1924 bentley 3-Litre,
Lot 512
One family ownership since 1954,1924 Bentley 3-litre Speed Model Tourer Chassis no. 804 Engine no. 803
Sold for £150,000 (US$ 182,814) inc. premium

Lot Details
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One family ownership since 1954
1924 Bentley 3-litre Speed Model Tourer
Registration no. DS 1453
Chassis no. 804
Engine no. 803


  • The weekend of 14/15th June 1924 saw the second running of the Le Mans 24 Hour race, organised by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, a race which when inaugurated just the previous year W.O.Bentley had proclaimed mad and yet he had supported Duff and Clement that year – the sole British entry in their Bentley 3-litre, achieving a creditable 4th place. For the 1924 race Duff and Clement campaigned a 3-litre Speed Model Bentley, roaring to Bentley's first of many victories in that race at an average speed of 53.78mph and stealing valuable newspaper headlines for WO's infant company. Little wonder that this success, following on from successes in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, Brooklands Double Twelve Records and a worthy showing in the Indianapolis 500 Race in 1922, made the 3-litre Bentley the car to have in 1924. The Speed Model of that year featured a high compression engine, four wheel brakes, twin S.U. 'Sloper' carburettors and the A-type close ratio gearbox, all assembled on a chassis one foot shorter than the Standard models.

    The new model did not go un-noticed by Major E.G.Thomson of Ainslie Place, Edinburgh who ordered his new car - Chassis no. 804 – through long established coachbuilders and motor dealers, John Croall of Castle Terrace, Edinburgh, the car being first registered DS 1453 with Peebles County Council registration authority on 2nd February 1925. Bentley records confirm that the car was delivered to Croalls, on 13th December 1924 and the five year guarantee expiry date is recorded as February 1930, suggesting the car was delivered to the Major in February 1925. The coachbuilder of this car is not noted in factory records – it would not be beyond reason to think that the car may carry Croall's own coachwork, although there are no plates on the car confirming this suggestion.

    Bentley records show the engine was decarbonised, new piston rings fitted along with new top bevels in January 1928, possibly by Wally Hassan, and in 1930 recorded owners are shown as H.Bower and later L.Geary of The Drive, Wembley. Factory records show only minor work carried out up to 1935. The earliest of three old style buff log books with the car, dating from 1937, shows a succession of six owners in the period 1937 to 1947 and the car passed in 1948 into the ownership of Bertram Mead Barker of Warwickshire, by then being on the radar of The Bentley Drivers' Club.

    In November 1954, remarkably, 804 passed into the present family ownership, being acquired by lifelong Bentley enthusiast Bill Martin and crossing the border back into Scotland where it has since remained. Bill had bought his first 3-litre Bentley for £30 in 1933, raced motorcycles with some success in the 1920's and served as Secretary to the Winfield Joint Committee which ran motor racing events at Winfield and Charterhall Circuits in the Scottish Borders. 804 was a regular sight at these events being Bill Martin's preferred mode of transport. The car was actively campaigned by Martin in BDC events including the Whit Weekend Runs and many other vintage events in the Scottish Borders, before he passed the car to his enthusiast son in 2001. As an active nonagenarian then, Bill Martin continued to take an active interest in 804's well-being.

    804 now comes on the open market for the first time since 1954. It is one of those rare cars that has a continuous history, retains matching engine/chassis numbers, and furthermore seems to have been continuously used and maintained in running order from new. A new owner has the option to continue to use 804 'as is', run and improve or embark on a nut-and-bolt restoration. Whatever the choice the basic integrity of 804 is unquestioned and deserves careful conservation. The car comes with a Swansea registration document, three old style buff log books, correspondence from The W.O Bentley Memorial Foundation confirming its history, a copy of the factory records confirming service history up to 1935, correct headlamp internals, current MOT certificate to May 2011 and road fund licence.

Saleroom notices

  • Historical footnote: Major E.G.Thomson, the first owner of this car, was a director of the family shipping line, Ben Line Steamers, based in Edinburgh. His family home was at Callands in Peeblesshire. The Major was a motor sports enthusiast who provided substantial financial backing to Ecurie Ecosse in the 1950s and owned the 1956 Le Mans winning Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D-type (XKD 501) following its retirement from competition. His collection of significant motor cars , including XKD 501, was dispersed at auction in 1970 at Gleneagles, proceeds being donated to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in line with the family's shipping interests.
Auction information

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12% from £1,000,001 of the Hammer Price

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  1. Tim Schofield
    Specialist - Motor Cars
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 5804
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 5802
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