Lot 376: Bentley 4½-Litre Le Mans Replica Tourer
100 bhp, 4,398 cc OHC inline four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual gearbox, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 117.5" " Faithful recreation of Old Mother Gun, the famed 1928 Le Mans winner " Wonderful vintage racer or fast open-road tourer; 5,500-hour restoration " Some £30,000 invested since acquisition by current owner in 2010 Developed from the brilliant 3-litre, W.O. Bentley's more powerful 4½-litre débuted in 1925 and enhanced both the marque's carriage-trade business and built upon the racing success of its progenitor in one stroke. Of all Bentleys of the era, however, the 4½-litre, nicknamed Old Mother Gun, remains the most famous today. Crashed at Le Mans in 1927, it was repaired and then captured Bentley's third Le Mans title in 1928, with Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin co-driving. Mother Gun enjoyed an epic career and survives today. This faithful and handsome recreation is built on chassis 911, originally a 3-litre Bentley with Freestone and Webb drophead coupé bodywork, which was delivered new to Melbourne, Australia in January 1925. When eventually acquired by the prior owner in 2003 as a restoration project, it was running, but the original body was beyond repair. Rather than attempt a full restoration to original form, the decision was made to perform an exacting conversion to the Le Mans specification of Old Mother Gun instead. The car was completely dismantled and the chassis shortened by 2½ inches. It was fitted with fixed pillar struts, and the springs were re-tempered, reset and refitted with correct mountings and full-length gaiters. The brakes were rebuilt with finned drums, and period-correct 20-inch wire wheels with 5.25/50 tyres were installed. The engine was built upon a blower-specification block from the late Russ Rusty Turner. Added to this were a Reece camshaft, Phoenix crankshaft, connecting rods, high-compression pistons, needle-bearing rockers and boxes and a high-performance oil pump. A lightened flywheel, heavy-duty clutch and fully-rebuilt gearbox drive a new balanced propshaft and a 3.53:1 differential with new four-star crown wheel and pinion. The fuel tank is by Gavin Spencer. Replica coachwork in the Vanden Plas Le Mans style was expertly framed by Rod Wariner and panelled in aluminium by Vintage & Classic. All trim details are correct, including Vanden Plas sill plates. James Pearce furnished the seats in Muirhead leather, and the hood and tonneau covers, both full and half-length, are made to the original pattern. Accessories include both full and aero windscreens, as well as Air Ministry switches, pre-war Lucas P100 angle-mounted headlamps with stone guards, right-angle-drive Klaxon horn and two forward Klaxonettes, plus full instrumentation with dash-mounted air pump. The car is accompanied by a full photographic record of the 5,500-hour restoration. On its maiden outing, it was honoured with a concours win and has continued to delight its keepers and all onlookers. Since acquisition by the current owner, a further £30,000 was invested, including such new items as the alternator and starter motor, the cross-shaft assembly and new windscreen, as well as the addition of new racing pistons and engine tuning for additional power. A correct and painstaking representation of the 1928 Le Mans victor, this car is perfect for vintage racing, concours participation or pure motoring pleasure.
RM Auctions, The Grimaldi Forum, Monaco
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