Watch the Extremely Rare 1931 Bugatti Type 51 Flex Its Supercharged Straight-8 at Monza

1931 Bugatti Type 51 7 photos
Photo: 19Bozzy92/YouTube
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Modern Bugattis may be about ludicrous output and luxury features, but things were a bit different in the past. Sure, Bugatti was building powerful and opulent rigs in the 1920s too, but the French company was more concerned about racing back then.
The first Bugatti hit the European race tracks as early as 1910, when the Type 13, the first-ever Bugatti that left Ettore's Molsheim factory, was converted to racing duty. In 1924, Bugatti introduced the Type 35, which would go on to become its most successful race car.

With more than 1,000 wins and more than 50 records set between 1925 to 1932 and five consecutive victories at Targa Florio, the Bugatti Type 35 is actually one of the most successful race cars in history.

And the fact that the Type 35 became obsolete in the early 1930s didn't stop Bugatti from winning races. While the Type 35's successor, the Type 51, couldn't compete with government-supported race cars from Mercedes-Benz, Auto Union, and Alfa Romeo, the Type 57 "Tank" won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1937 and 1938.

The Type 51 you see here was introduced in 1931 as an evolution of the successful yet dated Type 35. Visually similar to the Type 35, the Type 51 featured an evolution of the supercharged, 2.3-liter straight-eight engine found in the Type 35B. Now featuring a twin overhead cam, the mill was capable of 160 horsepower.

The Type 51 scored Bugatti's fourth consecutive win at the French Grand Prix in 1931, but it never became as successful as its predecessor. But it's an iconic race car that has seen plenty of action with the great Louis Chiron and Maurice Trintignant behind the wheel and a Bugatti that you won't see very often in the metal.

The French company built around 40 units (including the Type 51A), but many of them didn't survive to this day. This Type 51 is a whopping 92 years old as of 2022, so it's quite spectacular to see it run again at historical tracks and hillclimb events.

Check it out, flexing its straight-eight mill at the Monza circuit and the Swiss Bernina Hillclimb Pass in the video below.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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