1928 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer in the style of Vanden Plas
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RM Sotheby's - Amelia Island
12th Mar 2016
1928 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer in the style of Vanden Plas
100 bhp, 4,398 cc SOHC inline four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual “D-type” transmission, solid front and rear axles with semi-elliptic leaf-spring suspension, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 129.9 in. Please note that the original dynamo, cone clutch, driveline components, as well as the wheel wrench are included with the car and will be shipped to the new owner after the sale. Spurred by the need for greater power and speed, which was required for Bentley Motors to ensure its competitive supremacy on the world’s racing circuits, the 4½-Litre model made its debut in late 1927, following a prototype’s running at that year’s Le Mans race. As the successor to the 3-Litre, it utilized the same bore and stroke as the six-cylinder 6½-Litre but retained the 3-Litre’s shaft-and-helical camshaft drive. The engine quickly proved its mettle, with Bentley swiftly taking an outright win at Le Mans in 1928 and meeting much continued success afterward at Brooklands. In racing trim, a properly prepared 4½-Litre was capable of 120 mph, which was considered quite remarkable for the era. Bentley built 665 of the 4½-Litre chassis, almost all of them with the longer 3,300-millimeter (129.9-inch) wheelbase and all with custom coachwork. During the four-year production run, few modifications to the engine were deemed necessary, attesting to its superb overall design. CHASSIS NUMBER PM3252 According to well-known vintage Bentley specialist and historian Dr. Clare Hay, 4½-Litre chassis number PM3252 was originally fitted with a coupe body by London coachbuilders Victor Broom and was delivered by Henlys in July of 1928 to M.D. Corrigan, registered YX 2006 (as it remains today). Factory service records continue through 1937, noting several further changes of ownership among British caretakers, including frequent Bentley customer and enthusiastic driver G.D. Morris, who put over 10,000 miles on this car! In May of 1947, PM3252 was acquired by William Howarth of Cheshire, England, remaining in his care until roughly 1955. It was then purchased by J.R. Walmsley, who would own it for a long period before selling it in 1982. Remarkably, the car then made its way to the African continent, residing in Zimbabwe in the ownership of D.M.A. Stronge. In 1995, Mr. Stronge, having reconditioned the largely original automobile, proceeded to drive it in that year’s South African Bentley Drivers Club rally; a photograph of the car shows it to be intact and still carrying its original Victor Broom Coupe coachwork. In 1999, the car was purchased by well-known Bentley enthusiast William Sykes and returned to the United Kingdom. The original, though arguably unattractive, Broom body was thus replaced with the current Vanden Plas–style Le Mans Tourer body. The new body was precisely crafted by specialist British coachbuilders James A. Pearce and Roger Wing, with sporting cycle fenders, a folding windshield and Brooklands windscreens, and correct Weymann patent bodywork of synthetic leather over a padded wooden frame. The car was also outfitted with a turned aluminum dashboard carrying the traditional large speedometer and tachometer, as well as other aeronautical-type gauges and an extended louvered bonnet and belly pans to better replicate the Le Mans appearance. Quick-release caps were installed on the radiator and the fuel tank, with the original, desirable “D-type” gearbox fitted with Laycock overdrive and an Eldown Engineering clutch conversion. The engine was overhauled with a Phoenix crankshaft, and dual Draper shocks were installed on the front axle. A large racing fuel tank was fitted along with proper Zeiss headlights, dual Bosch horns, and four “diver’s helmet” taillamps. After its completion, the Bentley made its way to the United States and, in 2001, was acquired by respected East Coast collector Piers MacDonald. Over the next 10 years, it was enthusiastically enjoyed as a robust tourer that ran beautifully in Bentley Drivers Club rallies and many of the North American Vintage Bentley meets. Notes on file from Mr. MacDonald indicate installation of new brake and drum linings and kingpins, as well as a rebuild of the original gearbox with new seals. More recently, it has been shown by its current owner in AACA National judging, winning a First Prize in 2014, and was also driven in three further North American Vintage Bentley meets (2012, 2013, and 2015), as well as in Bentley Drivers Club rallies in 2013 and 2014. Every sporting driver worth his or her salt needs to drive a “W.O.” Bentley once in their life. Many of the survivors have been re-bodied as Le Mans Tourers, few as sympathetically or accurately as this car, which retains its original chassis frame, engine, and drivetrain and has had its history documented by a known authority, whose detailed report is on file with RM Sotheby’s. It is the perfect “W.O.” for touring and rallies, as it has been enjoyed enthusiastically, becoming well-known and revered by the Bentley crowd.
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