1930 Bugatti Type 51 - by Pur Sang
1930 Bugatti Type 51 Pur Sangs/n 533B0Dark Blue with Brown Interior
The Bugatti Type 51 was the evolution of the remarkable Type 35 Gran Prix race car that put Bugatti on the map as a premier automobile manufacturer. Nothing came close to the stunningly purposeful looks and stout mechanical innovations of these winning cars. Fully and passionately developed by a cadre of capable artisans, the entire Bugatti family of sculptors, artists, and brilliant fabricators built the finest cars of the period. It’s no wonder that both their race and road cars continue to be sought after by top collectors worldwide. As Bugatti amassed win after win in major races throughout the 1920s, their name grew in popularity as they entered a new decade. In 1930, the Type 51 emerged as the continuation of the Type 35 lineage which had garnered dozens of top victories in the Targa Florio, French Grand Prix, and others against some of the most formidable competitors.
Although development began on the Type 51 far earlier, the first examples appeared in 1931, launching success with a victory in the 1931 French Grand Prix. Varying only slightly on the exterior, the Type 51 had a larger grille, twin fuel fillers, and other minor changes when compared against the Type 35. Under the hood however, was a vastly different car. Outfitted with a newly developed twin-cam engine featuring a Roots supercharger and twin Zenith carburetors, the engine put out 160hp, significantly more than the Type 35. Just 40 examples of the Type 51 and Type 51A were built before being updated by the Type 53 and Type 54 models. And while these original examples command prices well into the millions, a welcome and superbly crafted recreation of premier provenance is a delightful motorsports opportunity for an enthusiast who enjoys the joys of driving pre-war racing cars.
Located in Argentina, Pur Sang is itself a car builders dream come true. Nestled on the eastern shore of the Parana River, their Villa Lola location features old world craftsmanship at every turn. Founded and run by enthusiasts committed to the craft of pre-war cars, every detail and feature of their cars are hand made using tools and materials from a forgotten time. And while the company also builds other cars and aircraft engines from this period, without question, Pur Sang must be regarded as the pre-eminent constructor of faithful Type 51 Bugatti race cars. Known for their near fanatical attention to authenticity and detail, Pur Sang produces their cars using original factory specifications, applied to design, construction, and material selections. Additionally, several mechanical aspects of the design have been improved based on modern automotive technology including a one-piece cast engine block with light alloy crankshaft, pressure lubrication, forged pistons, plain bearings, and modern oil seals to improve both durability and performance. A single Solex carburetor supplies the supercharger running at 1:1 crank speed with 4-5psi maximum boost. The frame is hand formed in the same manner as the original with hand formed body panels trimmed with detailed authentic touches in keeping with the original construction. Performance of the 2.3 liter supercharged twin-cam eight-cylinder engine delivers 160hp just like the original, which is quite substantial considering the light weight of these nimble cars. Construction of the Pur Sang Type 51 is both a marvel of passionate craftsmanship and superlative period-based design and engineering.
This particular Type 51 Pur Sang has benefited from enthusiastic care and regular servicing throughout ownership. In 2014 it completed the Lake Placid Adirondack Rally. Recent servicing and compression check indicate 135 psi. for all eight cylinders. The beautiful deep blue exterior finish is glossy throughout with minor areas of use that prove the mechanical prowess of this majestic machine. The overall presentation is both honest and cohesive, not overdone or polished beyond the purpose of these original cars. Throughout the bodywork, details continually delight including the perfectly perched headlights, mechanical fasteners, fuel fillers, competition hood straps and buckles, and the slightly golden hue of the Bugatti horseshoe radiator, perfectly toned to reflect a heat-toned patina. Throughout the car, evidence of material honesty is revealed in the finishes and casting integrity of these raw, honest parts. Of particular interest are the lightly polished cast aluminum wheels and raw brake drums. The forged axles, hand crank, and exposed cable brakes are just a few of the amazing authentic touches on this car. These artful details accenting against the gleaming riveted body are but a few of the contrasting aspects of machinery and artistry that encompass this car.
The simple beauty of the tapered body, blending effortlessly into the structure comes together with a union of woven metal frame lacing, offering elegant functionality as though stitched together like a finely sewn garment. Period correct tires are mounted on the car, accompanied by a single side mount spare. The exterior details throughout the car delight at every turn. Every element of construction from the correctly formed body louvers, competition windscreen, and leather side mount straps, have been thoughtfully engaged with attention to accuracy and craftsmanship in keeping with the Bugatti legacy.
And while the exterior alone is an enchantment to anyone with an interest in sculptural beauty, the natural finishes and mechanical features that make up the interior are wonderfully composed. The thoughtfully patinaed leather interior has just the right amount of visual “ease’ to the finishes, being the perfect complement to the mechanical fasteners, levers, and switches. Every interior detail from the engine turned dash and exposed magneto and wires to the instruments and lightly toned wooden steering wheel are all worthy individual works of art, cohesively unifying the interior in a splendid mechanical way. Even the structural floor, exposed gearbox casting, and exposed chain and sprocket armatures bring a whole new meaning to driving. In all the entire balance of finishes and authentic materiality combined with the total absence of any of the distractions of modern motoring make this car a truly captivating breath of fresh air.
Lifting the louvered hood reveals yet another layer of astonishing mechanical splendor. The engine compartment is finished with engine turning on the firewall and wonderfully exposed mechanical features. The passenger side of the engine features tuned exhaust for each cylinder while the driver’s side is adorned with an exposed steering box, beautifully fluted cast aluminum supercharger, and polished intake plenum. The engine is topped by the legendary twin cam head featuring polished covers with chiseled machined edges. Here again, details and natural finishes are properly rendered, presenting with authentic dignity and purpose celebrating the lineage of these exceptional cars. Underneath the car, finishes and castings continue to echo consistency and accuracy with cleanliness and raw materials befitting the high level of craft exhibited throughout the car.
Engaging the ignition and then pumping the fuel, the car erupts to great delight when started, letting loose a brilliant cam-filled symphony of engine sounds and exhaust note. This Pur Sang Type 51 comes with spare ignition components, a wheel spanner, and wooden tool case.
Beautifully constructed by the masters at Pur Sang, this Type 51 Bugatti recreation is ready to offer countless hours of motoring enjoyment either leisurely behind the wheel or from a commanding position in many vintage road events.
This particular Pur Sang built Bugatti Type 51 is titled in New Hampshire as a 1930 Bugatti.