"All the products of Bentley Motors Ltd. have that nicety of control which is seldom if ever met with on cars emanating from factories which have never had a racing chassis under their roof". Praise indeed from the motoring correspondent of The Sphere, writing on 17th March 1928.
With characteristic humility W.O. Bentley was constantly amazed by the enthusiasm of later generations for the products of Bentley Motors Ltd. and it is testimony to the soundness of his engineering design skills that so many of his products have survived. From the humblest of beginnings in a mews garage off Baker Street, London, in 1919 the name of Bentley rapidly achieved fame as a manufacturer of exciting fast touring cars, well able to compete with the best of European and American sports cars in the tough world of motor sport in the 1920s. Bentleys domination at Le Mans in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930 is legendary and one can only admire the Herculian efforts of such giants as Woolf Barnato, Jack Dunfee, Tim Birkin and Sammy Davis, consistently hurling the British Racing Green sports cars to victory.
"W.O." had proudly debuted the new 3 litre car bearing his name on Stand 126 at the 1919 Olympia Motor Exhibition, the prototype engine having fired up for the first time just a few weeks earlier. A.F.C. Hillstead was to write of the occasion:-
"The exhaust note from that engine was strident and, as the room was narrow with both floor and ceiling rickety and resonant, the appalling din is better imagined than described."
In only mildly developed form, this was the model which was to become a legend in motor racing history and which, with its leather strapped bonnet, classical radiator design and British Racing Green livery has become the archetypal vintage sports car.
It was just such a car that A. Sidebottom ordered for delivery in October 1928, commissioning provincial coachbuilders, William Arnold of Manchester, to build the saloon coachwork and first registering the car in Manchester. So many of these early saloons had coachwork that did not stand the test of time and in later years this car was fitted with handsome four-door tourer coachwork by Freestone & Webb, with elegant, swept front wings and three-piece windscreen, this coachwork undoubtedly removed from a similar chassis.
This car was acquired by Bentley enthusiast, the late William Rogers, some forty years ago, remaining in his possession until his recent death. During this ownership it shared a stable with a most interesting collection of early motor cars which had been slowly disposed of over the years, the favourite Bentley being retained to the end. In this car William Rogers completed the London to Istanbul Rally as well as many events in France, Germany, Turkey and Ireland. The car is most attractively liveried in maroon with black wings and upholstered in black leather and condition in all departments is described as very good. It is offered with old style log book, Swansea V5 registration document, MoT valid to April 2004 and a current road fund licence.
- The original registration number VM 5203 maybe applied for through the Bentley Drivers' Club and the DVLA