Built strictly for Grand Prix racing, the Type 51 was an evolution of the highly successful Type 35B. A major difference between the two cars is the twin-overhead block which was included on the Type 51. This head was remarkably similar to the Miller 91 design which Ettore had studied and applied to cars such as Type 50. With this cylinder head, Bugatti found an additional 20 horsepower. 187 horsepower (140 kW) was attained when running the same engine on alcohol.
It should come to some surprise then, that one of the forty Type 51s, chassis #51133, was made to combine the best attributes of luxury and sport. After a brief racing season, which saw this car race at the hands of Rene Dreyfus and Louis Chiron, it was sold to Andre Bith. He took his purchase to Louis Dubos in Paris to create a body which would end up being a miniature version of the Type 57SC Atlantic. Complete with tan pigskin upholstery and polished Sycamore wood trim, Dubos’ detail work was as exquisite as the best Bugatti’s.
At some point to Dubos body and chassis #51133 got separated. While the chassis was owned by the Nethercutt Collection, the original body was offered at auction in 2000. The Collection picked up the body and reunited the orphan components after nearly 50 years of separation. Mr. Bith, the original owner, helped Collection by offering documents and photos pertaining to #51133.
The restoration was completed just in time for the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours where the feature marque was Bugatti. Against very stiff competition, the Dubos Coupe took second in class to a Type 57SC Atlantic.