Bugatti 55 Roadster

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55 Roadster





The Bugatti Type 55 was a road-going version of the Type 54 Grand Prix car. A roadster, it had a short 108.3 in (2750 mm) wheelbase and light 1800 lb (816 kg) weight.

Power came from the Type 51's 2.3 L (2262 cc/138 in³) straight-8 engine. This 2-valve DOHC unit produced 130 hp (96 kW) and could rev to 5000 rpm. A Roots-type supercharger was used.

The car's 4-speed manual transmission came from the Type 49 touring car. 38 examples were produced from 1932 through 1935 and they produced a racing version later on.

During this period, Ettore Bugatti’s son Jean, a talented designer and engineer in his own right, began to exert his influence. While his father was conservative, Jean Bugatti proposed many technical innovations, including the use of independent suspension. He was also a man with exquisite taste who was responsible for creating beautiful new designs. It was Jean who had the idea to create the Type 55 “Supersport,” a world-class sports car that would appeal to Bugatti’s most demanding clients. This model was a spiritual successor to the Type 43 Grand Sport, which combined the mechanical underpinnings of the Type 35 B with sporting coachwork, creating a Grand Prix car for the road.

At its foundation, the Type 55 has the same chassis as the 16-cylinder Type 45 and Type 47 Grand Prix cars, also used in the 4.9-liter Type 54. This was mated to the Type 51’s supercharged engine and the four-speed gearbox from the contemporary Type 49. Unveiled in Paris in October 1931, the Type 55 was an ultra-high-performance machine, with a top speed in excess of 110 mph.

In Bugatti tradition, the Type 55 was available to purchase as a chassis or it could be outfitted with one of three attractive factory bodies – a coupe, a cabriolet, and the splendid Roadster, designed by Jean Bugatti. Since its introduction, the Type 55 Jean Bugatti Roadster has been coveted by enthusiasts the world over, and the model’s elegance has been noted, with one knowledgeable Bugattiste calling it “a Type 51 Grand Prix wearing an evening gown.”

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