Bugatti 46S Two-door Coupe by James Young

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46S Two-door Coupe by James Young





Produced from 1929 to 1932, the Type 46 exemplified Bugatti's policy of building fast and exciting touring cars possessing excellent handling. The Type 46 was powered by a 5.4-litre (5359 cc/327 in), single-overhead-camshaft, straight-eight engine - effectively a short-stroke version of that found in the stately Type 41 Royale - while the axles, brakes and rear-mounted transmission were other Royale carry-overs, giving the model the name 'La Petite Royale'. Because of its lengthy run of success, Ettore Bugatti had remained 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. Power was reported at 140hp (104 kW). The engine was under square like most Bugatti designs with an 81 mm bore and 130 mm stroke. The Type 46 was a large car, weighing 2500 lb (1134 kg) and riding on a 138 in (3505 mm) wheelbase. 400 examples were produced from the end of 1929 through 1936. The three speed gearbox was in unit with the live rear axle, resulting in high unsprang weight, and a relatively harsh ride. Despite this, the model was a favourite of Le Patron, and it remained in production longer than might have been expected. 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.

A civilized Grande routière to match those of rivals Delage and Delahaye, the Type 46 attracted coachwork of the finest quality executed in a wide variety of styles, the faux cabriolet body carried by this example being the work of Veth & Zoon (Veth & Son). Established in 1840 in Arnhem, Holland, Veth & Son started off constructing horse-drawn carriages before diversifying into powered transport towards the end of the 19th Century. The company grew quickly and in 1914 was appointed the official coachbuilder to the Dutch Royal Family. Before WW2, bodies were fitted to chassis of quality marques such as Bugatti, Hotchkiss, Talbot Lago, Bentley and Packard. After the war, Veth & Son escaped the fate of many of their contemporaries by branching out into the manufacture of truck and van bodies. The company still exists building commercial and public service vehicles but has not bodied a car for over 60 years.

A supercharged version, the Type 46S, was introduced in 1930. With just 160hp (119 kW), from its Rootes-type blower 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, it was not a great success. 18 supercharged cars were made in all.

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