c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text

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Lot 254
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger
Registration no. PO 3265 (UK) Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text

US$ 900,000 - 1,000,000
£ 670,000 - 750,000
Amended
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger
Coachwork by Elmdown Engineering c.1974

Registration no. PO 3265 (UK)
Chassis no. See Text
Engine no. See Text
This impressive and imposing Vintage Bentley was built up in the early 1970s by well-known arch ‘W.O.’ specialist Stanley Mann. Equipped with well executed ‘Birkin Blower’ coachwork and trimmings it was subsequently registered by him in the UK with the road registration of PO 3265, once the registration number of Blower chassis number SM 3902.

In this form the car was subsequently sold at a Christie’s auction in July 1974 when it was purchased by the late Ray Clapham of Keighley, UK. The car was next sold at auction in 1979 at Sotheby’s at Donington Park. The buyer then was another collector of note – T. Layton Roberts of Wales. In 1980 Mr. Roberts sold the car through a London dealer to its present owner, Peter Briggs of York, Australia.

Today, improved knowledge of the marque and these models enables more detailed deciphering of the components used to build the car, perhaps more than ever before. For the ‘number crunchers’ through respected Bentley historian Tim Houlding it has been possible to confirm that the car actually comprises:

An original late/heavy gauge 4½ liter chassis, with correct Blower-type steering box support bracket and with bolted strut gear. The presence of this original special steering column bracket strongly suggests that this is a genuine supercharged frame although its identity is indeterminable.
original supercharger unit number 124 (originally fitted to SM 3922);
a built up 4½ liter engine - itself comprising a late ‘heavy crank’ Elektron sump, a replacement aluminum crankcase (the original Elektron unit stamped with SM 3905 today exists elsewhere; at the time of its 1975 auction sale this car was recorded as having had a replacement crankcase.)
original 4½ liter ‘D’ Type gearbox - number 7088 – (ex-chassis no. TX3235)
original Blower Bentley bonnet number MS 3949 (known to have been removed during the restoration by Tony Townshend of that car in the early 1970s);
an original 4½ Liter steering column (ex-UK 3298);
original late type 4½ front axle with self-wrapping brakes,
original back axle made up of a 3 liter banjo and 6½ liter nose piece.

The fitting of the supporting tie bar for the supercharger means that a supercharged Bentley 4½ liter chassis by definition had only one point where its identity was stamped on the frame (a normal chassis being stamped also on the front ‘knuckle’). That is on the unique ‘Blower’ front cross member – often described as a ‘spectacle’ frame owing to its shape. These cross members are stamped on the passenger side of the car close to the chassis. On this car the front cross member is stamped MS 3934 in the correct type face and location.

The explanation for this appears to be that this piece comes from chassis MS 3934, which at some point in its life was rebuilt and fitted with a 6½ Liter engine. The sheer size of the six cylinder engine compared with the four cylinder unit would have necessitated modification of its chassis frame and it seems likely that this is the point that this cross member became separated from that car.

Today another car claims the MS 3934 ‘Blower’ identity, although the car was undoubtedly rebuilt in 6½ liter form at one point. According to Hay’s ‘Bentley - The Vintage Years 1919-1931’ – this is ‘now rebuilt as Birkin replica on 9’9 ½” wheelbase by H&H. Engine based on crankcase SM 3920 ex-ch. SM 3918. S/C ex-SM 3924.

Since its purchase by the current vendor in 1981, the ‘Blower’ Bentley has resided in Australia. The car was in good condition mechanically and bodily when acquired, and during the succeeding three decades has been used regularly in historic events at Wanneroo Raceway, as well as the annual ‘Flying Fifty’ events at York and other country-town ‘around the houses’ racing re-enactments such as the Albany TT. In September 1986 the Bentley took part in the ‘Bay to Birdwood Run’, which supported South Australia’s 150th Jubilee celebrations, in company with 1,808 other vehicles entered. It also competed in the 1986 SGIO ‘Rally West’ vintage car event.

During 1988 the Bentley underwent extensive mechanical restoration at the hands of John Hunting, a restoration which resulted in it performing better than at any stage since its reconstruction. In November 1988 the car was taken to Adelaide where it featured in the supporting historical events run on the Formula One Grand Prix circuit during the lead up to the Australian Grand Prix. One of these was the famous ‘Climb to the Eagle’, a fast run by the historic cars on public roads to the Eagle Hotel in the Adelaide Hills.

In November 1992 the Bentley participated in the inaugural ‘Genevieve 500’ race established by Paul Terry. This race started in Perth and finished in Albany, and included the ‘film star’ Genevieve and its rival, the Dutch Spyker. In March 1997 the Australian Grand Prix held in Melbourne featured the Bentley marque and the ‘Blower’ was shipped to Victoria for the occasion. There it participated in the historic events associated with the Grand Prix, competing on the Albert Park Grand Prix track with other Bentleys including four Speed Six models, and one other Blower.

In more recent years, the car has been on display at the Fremantle Motor Museum, emerging occasionally to be driven to special events and car shows.

For the non-‘number-crunchers’ in essence it is all Bentley, all its key components (save for the crankcase) left the Cricklewood works in period and importantly is topped off with an original supercharger – the famous ‘blower’ unit!

‘Blower’ Bentleys seldom come on the market and this car represents a rare opportunity to acquire one of these most charismatic cars for substantially less than the $4m or more recently achieved by entirely original, matching numbers cars.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note, this lot is applicable to an import duty calculated at 2.5% of the hammer price. This duty will be invoiced to the purchaser but may be refunded if the lot is exported within certain criteria.
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
c.1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style’ Tourer with original Supercharger  Chassis no. See Text Engine no. See Text
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