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Lot 277: Bentley 3-Litre Tourer

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Bonhams (29 June 2012)

Drivers of Bentley's peerless 'Silent Sports Car' included motor industry notables such as Austin's Leonard Lord, Captain Archie Frazer-Nash, Gordon Sutherland of Aston Martin and C A Vandervell. Equally significantly, celebrity racing drivers who fully understood the importance of sound engineering, unstressed high performance and secure handling selected the 'Derby Bentley' as their favoured road transport. These included such public heroes as Sir Malcolm Campbell, Le Mans winner Woolf Barnato, Billy Cotton, Arthur Dobson, Raymond Mays, Tim Rose-Richards, Briggs Cunningham, Bernard Rubin, Prince Bira and the original owner of 'B24DG', Captain George Eyston. Like so many of his contemporaries, Eyston's passion for motor sport had been nurtured as a youthful spectator at the Brooklands track. Graduating from motorcycle racing to motor cars, his early activities involved Aston Martins. He was later to win the Brooklands Gold Cup and Gold Vase driving a Bugatti and the British Empire Trophy in an MG, a marque he was later closely associated with. Other marques with which he gained notable successes included Panhard-Levassor, Sunbeam and O M. However, it was record-breaking that was Eyston's passion and notable records included 120mph driving the MG 'Magic Midget' in December 1932. Three years later at the wheel of his 25-litre Rolls-Royce-engined 'Speed of the Wind' he averaged 140.52mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats over 24 hours. In 1937 he steered the massive 73-litre, twin aero-engined, six-wheeled 'Thunderbolt' to a World Land Speed Record of 312mph, raising the record yet again to 357.5mph in September 1938. Eyston's records continued in the post-war era and indeed he was engaged by MG to mastermind all of their record attempts throughout the 1950s. Eyston's choice of a 3-Litre Bentley as his road transport was no accident, he fully recognised the qualities of the 'Silent Sports Car' and commissioned Jarvis of Wimbledon to create the elegant two-seater body. He recalled, 'The idea was to have a high speed vehicle which could be used for carrying forgings and other precious materials needed for a projected front wheel drive car destined for World Long Distance Record Breaking on the Bonneville Salt Flats... I well remember clocking up some 24,000 miles on the road in less than a year. My Rolls-Bentley had a long life and was still in its original form when I spotted it in London many years after the Second World War.' Jarvis of Wimbledon worked closely with Abbey Coachworks, subcontracting much of their work to this respected company. It was they who created the coachwork on 'B24DG' to Captain Eyston's requirements, which included a capacious boot. The new car was distinctively painted in silver livery with red wings and, when illustrated in Eyston's biography Safety Last, the caption read, 'If this comes by, don't bother (to try to catch it. It is George Eyston's new Bentley.' In June 1936 Eyston had the original engine upgraded to the 'latest type' engine, number 'A3BG'. Following Eyston's ownership the car passed to Sir Clive Edwards in 1938, then to Clive Windsor-Richards in 1947, both notable names in motoring circles, and then in 1955 to J F Harrison of Derby. Almost 50 years ago, 'B24DG' was acquired by noted car collector Victor Crabb. This historic car was to original specification in all major respects and Victor Crabb embarked upon the most detailed restoration, leaving no stone unturned in the mechanical, coachwork or cosmetic areas and choosing the most respected restorers to execute the work. Bills on file indicate that the restoration commenced in 1983 and was finally completed in 1990, much of the work being entrusted to Rolls-Royce (and Bentley specialist, Colin Hustwayte. Subsequently the Bentley remained in Victor Crabb's family and was regularly used and meticulously maintained during this long family ownership. The current owner purchased the car at Bonhams' Goodwood 'Festival of Speed' sale in 2004 (Lot 782). Since acquisition the Bentley has been repainted in what is believed (after careful research) to be its original scheme of dark silver with Burgundy wings. Other noteworthy features include navy blue leather upholstery, twin Lucas horns and centre spot lamp, blade bumpers front and rear and metal-encased, rear-mounted spare wheel. Its capacious boot makes 'B24DG' an ideal car for rallies, and in recent years it has competed in La Carrera Mediterrana, winning the Touring class in 2005, and in 2006 took part in the Himalaya Rally travelling from Islamabad to Calutta via Kathmandu. Well maintained while in the vendor's care, this unique Bentley possessing exceptional provenance comes with two substantial history files containing its original handbook, copy chassis cards, sundry invoices, magazine articles, numerous old MoTs and tax discs, FIVA identity card dated 7/3/2005 (valid for 10 years), Swansea V5C document, MoT to April 2013 and references to many standard works and publications in which it is featured.

Lot Details
Auction Goodwood Festival of Speed
Bonhams, Chichester, Goodwood,UK
Lot Number277
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£115000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£130300
Condition rating
Registration numberPK 123
Chassis numberB24DG
Engine numberA3BG
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2