After years of refining preceding variations of the legendary straight eight, the twin-plug, three-valves-per-cylinder single overhead camshaft engine in the Type 49 Bugatti is the ultimate development of the single camshaft inline eight-cylinder engine.
Built between 1930 and 1934, only 470 examples of the Type 49 were produced, but they quickly earned a reputation as reliable touring models famed for their engine flexibility, supple ride, satisfying performance and rugged build quality.
These characteristics were confirmed in a November, 1932 issue of The Motor. When reporting on a road test of an open Type 49, the journalist was quoted as saying, “It is indeed a car with a dual personality – a comfortable carriage and a lively sports model.” The report went on, “… one has no hesitation about driving at the maximum whenever road conditions permit …” and noted, “The gear change is exceptionally rapid …” and “… on the road the car handles delightfully.” Today, this would mark a Type 49 as an excellent choice for the collector who wishes to enjoy the delights of thoroughbred Bugatti performance without the temperament and complexity for which some Bugatti models are known.
1931 Bugatti Type 49 Vanvooren Saloon 49294 – sold for €126,672 Research by marque historians indicate this car was delivered as a rolling chassis to Parisian coachbuilders Vanvooren in April 1931, and on 12 May it was fitted with Vanvooren’s handsome four-door saloon coachwork, design number 9487. The engine’s “L” prefix indicates a slightly longer wheelbase, and when the car was completed on 25 June, Bugatti was invoiced 19,000FF for the work, a remarkable sum of money in the early 1930s.
Celli commenced a spectacular restoration. The car was refinished in burgundy with cream side panels, the alloy wheels are lined in red, and the spare wheel is carried on the driver’s side front fender. The upholstery is in green corduroy, a separate black leather trunk is fitted to the rear, and 49294 has directional indicators. The car’s condition is described as pristine, and this extends to the engine compartment as well.
1933 Bugatti Type 49 Van Rijswijk Drophead Coupé 49570 – sold for €356,500 The last Type 49 constructed by the factory in 1933, ‘495780’ was sold new to a Mr Lagerwey by the Dutch Bugatti importer, van Ramshorst. The Dutch Bugatti Register states that when Lagerwey travelled with van Ramshorst to Molsheim to buy a Type 57 there were none available and so he bought this Type 49 instead.
After completion by van Rijswijk the car was presented at the RAI’s Amsterdam Motor Show in 1934 (stand number ‘100’). The Bugatti has remained in Holland all its life, its subsequent owners being listed in the aforementioned Register. The coachwork underwent modification after the war but was returned to its original specification during the car’s ‘bare-chassis’ restoration circa 2002-2007. Described as complete and sound, with all matching numbers, ‘49570’ has achieved a 98-point concours d’élégance score since completion and is offered with two albums of photographs depicting it before and after restoration together with others taken during the 1930s and ’40s.