Villa Erba

25 May 2013

Lot 121

1930 Bugatti Type 46 Coupé Superprofilée in the style of Jean Bugatti

To be auctioned on Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sold for €672.000

  • Chassis no. 46208
  • Engine no. 77
History is important to us, and all lots offered are fully researched. All corresponding information and accessories, from certificates to tool kits, stays with the lots we sell. All of this is held at our library on site, under the Access the Knowledge banner, so please visit us there or contact us before the auction if you require further information.


140 hp, 5,359 cc SOHC inline eight-cylinder engine with three valves per cylinder, three-speed manual transmission, front semi-elliptic leaf spring suspension, rear inverted quarter-elliptic leaf spring suspension, and four-wheel cable-operated drum brakes. Wheelbase: 3,505 mm (138 in.)

  • “La Petite Royale”
  • Jean Bugatti’s most exotic coachwork design
  • Beautifully detailed interior in ostrich leather and walnut


Whatever its origins, Ettore Bugatti intended the Type 41 to be the ultimate, be-all and end-all statement in motoring. Accordingly, the vast “La Royale” was offered only to noteworthy heads of state, and at a price tag of $35,000, even they balked. For the mere wealthy mortals with a lust for life, Bugatti offered the Type 46, which offered Type 41-inspired lines, beautiful engineering, and typically idiosyncratic Bugatti construction. It is known affectionately to enthusiasts as “La Petite Royale”, or the Little Royale.

The Type 46 employed a steel ladder-type chassis stretching 138 inches (3,505 millimetres) from axle to axle, and it is powered by an equally impressive long-stroke 5.4-litre inline eight-cylinder engine that features a single overhead camshaft, three valves per cylinder, and two spark plugs per cylinder, delivering a stout 140 brake horsepower. The engine block casting was extended down to the main-bearing supports, providing rigid structure, exceptionally smooth operation, and amazing durability. The three-speed manual gearbox was mounted within a rear transaxle unit. Four-wheel, self-adjusting, cable-operated brakes with 16-inch drums provided stopping power behind wire-spoke wheels, replaced on later cars by stylish, vane-type alloy wheels inspired by those fitted to the “Royale”.

The Type 46’s lasting influence on Bugatti was as forerunner of the later grand touring models and as among the most popular new cars that the factory ever built. Its combination of the company’s racing-bred engineering with true comfort resulted in some 350 being built and sold between late 1929 and 1933. Typical of Bugatti, whilst custom coachbuilders the world over used the Type 46 as basis for their best work, the most flamboyant and dramatic designs came right out of Molsheim, flowing from the creative pen and mind of Ettore Bugatti’s son, Jean.

Among these was the so-called Coupe Superprofile, which some argue is the finest of all of his designs. Extraordinarily long, flowing open wings seemed to pour from one end of the car to the other, rolling over the front wheels and kicking up at the rear of the car. The windshield was swept back at an extreme angle and seemed to fade away into the roofline, which swept around to the rear in a teardrop arch that falls between the wings, echoed by the “sweep panel” that divided two-tone colour schemes in bright, exotic colours. Not since Rubens had curves been so celebrated.

The Type 46 offered here is a spectacular representation of the long-lost Coupe Superprofile, constructed by award-winning coachbuilder Ken Haywood, of New South Wales, Australia, on an original, numbers-matching combination of chassis number 46208 and engine number 77. This car was originally delivered by Paris Bugatti dealer Dominique Lamberjack, of 68 Rue Bayen, on 1 February 1930, with four-door Conduite Interieure saloon bodywork. It was registered in Agen, capital of the Lot-et-Garrone department, with plate number 3630 JV1, in 1932, passing in 1935 to a gentleman named Grenier, and in 1937 to a Rodriguez. At some time it was returned to Paris, wearing plate number 6324 RL4. Later, the car was purchased by Baron John Raben-Levetzau, owner of the automobile museum at Castle Aalholm in Nysted, Denmark.

The restoration and coachbuilding effort that resulted in the car’s present appearance is photo-documented, and its excellence is confirmed by the astoundingly high levels of fit and finish found throughout. All trim is beautifully crafted and detailed. In particular, the interior is spectacularly appointed in brown ostrich leather with a flawlessly finished wooden dashboard and steering wheel rim, appearing as an inviting mobile drawing room filled with rich scents and warmly glowing under the dual instrument lights. Under the hood, with the engine turning on both sides of the firewall, the cylinder head and other components display not only the cleanliness and quality of presentation, but they also serve as a reminder of the legendary machine fit of the engine components.

Chassis 46208 was displayed and won honours at the 2011 Sydney Concours, and in recent care in North America, it was also shown, to the delight of all present, at the 2012 Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan, one of the top concours events in the United States. The present owner has exercised the car and reports that it runs and drives exceptionally well. It continues to present as a Bugatti should, as an automotive Swiss watch filled with fascinating ornate details that entrance the eye as much as the performance stirs the heart.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

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Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

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With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

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Ontario, Canada

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Don Rose

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Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

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Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

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Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

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Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

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United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

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United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

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Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

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California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more