935. The car sat in Rolland's garage until 1938 when it was acquired by Louis Trintignant's brother Maurice, who was an aspiring racer in his own right. He scored his first race victory in the car in June of 1938 at Chimay. The War halted racing but Trintignant returned behind the wheel of the Type 51 in 1945 and raced the car well into the 1947 season. By that time, it had been fitted with a 1.5-litre engine sourced from a sister Type 51A.

Following its long, contemporary racing career, chassis 51128 was retained by Trintignant for many years. He displayed the car in his living room until final selling it on in 1974. It was then acquired by collector Jacques Lefranc. He gave his mechanic the difficult task to turn the old and tired Type 51 into a runner once more. The original gearbox had been replaced by a Cotal preselector in period and in its place Trintignant had fitted a wooden replica. The engine was also missing components, many of which were subsequently sourced from England. Among them was, what most likely was the original crankshaft of the 2.3 Type 51 engine fitted to the car when it was new. The work was completed in remarkably short order and the mechanic drove the car once before it was put on display in Lefranc's Musée de Surry le Comtal. In 1992, the Type 51 was acquired at auction by fellow Frenchman Jean-Claude Miloé. He reunited Maurice Trintignant with the car exactly 60 years after his brother's fatal accident. While retaining its 1933 appearance, the car was regularly used by Miloé for over 25 years. He eventually consigned the Type 51 to serve as one of the headliners of the 2019 Artcurlal Retromobile sale.


Chassis details
Manufactured in 1931
Engine number 10
First owner Marcel Lehoux
Appearances
Most recent auction(s)

2019 Retromobile Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix
Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix
Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix
Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix
Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix
Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix
Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix

  Article Image gallery (119) Chassis (6) 51128 Specifications