Bookshelf: Great Cars: Bugatti Type 50

Another new addition to Porter Press’s Great Cars series is about to be published, looking at the Bugatti Type 50, the car whose introduction in 1930 heralded a new era as the marque’s first twin-cam engine. The Type 50’s supercharged 4.9-litre straight-eight was prodigiously powerful – and in the days when winning the Le Mans 24 Hours required brute force, the Type 50 led the race at Bugatti’s first attempt.

The car that led the 1931 race, chassis number 50177, is the focal point of this book. The authors also tell the story of the Type 50 in general, its predecessor the Type 46, the engineering genius of Ettore and Jean Bugatti, and the talented drivers who raced 50177. Driven by top racers Louis Chiron and Achille Varzi, this car had to be withdrawn from its leading position at Le Mans for safety reasons after the crash suffered tyre problems, a sister car crashing heavily at high speed, just one of the many fascinating tales within the 320 pages of this superbly illustrated book.

Sharing a wealth of fresh information, the 13th title in the Great Cars series is researched and written by two leading marque experts, one the Honorary Registrar of the Bugatti Owners’ Club, the other a regular judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Julius Kruta is a freelance automotive historian and adviser who began his career at Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S. in marketing, before serving from 2003 to 2018 as the brand’s Head of Tradition. He is the author of five books on the marque and has been a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in America and the most important concours events in Europe. Mark Morris works as an independent Bugatti researcher and consultant and is Honorary Registrar of the Bugatti Owners’ Club.  

The 400 pages cover the careers of Ettore and Jean Bugatti, the bloodline of large-capacity Bugatti engines, and the Type 46 from which the Type 50 was derived. It goes into an in-depth exploration of the Type 50’s design and development, the Miller-inspired twin-cam engine, and the car’s technical features and coachwork.

The 1931 Le Mans 24 Hours is explained, including the four tyre failures experienced by Type 50s, the last disastrous. There were three more Le Mans visits by Type 50s in 1933, 1934, and 1935, and the frustrations of unfulfilled promise, as well as looking at some of the famous drivers who raced T50s.

There is also a description of the later life of 50177 and its 23-years in the ownership of car collector and Bugatti historian Miles Coverdale. 

Published by Porter Press International, 1st February 2019, RRP: £60.00.
ISBN: 978-1-907085-48-2320 pages

Popular Articles