Bugatti Type 51 raced by Earl Howe to auction at Bonhams

Le Mans Lover

Le Mans Lover

2016-07-14 10:04:03

A historic Bugatti owned by the celebrated racing driver Francis Curzon, 5th Earl Howe, will cross the block at Bonhams next month.

The 1931 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix is amongst the headline lots in the company's Quail Lodge sale, one of the highlights of the California motoring season.

The aristocratic Earl Howe, came to racing relatively late in life, having served in the Royal Navy and then as a Conservative politician. But in 1928, at the age of 44, he climbed behind the wheel of a Bugatti Type 43 to compete in the Irish TT and discovered a new passion.

Over the next nine years he became one of the most renowned British racing drivers, competing around Europe in some of motor racing's most famous events.

He was a six-time entrant into the 24 Hours of Le Mans, winning the race in 1931 alongside Henry Birkin in his own Alfa Romeo 8C, and also drove to victory in both the 1933 Donington Park Trophy race and the 1938 Grosvenor Grand Prix at Cape Town in South Africa.

The 1931 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix offered at Bonhams was one of just 40 examples ever built, making it a rare automobile in its own right. But with Earl Howe at the wheel, it racked up a race history which includes the Monaco Grand Prix, Brooklands, Donington, Montlhéry and Monza.

Having been injured during a race at Brooklands in 1937, Earl Howe retired from competitive racing and returned to the Navy at the outbreak of WWII. However, his passion for motorsports remained as strong as ever.

He served as Presidency of the BRDC, Vice-President of the FIA's Commission Sportive Internationale, became Patron of the 500 Club and was instrumental in organizing the first British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1948.

His historic Bugatti Type 51 now heads to auction in California, having changed hands just one in the past six decades, ready to be campaigned in some of the world's most prestigious vintage racing events.

The Bonhams Quail Lodge auction takes place at the Quail Lodge and Golf Club in Carmel, California on August 19.

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