Introduced at the 1929 London and Paris Motor Shows, Ettore Bugatti‘s favourite model was the result of his decision to move his passenger car range progressively up market.
The Type 46, referred to as the 5-litre, is often considered to be a scaled down version of the Type 41 Royale. The Royale aside, the new single overhead cam straight-eight 5,359cc nine-bearing twin-plug dry sumped Bugatti Type 46 was thought to be the most luxurious Bugatti of its day, the chassis price of £975 coming in at £425 more than the previous Type 44 of 3-litre capacity. The only Bugatti model to share the same massive stroke as the mighty 12,763cc Royale at 130mm, the new 140bhp Type 46 has impressive torque characteristics, top gear able to pull from 10 to 96mph on a 3.9:1 axle. Going some way towards balanced weight distribution, the gearbox is incorporated in the rear axle and actuated by a centrally located ball change, perpetuating Type 28 and Royale practice. A new and longer chassis of 11ft 4ins or 3.5 metres was introduced, giving coachbuilders considerable scope, the factory offering its own range of open and closed bodywork, many customers preferring to order their own from a multitude of coachbuilders available. A mere 400 or so models were built, Bugatti displaying a Type 46 at the London Motor Show of 1933, and listing the car for 1934.