1927 Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model Tourer  Chassis no. LT1591 Engine no. HT1628
Lot 368
1927 Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model Tourer
Coachwork by Vanden Plas Registration no. KW 1820 Chassis no. LT1591 Engine no. HT1628
Sold for £225,500 (US$ 373,823) inc. premium
Lot Details
1927 Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model Tourer
Coachwork by Vanden Plas

Registration no. KW 1820
Chassis no. LT1591
Engine no. HT1628


  • 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.

    The 3-Litre offered here started life with chassis number 'HT1628', the same number as its engine, which was originally fitted with coupé coachwork by H J Mulliner. Registered 'KW 1820', the Bentley was first owned by a Miss S Briggs. Michael Hay's authoritative work, Bentley, The Vintage Years, records the fact that 'HT1628' was rebuilt with chassis number 'BL1601' in November 1930 following an accident and fitted with four-seat coachwork by Vanden Plas. However, the frame currently in the car is from 'LT1591', another Speed Model dating from 1927.
    Acquired in 1962 by Sir Claude Hagart-Alexander, the Bentley later passed into the ownership of the late Bobbie MacIntyre. The latter restored 'KW 1820' as near as possible to Bentley team car specification and adopted Birkin's racing colour scheme of red. After completion the car took part in the 1986 Mille Miglia Retrospective and Bentley Drivers' Club Golden Jubilee Event at Buxton. In 1988 'KW 1820' was among the MacIntyre Collection cars sold at Sorn Castle, passing into the private ownership of an enthusiast, who kept the Bentley until it was offered for sale at Brooks' Earls Court auction in October 1997 (Lot 369). At that time it was reported that 'KW 1820' has been used infrequently and undergone a programme of refurbishment including new paintwork immediately prior to the sale. Mechanical work had included the overhaul of the brakes, suspension and carburettors.

    The present owner purchased the Bentley at the 1997 Brooks Earls Court sale and commenced its restoration in 1998. The car was completely stripped and the chassis and front axle sent to a specialist for checking. They were then shot blasted and powder coated, while all worn parts of the suspension and braking systems were replaced. The engine was sent to a specialist for a full rebuild, the gearbox checked, and the radiator re-cored by Northampton radiators. Wings and running boards were replaced, the original body repaired and the old trim put back. A new wiring harness was fitted, the instruments rebuilt and a new Pierce windscreen installed. Fuel is now delivered via an electric pump, the Autovac being a dummy. In 2002 'KW 1820' completed the Bentley Drivers' Club's New Zealand Tour, covering a distance of 3,522 miles.

    In 2004, it was decided to replace the gears with a constant mesh set, the work being undertaken by marque specialists Brineton Engineering in Walsall. In 2011, a plate clutch conversion was fitted, replacing the original cone clutch. All the old parts have been kept and the conversion is reversible. Now driving superbly, 'KW 1820' represents an exciting opportunity to acquire a sensibly updated and well-documented Vintage Bentley. The car is offered with V5 registration document, current MoT/tax and a detailed history file containing bills and restoration photographs.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note the MOT expired in August 2013.
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