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  Bugatti Type 50S Le Mans

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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 versionAlthough the Type 50 was intended solely for road use, Jean Bugatti convinced his father to prepare three examples for the 1931 24 Hours of Le Mans race. For the first time Bugatti had a car with a large enough engine to take on the Bentleys or 'British lorries' as Ettore referred to them. Painted in all-black to show Bugatti's discontent with the French government's refusal to sponsor the racing effort, the Type 50 racers were all withdrawn after a tire-failure on one of the team cars. One of those 24 Hour racers returned to Le Mans three more times, and even led the race for a while in the 1935 running.

The road-going Type 50s were delivered as a running chassis ready to be bodied by the coach builder of the customer's choice. Taking in account the high price of the chassis, it came as no surprise that only the finest of coach builders were commissioned to body the Type 50s. Most chassis' received coupe bodies. One of the most famous versions was the Jean Bugatti designed Profilee body style, which became inspiration for the later Ventoux body type found on the Type 57 chassis.

Production of the Type 50 lasted just three years in which 65 examples were constructed, including the three Le Mans racers. It was outsold by the Types 46 and 57 many times, which might explain why the Type 50 is one of the lesser known and written about Bugatti models. The chassis' pedigree alone should give it a more prominent position in the marque's history. Combining that with the lavish and beautiful bodies fitted, the Type 50 could be considered the finest car ever produced by Bugatti.

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  Article Image gallery (9) 50177 Specifications