The Ex – Count Czaykowski, René Dreyfus, Aubrey Esson-Scott
1931 Bugatti Type 51
To the Bugatti aficionado the Type 51 has to be the ultimate Grand Prix Bugatti. It was was the final development of arguably the most successful Grand Prix car of all time, the Type 35. The straight 8 2.3-litre, twin-cam, supercharged engine resembles a piece of art as much as a racing engine. With that distinctive sound that you only get from an eight-cylinder Bugatti, their raw speed and legendary road holding, it is not difficult to see why they captivate peoples passion and hold their position at the pinnacle of motor racing history.
Launched at the Paris Salon in 1930 the Type 51 was the direct replacement for the Type 35B, the main improvement being the engine. The never ending quest for speed is at the heart of motor racing and the time had come to look beyond the single camshaft configuration of the Type 35B. The inspiration came not from Bugatti’s European competitors but from the powerful American Millers.
An engine from one of these cars was acquired and put on test at the Bugatti factory and it was not long before the new twin cam engine was born. The Type 51’s crankcase, roller bearing crank, connecting rods and pistons were unchanged from the Type 35B. The significant difference was in the block. The Type 51 has one piece block with an integral head and two individual valve ports per cylinder, twin overhead camshafts and a modified inlet manifold creating a significant improvement in horsepower over its predecessor.
The Type 51 was a success straight from the start winning on its fist ever outing and going on to take numerous illustrious victories including winning the Monaco Grand Prix in 1931 and 1933. Raced by some of the greatest names in pre-war racing like Achille Varzi, René Dreyfus and Louis Chiron, the Type 51 was the pinnacle of the Bugatti’s racing legacy.
This Car – 51126
Count Stanislaus Czaykowski was a Polish aristocrat born in the Hague and based in Paris. An accomplished gentleman racer, with an evident passion for Ettore Bugatti’s fabulous cars he raced and owned a number of Bugatti from 1929 until his untimely death in 1933.
Buying his first Bugatti a Type 37A in 1929, he competed in the popular Voiturette class before buying the Type 35C chassis 4957 in August 1930 from the famous Nice based Bugatti concessionaire Ernest Fredrich. Having family still down in the south of France Czaykowski clearly had a strong relationship with Fredrich and the factory as in 1931 works mechanic, Jean Georgenthum was recruited, with the blessing of the Patron, to become the Count’s team’s number one mechanic.
Dissatisfied finishing a “lowly” 9th at the April 19, 1931 Monaco Grand Prix in his Type 35B Bugatti and impressed by the faster factory Type 51s, Count Czaykowski promptly ordered one through Ernest Friderich, taking delivery April 27, 1931. This was the first delivery of a Type 51 to a private driver on the Continent. Only Lord Howe in the UK received an earlier one. Czaykowski went on to race 51126 with immediate success as highlighted on the next page. Winning the Casablancan Grand Prix in May, he went to take the podium three time leaving famous Bugati driver René Dreyfus to drive 51126 to victory in the Grand Prix de Brignoles on the 17th of September.
1931 Race record – Count Stanislaus Czaykowski (except where noted)
17 May, 1931 1st place Grand Prix de Casablanca, car no. 22
7 June, 1931 Crashed Grand Prix de Geneve, car no. 39*
5 July, 1931 3rd place Grand Prix de la Marne, Reims, car no. 11
26 July, 1931 2nd place Grand Prix de Dieppe, car no. 36
2 August, 1931 Retired Circuit du Dauphine (Grenoble), car no. 8
16 August, 1931 2nd place Grand Prix du Comminges (St. Gaudins), car no. 8
17 September, 1931 1st Place Grand Prix de Brignoles (Driver is Dreyfus), car no. 56
(Note: Dreyfus was one of the most famous and highly regarded Bugatti drivers during this period. In 1938, he was named Champion of France.)
Success continued on into 1932 with the Count regularly entering two cars per meeting, the 51 in the unlimited class and the Type 35C in the 2-litre class. He also drove 51126 in the jewel of the racing crown, the Monaco Grand Prix.
At the Grand Prix de Comminges on the 14th of August 1932, Czaykowski was left with the dilemma of which car to drive as both the unlimited and the 2-litre class were run together. He opted for the 2-litre class which he duly won. However according to photographs and as described in the detailed article about this car in Bugantics by Terry Cardy, Pierre-Yves Laugier, Sandy Leith and Charles Howard, it shows that he was not driving the 35C but 51126 in 2-litre configuration. As they go on to mention this also ties in with the Motor Sport report of the race which says he was driving a “special double camshaft Bugatti carefully prepared for the race by veteran driver Friderich”.
It is not known whether Czaykowski used the bottom end of the engine from the Type 35C or had a spare 2-litre crank assembly to make the conversion. What is clear from period photos and film footage is that it was 51126 he drove in 2 litre configuration for the BRDC 500-mile Race at Brooklands just over a month later.
1932 Race Record – Count Czaykowski
3 April, 1932 5th place Grand Prix de Tunisie (Carthage-Tunis), car no. 12
17 April, 1932 Retired Grand Prix de Monaco, car no. 18
16 May, 1932 3rd place Grand Prix de Nimes, car no. 18
22 May, 1932 3rd place Grand Prix de Casablanca, car no. (unrecorded)
25 June, 1932 3rd place Grand Prix de la Lorraine, car no. 8
24 July, 1932 4th place Grand Prix de Dieppe, car no. 4
31 July, 1932 2nd place (2nd heat)Circuit de Vitesse de Nice. (Car no. unrecorded)
14 August, 1932 1st place (T51C) Grand Prix de Comminges (St. Gaudens), car no. 60
24 September, 1932 Retired BRDC 500-mile Race; Brooklands. car no. 32
For the start of the 1933 season it appears that 51126 was running again in its original 2.3-litre configuration. 1933 also saw a new car for Czaykowski the fearsome Type 54. This and Le Mans, in the Type 35, seems to have become the early focus returning to Grand Prix racing in July in 51126, now back in its 2-litre configuration once again.
19 February, 1933 Retired Grand Prix de Pau, car no. 2
29 March, 1933 Retired Grand Prix de Tunis, car no. 16
15 July, 1933 3rd place Grand Prix de Dieppe, car no. 56
13 August, 1933 5th place Grand Prix de La Baule, car no. 12
27 August, 1933 Retired Grand Prix d’Albi, car no. 2
Very sadly on 10th September 1933, Czaykowski was killed in his Type 54 Bugatti at Monza.
After his death 51126 returned to the Bugatti factory to be sold on behalf of his widow. This is how it passed into the ownership of well known British enthusiast and Brooklands racer Aubrey Esson-Scott. Starting in a Brescia Bugatti before progressing to a Type 35 (a car we have recently sold). Having sold the Type 35 he contacted the Bugatti factory looking for a competitive car for the 2-litre class at the JCC International Trophy at Brooklands on the 28th of April 1934. The car can be seen above outside the factory awaiting his collection painted in black while still retaining the pinstripes down the side that Czaykowski painted during his latter year with the car. It also has two spare wheels for the drive home. According to the current owner it was sold with the bonnet from Czaykowski’s Type 35C as well as the back axle fitted both of these features have been retained to this day.
Making the race, he went on to win the team prize along with Earl Howe and Tim Rose-Richards also in their Bugattis. Aubrey continued to campaign 51126 sometimes with, and sometimes without, the supercharger through to 1937. In 1936 unable to compete with the 2-litre ERAs he converted the engine to 1.5-litre. For the 1937 season he fitted a single seater body to the car, clearly retaining the original GP body and bulkhead as in November 1937 it was sold to Harry Soutar apparently back in its 2-seat Grand Prix configuration,
1934 Race record – Aubrey Esson-Scott
Team prize and 12th overall, Brooklands JCC International Trophy
Crashed, Bugatti Owners Club Chalfont St. Giles Speed Hill Climb
Crashed, Speed Hill Climb, Poitiers, France
1st place, Brooklands August Bank Holiday 3rd Esher Mountain Handicap
Unplaced, Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb
2nd place, (2 litre class) Lewes Speed Trial, August meet
3rd place, (1500-6000cc class) Lewes Speed Trial, Sept 8
Unplaced, Bugatti Owners Club Northwood Hills Speed Event
Unplaced, Brooklands Easter Meeting , Junior Short Handicap
Unplaced, Brooklands Whitsuntide Meeting, Gold Star Handicap
3rd place, Brooklands Oct. BARC Meeting Long Handicap (also BARC 120 mph badge for lap of 123.28 mph)
2nd place, Shelsley Walsh (2 litre class)
Fastest Time of the Day, Bugatti Owners Club Chalfont St. Giles Speed Trial
Unplaced, Joel Park Speed Trial, Northwood
2nd place, Brooklands August BARC Meeting, Short Handicap
Crashed, Crystal Palace Opening Meeting, April 24
Race Record – Harry Soutar (1937 continued)
Result unknown, Donington Park Race Meeting
Unknown, Crystal Palace Imperial Trophy
Unknown, Weatherby Speed Trials
Fastest Time of Day, Kinneil Hill Climb, Scotland, May 14
Fastest Time of Day, Bo’ness Hill Climb, Scotland, August 20
Unknown, Bugatti Owners Club Prescott Hill Climb
Fastest Time of Day, Kinneil Hill Climb, Scotland
In August, 1946, Pat Prosser acquired the car, running in club events. From mid 1950 – February 1951 the next owner Roy Beebee did likewise. From 1951 until 1955 there is no competition record although from February 1951 – late 1952 it was owned by Ted Lloyd and from late 1952 – February 1954 by Jim Berry. It appears that in Ted Lloyd’s ownership the bottom end of the engine was swapped with that of 131T from the Type 35 TC – 4849 which he also owned at that time.
In February 1954 51126 was purchased D.F. Mallalieu who is recorded racing the car on numerous occasions throughout his ownership, both in the UK and subsequently in America when he moved there in late 1958 taking 51126 with him.
Race Record – D.F. Mallalieu
In addition to the record below, Mallalieu competed in ten hill climbs at the Bugatti Owners Club Prescott Hill Short course between July 24, 1955 and Sept, 14, 1958. In the August 24, 1958 meet he posted 3rd FTD.
August 6, 1st place; retired 6th place; 9th place Silverstone Race Meeting VSCC (three races)
June 23, 1st place; 5th place Oulton Park Race Meeting VSCC (two races)
July 28, 2nd place; 8th place Silverstone Race Meeting VSCC (two races)
April 6, 2nd place; retired 4th place; 7th place Silverstone Race Meeting VSCC (three races)
June 15, 1st place; 6th place Silverstone Race Meeting VSCC (two races)
April 12, 6th place; 8th place Silverstone Race Meeting VSCC (two races)
July 26, 5th place; 7th place Silverstone Race Meeting VSCC (two races)
Mallalieu moved to the USA in late 1958 with 51126.
July 7, DNF (engine) VSCCA First Annual Race Meet, Thompson Raceway
November 1960, 51126 was bought by current owner while in his senior year at Yale.
The current owner has been the proud owner and custodian of 51126 for the last 60 years. Having raced it in the early 1960s and as seen below, 51126 was retired from racing in 1965.
August 19, 3rd place VSCCA Thompson Raceway
July 21, 5th place VSCCA Fourth Annual Race Meet, Thompson Raceway
May 25, 1st place Pre-main event Vintage race, Bridgehampton Race Course SCCA Nationals
(uncertain date) 3rd place, Scratch race; dnf (steering) Handicap race VSCCA Lime Rock Park
51126 was shipped to the UK to renown marque specialists Crosthwaite and Gardiner in the 1980’s where it remained until 2006 when the complete and sympathetic restoration back to its exact 1932 Brooklands BRDC 500-mile Race specification was undertaken (bar the addition of an original Bugatti starter motor). The owner recalls that when 51126 first arrived at Crosthwaite and Gardiner Aubrey Esson-Scott got into his E Type with his chauffeur and went to Buxted to see his old car, spending time with John Gardiner pointing out all of his details on the car.
In 2009 it was agreed with the owner of Ted Lloyd’s old Type 35TC 4849 to reverse the swap done all those years ago. Thus returning the original upper and lower crank case, numbered 49C on both and 4957 51126 7 on the lower crankcase leg , back to 51126 and returning the crank case 131T and upper crankcase 3S back to 4849.
With regard to the bodywork, the tail and bonnet have remained with the car since its ownership by Czaykowski. During the restoration the original uniquely modified scuttle was purchased from Terry Cardy and was more recently refitted to the car.
The stunning restoration was completed in 2014 and is a credit to all involved. Once finished 51126 returned to competition in the capable hands of Simon Diffey. From 2014 to 2017 51126 was raced at Goodwood every year as well as taking an impressive 4th and 3rd place in the prestigious Williams Trophy, run by Crosthwaite and Gardiner on every occasion. In 2018 well known Bugatti racer and restorer Charles Knill-Jones drove 51126 to 1st place in the 10th Bugatti Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in the USA.
May 25, FTD, GP petrol class; 1st place, Handicap BOC Prescott Hillclimb “La Vie en Bleu”
June 7, 4th place & 1st in petrol class VSCC Cadwell Park Race Meeting Williams Trophy
Sept. 13, 13th place Goodwood Revival, Goodwood Trophy race
March 22, Retired (ignition) 73rd Members Meet. Earl Howe Trophy race, Goodwood
Sept. 12, 16th place Goodwood Revival, Goodwood Trophy race
Sept. 27, 3rd place VSCC Snetterton, Williams Trophy race
Sept. 27, Retired (fuel) Premier Cru race
May 14-15, Fast demonstration runs (“Race Parade”) 10th G.P. de Monaco Historique
Sept. 10, Q 18th; R 16th in heavy rain Goodwood Trophy race, Goodwood Revival
March 18-19, 9th, 75th Members Meeting, Goodwood, Varzi Trophy
Sept. 8-10, 12th, Goodwood Revival, Richmond Trophy
2018 – Charles Knill-Jones, driver
Sept 1-3, 1st overall, 10th Bugatti Grand Prix, Lime Rock Park
51126 has been maintained by Crosthwaite & Gardiner since their 2014 restoration.
Since then, 51126 has been shown at the 2017 Villa d’Este making it the first Grand Prix Bugatti to be invited to do so. At the 2020 Amelia Island concours it was awarded Best in Class of the Prewar Racing Car Class. 51126 also took Best in Show at the 2019 Camden Foreign Car Show.
51126 is accompanied by a 2017 FIVA logbook and 2019 FIA HTPs.
The chance to own a Grand Prix Bugatti this complete and original does not come about very often, let alone a Type 51 with such a well known and prominent history as 51126. As such this represents a truly exciting opportunity to become the first new owner in 60 years of quite literally one of the finest examples of Bugattis legendary Type 51 you will ever have the opportunity to own.