Lot 227: Bentley 4-1/2 Litre Original Open Touring Coachwork
W.O. Bentley's automotive efforts were directed from the outset toward sporting motor cars. Success came quite quickly with the initial four-cylinder, 3.0-litre engines, which boasted four valves per cylinder and, a little later, twin spark ignition - both relatively advanced features in their time. As before the First World War, success followed at various racing events around the world: a team prize at the Tourist Trophy race on the Isle of Man and a victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The company was purchased by Woolf Barnato, of "Bentley Boys" fame. The Bentley Boys were the great Bentley drivers of the period with the principal players being Barnato, Dr. Benjafield, Birkin and Sammy Davies supported by bit players such as Duller, Gallop, Bourne, Kidston etc - as is recorded by motoring history. Barnato won Le Mans 3 times with various different support drivers. He purchased the company
in 1926, saving it from probable demise. After securing another victory at Le Mans the following year, Bentley introduced an attractive alternative to the established 3 litre and 6 1/2 litre cars, the former of which was now rather underpowered, and the latter considered somewhat ill-equipped for sporty driving. The new 4 1/2 litre however, was an excellent and much more performance-oriented engine, whether in a
two-seat racing or sports model or a more refined saloon. With Barnato at the company's helm, victory was achieved twice more at Le Mans and repeatedly at Brooklands. As with numerous other exclusive automakers of the period, Bentleys were offered with custom coachwork. Distinguished coachbuilders such as Freestone & Webb, Gurney Nutting, Vickers, and Vanden Plas all produced exceptional handcrafted tourer bodies for W.O. Bentley. Vanden Plas, in particular, proved to be among the most enduring coachbuilders and was employed by a wide variety of British and foreign marques, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Daimler, Alvis, and Lagonda
included. Vanden Plas traces its origins to 1870s Belgium, where it produced wheels and axle units for carriages. Work increased exponentially throughout the 1880s as Vanden Plas established coachworks both in Brussels and Antwerp. By 1900, the company was recognized as the finest Belgian coachbuilder and had developed strong relationships with De Dion Bouton, Berliet, Germain, and even Packard. Annual production increased from 300 to over 750 bodies, prompting expansion into the
British market. In 1913, Vanden Plas Ltd. was established in England, operating under licence of the Belgian parent company. Ten years later, the English subsidiary was fully established as an independent coachbuilder and relocated its operations to Kingsbury Works, Hendon. According to the The Times, "Vanden Plas-bodied cars had an air of distinction lacking in many of the products around them."
Of the relatively limited number of early Vanden Plas-bodied cars to have survived the 20th century, Bentleys are among the most sought-after. While some 667 4 � Litre Bentleys of all types were originally produced, some 200 of these being
graced with Vanden Plas coachwork, it is believed that only a small percentage of this number remain today. Experts further suggest that approximately half of these VDP Bentleys were assembled with the cycle style wings, whilst the others, including the example offered here today, were fitted with the elegant, if slightly less racy long wings. The Bentley 4 � Litre presented here was originally owned by Mr. E. Rawlinson of Carr House, Rawstenstall, Rossendale, Lancashire. It wears what is understood to be its original Vanden Plas 4-seater open tourer style body with long wings indeed a period photograph of this very car with is used to illustrate thisbdescription.
Records show that it was delivered to the coachbuilders with a 15/53 axle ratio and 'C' Type gearbox. It was maintained in its early days by
A. Ramsbottom of Heathersands Garage near Manchester and known to the Bentley Driver's Club throughout the 1950s. It was imported to the United States at the end of the 1950s where it is understood to have seen very little use at all in the ownership of Parker Snyder of Celina, Ohio, where it remained for almost 50 years prior to being
purchased by the present owner and shipped back to England . The present owner describes his discovery as being a good car which was largely complete and had clearly been in storage for some considerable length of time as can be seen from the photographs taken at that time.
With only a new windscreen and a few other minor components needing to be sourced prior to its sympathetic restoration, the finished
motor car presented today represents an unmolested example of a most desirable marque. Inspection showed that the engine was in good general order, the magnetos were completely overhauled and the engine and carburettors fully serviced. The seats were completely re-trimmed in dark blue leather, a new set of carpets and a new hood were made, brightwork re-plated, brakes and wiring checked and new tyres fitted.
Today, fresh out of restoration and finished in the very stylish and handsome Oxford Blue this matching numbers 4 � Litre Bentley presents beautifully and due to the long length of time hidden away in storage it is in mostly original condition. It is of course also very fresh to the market having been under the same ownership for much of the
past 50 years. While a certain amount of recommissioning is to be expected after such long-term storage, the result is sure to be magical and the chance to experience a vintage Bentley so recently roused from a lengthy slumber. This Bentley is perfectly suited for continued touring and enjoyment and just crying out to have the cobwebs blasted off during an enthusiastic drive around the English country lanes on a crisp, sunny, autumn morning. The daring Bentley Boys would have expected no less.
Dieser Bentley 4 � Liter wurde urspr�nglich an einen Mr E Rawlinson in Lancashire ausgeliefert und es wird angenommen da� er noch die originale offene und viersitzige Vanden Plas Karrosserie tr�gt. Die fr�he Geschichte dieses imposanten Bentley ist dem Bentley Drivers' Club gut bekannt. Ende der 50er Jahre fand er dann seinen Web in die Vereinigten Staaten , wo er im Besitz von Parker Snyder in Ohio in den folgenden fast 50 Jahren wenig bewegt wurde. Daraufhin wurde er vom jetztigen Besitzer erworben, der diesen offenen Tourer nach England zur�ckbrachte. Der Wagen pr�sentierte sich bei dieser Wiederentdeckung in sehr solidem und weitgehend originalem Zustand, und lediglich eine neue Windschutzscheibe und andere kleinere Komponenten mu�ten zur Restaurierung beschafft werden. So zeigte sich der Motor in immer noch gutem Zustandund musste nur gewartet werden, die Innenausstattung in blauem Leder wurde erneuert sowie ein neuer Teppichsatz und ein neues Verdeck angefertigt. Ebenso wurden neue Reifen montiert, die Zierteile neu verchromt sowie die Verkabelung und Bremsen �berpr�ft.
Eine wirklich seltene Gelegenheit, einen weitgehend originalen Bentley 4 � Liter zu erwerben, der nun zum ersten Mal seit 50 Jahren auf dem offenen Markt angeboten wird und nur auf seinen ersten Fr�hlingsausflug wartet.
Coys, Essen, Germany
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