1948 CDL Chorlton Special

Lot Number: 634

1948 CDL Chorlton Special

Conceived as a Bugatti-based, Alta-engined, fifties Grand Prix car, this evocative single-seat racer has a fascinating history.


LIVE AUCTION: This lot was auctioned on Sunday 6th March, 2022 at 2.00pm GMT at RAF Museum London

  • Body Colour


  • Drive


  • Registration Number



Conceived as a Bugatti-based, Alta-engined, fifties Grand Prix car, this evocative single-seat racer has a fascinating history.


  • Built in Monoposto GP Style with Alta motivation. Well known documented history
  • Competed in many notable events such as the 1948 International British Empire Trophy Race and the Zandvoort Grand Prix of the same year
  • Recent appearances include the 2017 Goodwood Members Meeting, its second airing there after appearing some 67 years earlier at the very first Members Meeting in 1950
  • A recent class win in September 2021 at VSCC Loton Park shows the potential on offer
  • An enviable opportunity to experience those heady days of true wheel to wheel racing

In 1946 Michael Chorlton, a well known film editor and director of the  time, acquired the ex-Count Stansilaw Czaykowski Bugatti Type 51A from Jack Lemon Burton. Having been a member of The Brooklands Junior Car Club, his passion for motor racing was all-consuming with the desire to produce a successful racing marque at the forefront of his mind and so the Bugatti was steadily developed into the CDL ( Centaur Developments Limited ) Chorlton Special. Many aspects of the vehicle were reimagined with weight loss and aero dynamics a priority, the chassis was narrowed, the two seater body was replaced in an aluminium monoposto GP style and the suspension, alongside other mechanical aspects of the Special re-engineered. Such was the success of the build that the single seat Bugatti went on to compete at a number of International events including the 1948 International British Empire Trophy in the Isle of Man, the 1948 Zandvoort Grand Prix, Goodwood’s very first Members Meeting in April 1950 and Silverstone's Daily Express International Trophy the same year. Regularly seen competing with Altas, Alfas and ERAs the Chorlton Special was no slouch as illustrated by a 5th overall finish at the Goodwood Meeting.

In 1950, Michael Chorlton lost his life in a plane crash and his Special was sold on, falling into the hands of a Mr Rigg who further developed it by fitting a supercharged Alta engine, DB2 back axle and a pre-selector gearbox, pressing it into action and successfully competing in VSCC events throughout the 1960s. As is the way with racing cars, the Special changed hands on several occasions in subsequent years, eventually becoming the steed of Roger Hart who acquired the car in 1994 minus the chassis.  As a chassis was considered to be rather important, a replacement was sourced in the form of a Gino Hoskins T51 Replica Chassis which was modified to fit the car and accept a normally-aspirated Emeryson 2.5-litre Alta engine.

In more recent times, the car has been campaigned by Nick Pellet and latterly Max Sowerby both of whom called upon the services of Gareth Burnett’s Pace Products, further developing the car with recent appearances at the 2017 Goodwood Members Meeting and even more recently at VSCC Loton Park in September 2021, achieving a first in class in the hands of Tom Hardman. The CDL Chorlton Special has a known history with many prestigious events under its belt giving an enviable opportunity to its next custodian to experience the thrill of racing in days gone by. If only it could talk !


Lot Number
Registration Number
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Body Colour



For further information regarding this lot please contact Charles.





Vehicles can be collected from the RAF Museum on Monday 7th March between 9am and 2pm.

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