Jul 24 2010

1931 Bugatti Type 51 George Vanderbilt Cup Racer To Be Auctioned at Monterey

A few days ago the car in our Mystery Photo Contest #4 was identified as "Halley's Comet", a Mercedes-Miller owned by McClure Halley. The car was entered in the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race but replaced by Halley with a Bugatti Type 51. Looking for information on McClure Halley, I surprisingly discovered that this Bugatti will be auctioned by RM Auctions on Saturday, August 14, 2010.


This is a description of the 1931 Bugatti Type 51 by RM Auctions:

Sports and racing cars are prominently featured at RM’s 2010 Monterey sale. Joining the diverse roster of previously announced Ferraris signed to the event is an authentic and original 1931 Bugatti Type 51, chassis number 51132 (Estimate available upon request). Recently discovered documentation has now confirmed that 51132 was raced extensively in period, including at Targa Florio in the early 30’s, closely followed by the ARCA USA Grand Prix in 1935 with McClure Halley behind the wheel. In addition, 51132 was also raced at the inaugural George Vanderbilt Cup in 1936, driven by Dave Evans. Ranked by noted Bugatti specialist, David Sewell, as among ‘the finest surviving examples of the highly desirable T 51 Grand Prix Bugattis’, 51132 is expected to garner significant interest from discerning collectors.

According to the auction spec sheet, RM Auctions expects the car to be sold from $3.5 million to $4.5 million.


In this photo, Halley's Bugatti was being prepared for the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race.


Halleys' Bugatti completed all 75 laps of the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race, finishing 14th of the 45 cars that raced.

Here are links to additional information on the Bugatti Type 51:

Bugatti Type 51 Specifications

Photos of the Bugatti Type 51 (#51132)

24 Photos of the Bugatti Type 51 from RM Auctions

Newsreel of the 1936 Vanderbilt Cup Race

September 1, 2010 Update: The Bugatti (lot #343) did not sell at the RM Auctions. The high bid was apparently $2.75 million.

Today, the Alco "Black Beast" will return to the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum for the Vanderbilt Auto Show, "Celebrating the American Automobile Through the Decades". Hope to see you in the museum courtyard.


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