1922 Bentley 3-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. 91 Engine no. 617
Lot 463
1922 Bentley 3-Litre Tourer Chassis no. 91 Engine no. 617
£120,000 - 150,000
US$ 200,000 - 260,000
Lot Details
1922 Bentley 3-Litre Tourer
Registration no. XL 3595
Chassis no. 91
Engine no. 617

Footnotes

  • 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. Bentley's four-cylinder 'fixed head' engine incorporated a single overhead camshaft, four-valves per cylinder and a bore/stroke of 80x149mm. Twin ML magnetos provided the ignition and power was transmitted via a four-speed gearbox with right-hand change. The pressed-steel chassis started off with a wheelbase of 9' 9½" (the 'short standard') then adopted dimensions of 10' 10" ('standard long') in 1923, the shorter frame being reserved for the TT Replica and subsequent Speed Model. Rear wheel brakes only were employed up to 1924 when four-wheel Perrot-type brakes were introduced.
    In only mildly developed form, this was the model that 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.
    Michael Hay's authoritative work, Bentley, The Vintage Years, records the fact that chassis number '91' was completed in May 1922 on the 'short standard' chassis with engine number '93'. The original coachwork is not recorded. The car was first owned by the Rev Jefferson Ellsworth Scott, a British clergyman mainly living in India. Chairman of the Famine Relief Committee and member of many other charities, he was the author of 'In Famine Land', an account of his observations and experiences in India during the catastrophic drought and famine of 1899-1900.
    In 1926 '91' returned to England for a complete engine overhaul and was upgraded with all the latest modifications including shock absorbers and front brakes, most probably included as part of the then five-year guarantee that went with every Bentley. It is believed that the car stayed in the UK with J E Scott's younger brother Lindsay M Scott, who used it until 1933.
    The next owner is not known but in 1935 the Bentley was registered by W G S Wike in the name of G E & W Wike Ltd of Chesham Mills, Bury, Lancashire. In 1936 H Blackburn of Ribbleton, Lancashire registered the car with the Bentley Drivers Club, whose records list Louis G Holland of Hatfield as owner in 1940. J B Knight was registered as owner by the BDC in 1948 but from that date up to the year 2000 there is little or no confirmed history, though it is clear that during this period the engine crankcase was changed from the original '93' to the current '617', the latter having started life in 'long standard' chassis number '615'.
    In 2000 a comprehensive 'ground upwards' rebuild took place, the engine, chassis, body, clutch, gearbox, axles, exhaust, fuel system, brakes, magnetos, radiator and lights all receiving attention. Seven years later the owner completely dismantled the engine and checked all the tolerances, remade several bushes to Bentley drawings' specification and reassembled the car, which for the past three years has been used both locally in the UK and in France. 'XL 3595' is reported to run very well, and is easy to start and drive. In 2008 the Bentley was driven at Le Mans, Le Castalet, Le Grand Sambuc and Le Luc, through the French/Swiss Alps, and in 2008 and 2009 followed the London-Brighton Veteran Car Run. This year an inspection was made of the big-end and main bearings, oil pump, etc, all of which were found to be showing surprisingly little wear. The brake and clutch linings are said to be like new, while the chassis and body are described as tight, free of rattles or wear, and good for years ahead.
    XL 3595' is very sporting with its light fabric body and twin SU 'sloper' carburettors, which give it plenty of urge. Offered with current MoT/tax and Swansea V5 registration document, this early Bentley 3-Litre is ready for its next chapter in its life.
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