Lot 725: Bentley 4 ½ Litre Le Mans Tourer
The Bentley 4½ Litre is a British sports car built by Bentley Motors. Its supercharged variant is also known as the Blower Bentley. Famous for his statement there's no replacement for displacement, Walter Owen Bentley upped the displacement of the Bentley 3 Litre in 1926 to produce the 4½ Litre. Upon taking control of the company, the Bentley Boys went in search of even more power and developed the supercharged model in 1929 at Henry Birkin's racing workshops in Welwyn Garden City. The total production of the 4½-Liter was 720 between 1927 and 1931. The Bentley 4½ Litre is notable for winning the 1927 24 Hours of Le Mans in normally aspirated form and for attaining the speed record in 1932 on the Brooklands circuit with a speed of 222.03 km/h in supercharged form. The 4½ Litre was an evolution of the 3 Litre, sharing that car's basic chassis, including its semi-elliptical suspension at all four wheels and four-wheel brakes. The straight-4 engine was bored out to 3.9 in to produce 4398 cc of displacement. This was good for 110 hp in road-going models or 130 hp when tweaked for racing. Chassis no FS3616 was completed and delivered to its first coachbuilder in March 1930, and was ultimately passed off by Bentley in June 1930, and registered VR 9379, its first owner being a Mr Box, with the car actually being sold by Tom Garner Limited in Manchester as agents. The service record for chassis FS3616 exists and is complete until 1939, with one interesting note in 1935, where it appears the car went to the factory for a test and report, and later notes in the file indicate the car is likely to have been sold to a new owner in Sheffield. As is true of all W.O Bentleys of the period, the factory service records cease in 1939, as the Bentley service department in Kingsbury was shut down by Rolls-Royce at the outbreak of the war. By 1970, FS3616 was owned by Hugh Harben, the famous Bentley enthusiast from the Midlands in England. Amongst other Bentleys owned by Mr Harben was none other than the famous Blue Train Gurney Nutting coupe, which Mr Harben had in actual fact discovered as a barn find and restored one of the most significant W.O Bentley discoveries of all time. At this point, chassis FS3616 had its chassis frame cut to nine feet, and as a result, Harben purchased the original chassis frame, PM3257, from Mr Rupert Glyden, and utilised this original Bentley frame in the restoration of FS3616. Harben fitted the car with correct Le Mans tourer coachwork with cycle wings and external toolboxes, and fitted the original bonnet from 4.5 litre supercharged car SM3194. Harben used the car in various Bentley Drivers Club events throughout Europe in the 1970s, prior to selling the car to the very well-known Anglo-American collector and racing driver Murray Smith. Smith continued to use the car on various competitive events, including the Mille Miglia retrospective, where he was partnered by none other than Formula 1 world champion Phil Hill. In 1988, the car was sold via Coys to the Allmand-Smith family, in whose ownership it has remained until this year. This is a known 4.5 Litre Bentley, with a correct original chassis frame (PM3257) and of course a correct engine (RL3443), with a number of notable owners and events to its credit, and benefitting more recently from a long and distinguished period of single ownership spanning some 22 years. The car is in fine overall condition throughout, and driving exceptionally well, with full Smiths and Jaeger Le Mans instrumentation and big clocks, machine-turned dashboard, cord-bound steering wheel, aero screens, and appropriate stone guards, with Le Mans fuel tank and filler, and fishtail exhaust. Cosmetically, the car is ostensibly as it was when rebuilt by Harben some 30+ years ago, and as a result, has a charming style and patina so appropriate for a Bentley 4.5 Litre Le Mans tourer.
Coys, True Greats, Royal Horticultural Halls, London
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|Registration number||VR 9379|
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