1928 Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model,
Lot 409
Same family ownership since 1945,1928 Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model Tourer Chassis no. ML1524 Engine no. HT1626
Sold for £128,000 (US$ 165,918) inc. premium

Lot Details
Same family ownership since 1945  Chassis no. ML1524 Engine no. HT1626 Same family ownership since 1945  Chassis no. ML1524 Engine no. HT1626 Same family ownership since 1945  Chassis no. ML1524 Engine no. HT1626 Same family ownership since 1945  Chassis no. ML1524 Engine no. HT1626 Same family ownership since 1945  Chassis no. ML1524 Engine no. HT1626 1928 Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model, 1928 Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model, 1928 Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model,
Same family ownership since 1945
1928 Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model Tourer
Registration no. KW 4429
Chassis no. ML1524
Engine no. HT1626


  • With characteristic humility 'W O' was constantly amazed by the enthusiasm of later generations for the products of Bentley Motors Limited, 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 Bentley rapidly achieved fame as an exciting fast touring car, well able to compete with the best of European and American sports cars in the tough world of motor sport in the 1920s. Bentley's domination at Le Mans in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930 is legendary, and one can only admire the Herculean efforts of such giants as Woolf Barnato, Jack Dunfee, Tim Birkin and Sammy Davis, consistently wrestling the British Racing Green sports cars to victory.
    W O Bentley proudly unveiled 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. 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.
    Early success in the 1922 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, when Bentleys finished 2nd, 4th and 5th to take the Team Prize, led to the introduction of the TT Replica (later known as the Speed Model) on the existing 9' 9½" wheelbase, short standard chassis. An increase in compression ratio increased maximum power from the standard 70 to 80bhp and raised top speed to 90mph.
    Remarkably, this matching-numbers Speed Model has been in the same family ownership since 1945. Michael Hay's authoritative work, Bentley, The Vintage Years, records the fact that 'ML1524' was completed on the short standard chassis with engine number 'HT1626' and saloon coachwork by Gurney Nutting, and that the car was registered 'KW 4429'. Factory records provided by the Bentley Drivers' Club list several owners up to 1939, when 'KW 4429' was owned in London by a Mr N C H Barrett of Portsoken House, EC3.
    There is then a gap until the war's end in 1945 when the vehicle was acquired from engineer Alfred Radford by a Northumberland farmer, Mr Henry Gibb. At that time the car was already fitted with the unidentified four-seater tourer body that it carries to this day; also the cycle-type front wings, said to have been fashioned by Mr Radford from an original Bentley bonnet.
    Henry Gibb proceeded to use the Bentley for duties around the farm including harrowing his fields! The robust tow-bar is still in place. On the day petrol rationing was lifted he went on an excursion with his bride-to-be and subsequently, in November 1947, used 'KW 4429' as his honeymoon transport.
    Henry Gibb joined the BDC in 1948 and for the next 40 years regularly attended Scottish and NE Region events. His young daughter, Helen, became fascinated by the Bentley and can be seen in archive photographs taken at Club meetings. Henry always impressed upon her the utmost importance of keeping the mechanical elements in good condition and she was soon able to routinely maintain the Bentley. She was also able, with a little practice, to achieve perfect clutch-less gear changes, a skill she is very proud of and retains to this day.
    In the 1980s, with Henry's eyesight failing, Helen took up chauffeuring duties under his expert instruction. Later, in 1992, with the passing of her parents, Helen became the owner of 'KW 4429'. In 1995, having moved to London where there was no opportunity for storage, Helen decided to base the Bentley in Scotland with a well known BDC member whose father is a respected engineer, maintaining a number of cars 'across the border'. In return for his free maintenance, the son had access to the car whenever Helen did not require it.
    As well as general maintenance, a number of key mechanical elements have been renewed recently including the cross-shaft gears (three years ago) and the valves and guides (last year). Earlier this year the engine received a new Phoenix crankshaft and connecting rods, crankcase O-ring modification - with all machining undertaken by marque experts – new clutch thrust bearing, high-speed oil pump, new Cardan shaft fabric coupling, and new tyres. This car also benefits from a C-Type gearbox and a Feeny & Johnson brake servo.
    It should be noted that the nature of the maintenance arrangements precluded the issuing of any paperwork, though there is a photographic record of the crankshaft installation on file. Accompanying documentation includes the aforementioned chassis records, assorted period photographs, a few expired MoT certificates, Swansea V5C registration document, current road fund licence and MoT to May 2012.
    This matching-numbers Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model is certain to appeal to the growing band of enthusiasts who prefer an 'oily rag' vehicle, or perhaps to someone content with a limited amount of cosmetic improvement that would not destroy its patina, safe in the knowledge they would not have to bear the cost of major mechanical work.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note this lot has the Phoenix crank and rods on full shell bearing conversion, with full flow filter. The coachwork fitted to the Bentley is from an Austin 12/6 Newbury sports and is one of approximately 108 made between 1932-34.
Auction information

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

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  1. Sholto Gilbertson
    Specialist - Motor Cars
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 5809
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 5802
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