1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587

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Lot 118
1933 Bugatti Type 46S Two-Door Coupé
Coachwork by by James Young Registration no. AGO 37 Chassis no. 46587

£ 350,000 - 500,000
US$ 470,000 - 670,000
1933 Bugatti Type 46S Two-Door Coupé
Coachwork by by James Young

Registration no. AGO 37
Chassis no. 46587
• The first Bugatti Type 46S imported into the UK
• One of only 18 supercharged models made
• Known ownership history from new
• Spare engine included in sale
• Exceptional history file

Footnotes

  • "(The Bugatti Type 46) ...combines the luxury of a large limousine, the perfect flexibility and top gear performance of a thoroughbred low carriage with the perfect roadholding, the speed and acceleration of the best type of sports model." – The Motor, 1930.

    By the early 1930s, Ettore Bugatti had established an unrivalled reputation for building cars with outstanding performance on road or track. Indeed, the world's greatest racing drivers enjoyed countless successes aboard the Molsheim factory's products and often chose them for their everyday transport. Although Bugatti is best remembered for its racing models, most of the 6,000-or-so cars produced at the Molsheim factory were touring cars of sporting character.

    Produced from 1929 to 1932, the Type 46 exemplified Bugatti's policy of building fast and exciting touring cars possessing excellent handling and brakes. The Type 46 was powered by a 5.4-litre, single-overhead-camshaft, straight-eight engine - effectively a short-stroke version of that found in the stately Type 41 Royale - while the axles, brakes, cast-alloy wheels and rear-mounted transmission were other Royale carry-overs. Because of its lengthy run of success, Ettore Bugatti had remained stubbornly committed to his single-cam engine as found in the Type 46, only adopting the more advanced double-overhead-camshaft method of valve actuation, after much prompting by his eldest son Jean, on the Type 50 of 1930. But of all the many and varied car designs that he produced, it is the elegant and handsomely proportioned Type 46 that the legendary artist/engineer is said to have favoured most. Unlike the Royale, only six of which found customers, the Type 46 proved far more saleable, a total of 444 (plus 18 of the supercharged Type 46S) leaving the Molsheim factory by the time production ceased. The Roots-type blower provided the Type 46S with markedly superior acceleration and increased the car's top speed by around 5-10mph depending on the type of coachwork fitted, with some closed cars capable of reaching 100mph.

    The first Bugatti Type 46S imported into the UK, '46587' had been ordered in December 1932 by the British Bugatti agent, Colonel Sorel, and was delivered as a rolling chassis fitted with engine number '16S' on 20th January 1933. The Bugatti was bodied by coachbuilders James Young of Bromley, registered as 'AGO 37', and first owned by Percy Fawcett. Following Fawcett's death, in 1942 his daughter Enid sold the Type 46S to Colonel G M Giles, founder of the Bugatti Owners' Club in Britain (it was his last Bugatti). Colonel Giles sold the car to Bugatti collector Peter Hampton in February 1946, by which time it had covered some 38,000 miles. First stamped 'Ettore Bugatti Automobiles' on 31st March 1933, and recording the aforementioned changes of ownership, the original old-style buff logbook is in the history file, the latter being one of the biggest and most comprehensive Bonhams has ever seen.

    A typewritten sheet on file states that that 'AGO 37' passed to Robert Pattenden on 9th January 1953. It then became the property of The Half Way Garage in December 1953 before passing to dealers Metcalfe & Mundy Ltd in August 1956. According to this typewritten sheet, and contrary to the book Bugatti Type 46, La Petit Royale by Klein, Saunier et al, the car became the property of Miriam Louise Burnett on 23rd October 1956, with a change of address noted in August 1957.

    In actual fact, the car had been purchased by Miriam's husband, Charles Burnett II, lately domiciled in London, whose recollections of how he came to acquire the Bugatti were reproduced as part of an article by Allan McNab published in Bugantics (spring 2020 edition, copy on file). Burnett's Canadian wife, Miriam, was the daughter of W Garfield Weston, boss of the Weston group of companies, whose British business interests included Allied British Foods, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, and Heal's.

    Having just missed the opportunity to buy the Type 46S from Metcalfe & Mundy, Charles had the good fortune to spot the car six months later driving down London's Oxford Street. Flagging it down, he spoke to the owner, Trevor Thornlow, a musical director at the BBC, who was willing to sell it. "The car lived up to every expectation and upon further reading Bugatti literature, I find that the Type 46 is indeed the choice family car that Bugatti manufactured," declared its delighted new owner.

    The car was next registered to one of the family firms - Weston Biscuit Co Ltd of Slough - in 1958 before being registered to Charles Burnett II on 3rd January 1963. '46587' took part in the International Bugatti Touring Rallye in May 1963 (event programme and correspondence on file). A letter on file from the American Bugatti Owners' Club, dated December 1963, confirms that Burnett moved to Ontario, Canada and left the 46S in England. There is correspondence on file relating to servicing work carried out in the UK. The file also contains correspondence between Charles Burnett II and the VSCC during the 1960s, plus various bills and import paperwork for parts sourced from Garage Della Torre, Zurich.

    Burnett was temporarily living in Bermuda when he received a letter from the famous American Bugatti aficionado Gene Cesari, offering him a brand new Type 46S engine. Knowing it was probably the only specimen like it in the world, Burnett purchased it. Hidden in the Bugatti factory during the war, the engine arrived packed in thick grease and was later restored. This engine is included in the sale.

    Also contrary to the aforementioned Bugatti Type 46 book, correspondence on file from Burton's Gold Metal Biscuits Ltd, Weston, Slough dated March 1972 shows that the car was shipped on the Helene Roth of Gulf Containers Lines from Felixstowe to Miami, Florida to join Mr Burnett in Fort Lauderdale. A copy collection note is on file together with a State of Florida title in the name of Charles Burnett dated 27th April 1972. Also dating from the Bugatti's time in the USA is an invoice dated October 1989 from Abacus of Tidewater, Virginia for service work.

    The Bugatti next passed to Charles Burnett II's son, Charles Burnett III. British-born but mainly resident in Houston, Texas, Charles Burnett III was an avid collector of all kinds of transport: aircraft, tanks, speedboats and, of course, fast cars. In 2009 he set a new world speed record of 139.8mph for a steam-powered car (the British built and designed 'Inspiration'), breaking the existing record set by a Stanley Steamer in 1906! Tragically, he died in a helicopter crash in January 2018 aged 61.

    It is not known exactly when Charles Burnett III became owner, though there is a letter on file to DVLA, Swansea dated December 30th 1991 from A B Price Ltd asking the DVLA to reassign the registration 'AGO 37', so presumably the car was back in the UK by this time. There is further paperwork on file dating from the early 1990s, including correspondence with the Bugatti Owners' Club. Another document offers a breakdown of restoration and improvements made over the course of the next 20-or-so years: some £72,000 was spent with marque specialist Ivan Dutton over the period 2005-2008, while Don Law Racing carried out various works in 2013 and 2014 at a cost of £68,000 prior to the Bugatti being shipped to New Zealand (correspondence and reports available).

    While in Australia in 2017, '46578' had one of the 'suicide' doors fly open while travelling, causing some damage to the body. The Bugatti was repaired in New Zealand by David Nordell of Vintage & Veteran Restoration. Repairing the damage and removing elements weakened by dry rot saw much of the body frame renewed, while in addition the doors were re-skinned and the roof, headlining and carpets replaced. Following Charles Burnett III's untimely death, the Type 46 passed to the family trust, the current vendors, who oversaw the work's completion. There are related bills on file for the period 2017-2019 totalling some NZ$202,310 (approximately £105,000).

    The supercharged Type 46S is one of the rarest of Bugatti production cars with only 18 built. With most, if not all, in private collections or museums, seldom are they offered for public sale. All of which makes '46578', with its perfect provenance, a possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own and enjoy one of these fabulous motorcars.
Contacts
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
1933  Bugatti  Type 46S Two-Door Coupé  Chassis no. 46587
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