Of all Bugatti models, one of the most elegant, imposing and luxurious was the Type 46, introduced in late 1929. Approximately 450 examples were produced until 1933.
The steel ladder-type chassis of the Type 46 featured a long 138-inch wheelbase and was powered by an equally impressive, long-stroke 5.4-liter inline eight engine featuring a single overhead camshaft. Its impressive specifications included three valves per cylinder and twin spark plugs per cylinder, which delivered a stout 140 horsepower.
The combination of Type 46 attributes, especially when its fine chassis and engine are clothed in sophisticated coachwork, makes it one of the most appreciated Bugattis. In fact, the Type 46 is perhaps best known as the “Petit Royale,” so-named for its striking resemblance to the Type 41 Royale.
As described in the definitive book, Bugatti Type 46: La Petite Royale by Bohuslav Klein, Roland Saunier and Kees Jansen, no fewer than about 40 custom coachbuilders applied their unique artistry to the Type 46 chassis during the model’s relatively brief production run. As noted in their authoritative reference, chassis 46208 was originally mated to — and still retains — engine number 77. It is believed that the original coachwork on 46208 was the four-door style known as conduite intérieure.
The present owner opted to have the drab sedan coachwork replaced with a faithful recreation of the “Superprofile” coupe penned by Jean Bugatti, which some argue is the finest of all of his designs.
The coachwork was produced by Ken Haywood of New South Wales, Australia, who has been responsible for many award-winning cars. This photo-documented restoration and coachbuilding effort is regarded as one of his finest results.
Only a very small number of the profile series of cars are known to exist. The beautifully appointed interior is brown ostrich leather complemented by a flawlessly finished wood dash and steering wheel rim.
The balance and presentation of the interior is highlighted by the front seats, which look more like lounge chairs belonging on a sunny patio than automobile seats. The entire finish of this car is consistent with the body and concours-quality paint, which is matched by the finish of the chassis and suspension components.
The lithe Superprofile body is augmented by a restrained amount of chrome that adorns the handles and latches, horseshoe radiator surround, Scintilla headlights and matching fender lights. The entire assembly rides on Royale-style wheels shod with period-correct Goodrich Silvertown tires. Chassis 46208 was shown and won honors at the 2011 Sydney Concours and will garner high praise and attention wherever it is shown around the world. It is a remarkable feat of coachbuilding prowess as well as legendary Bugatti engineering.