1925 Bentley 3/4½-Litre Speed Model Red Label Tourer Registration no. YL 4773 Chassis no. 1162 Engine no. SP 1407
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", 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. Early success in the 1922 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, when Bentleys finished second, fourth, and fifth 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. Identified by the Red Label on its radiator, the Speed Model differed by having twin SU 'sloper' carburettors, a higher compression ratio, different camshaft and the close-ratio A-type gearbox, the latter being standard equipment prior to 1927 when the C-type 'box was adopted. These engine changes increased maximum power from the standard 70 to 80bhp and raised top speed to an impressive 90mph. Other enhancements included the larger (11-gallon) fuel tank and (usually) Andre Hartford shock absorbers. Bentley made approximately 1,600 3-Litre models, the majority of which was bodied by Vanden Plas with either open tourer or saloon coachwork. Michael Hay's authoritative work, Bentley, The Vintage Years, records the fact that '1162' was completed as a Speed Model with four-seat coachwork by Vanden Plas. The engine number is recorded as '1174', the registration as 'YL 4773' and the first owner as one P Latham. One of only 513 Speed Models built, the car was sold to J W Cock in 1931 and then to C D Pitman in 1934. A C B Matthews owned the Bentley from 1947 to 1970 and while in his ownership the car was involved in a head-on collision with a Rolls-Royce during a funeral procession, the accident occurring in 1961. Some parts were then sold to H J K Townshend. '1162' was subsequently purchased by Richard 'Dick' Baddiley, a prominent VSCC Bentley racer, who acquired engine number '685' and rebuilt the car as a 'racing bitsa'. The original Vanden Plas body was sold and a special body fitted in its place. There is a photograph on file of Dick Baddiley racing the Bentley at a VSCC Silverstone meeting. In 1989 the Bentley was rewired and sold to H C Peity (in Portugual) who in turn sold it to marque specialist Stanley Mann in 1989. The chassis frame was straightened and modified by Green Farm Racing (Julian Ghosh) with new dumb irons before being rebuilt to 'Mother Gun' replica specification using the following parts: engine number '922'; front axle 'VA 4086'; differential casing 'KM 3083'; rear axle 'KD 2104' (ex '815'); C Type gearbox; and an original Vanden Plas body numbered '1241'. The Bentley was then sold to Tim Houlding who owned it from 1990 to 1994. During his ownership '1162' was fitted with a 4½-litre engine ('SP 1407'), front axle ('FA 2508') and a lighter A Type gearbox (number '395'). The steering box is original to '1162'. Following a period of inactivity between 2000 and 2012 the Bentley has been re-commissioned by Solutions Racing of Standlake, Oxfordshire. Works included repairs to the ahs frame, interior trim and fuel tank, new wheels, road springs realigned, new hydraulic braking system and a new oak dashboard installed. Now driving beautifully, '1162' represents an exciting opportunity to acquire Vintage Bentley rebuilt to ultimate specification. The car is offered with MoT/tax to August 2013 and Swansea V5 registration document.