1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428

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Lot 48
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer
Coachwork by Vanden Plas Registration no. UU 8740 Chassis no. RL3428

Sold for £ 525,000 (US$ 723,687) inc. premium
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer
Coachwork by Vanden Plas

Registration no. UU 8740
Chassis no. RL3428
*Original chassis, engine, gearbox, body, registration, etc
*Single family ownership since 1939 (80 years)
*Exceptionally well documented
*Well maintained throughout its life
*Recently re-commissioned by Brewster Mudie Ltd

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 name of 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 hurling the British Racing Green sports cars to victory.

    W O Bentley had proudly debuted 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 second, fourth, and fifth to take the Team Prize, led to the introduction of the TT Replica (later known as the Speed Model). However, by the middle of the decade the 3-Litre's competitiveness was on the wane and this, together with the fact that too many customers had been tempted to fit unsuitably heavy coachwork to the excellent 3-Litre chassis rather than accept the expense and complexity of Bentley's 6½-litre 'Silent Six', led to the introduction of the '4½'.

    The new 4½-Litre model effectively employed the chassis, transmission and brakes of the 3-Litre, combined with an engine that was in essence two-thirds of the six-cylinder 6½-litre unit. Thus the new four-cylinder motor retained the six's 100x140mm bore/stroke and Bentley's familiar four-valves-per-cylinder fixed-'head architecture, but reverted to the front-end vertical camshaft drive of the 3-Litre. Bentley Motors lost no time in race-proving its new car. It is believed that the first prototype engine went into the 3-Litre chassis of the 1927 Le Mans practice car. Subsequently this same engine was fitted to the first production 4½-Litre chassis for that year's Grand Prix d'Endurance at the Sarthe circuit.

    The original 4½-Litre car, nicknamed by the team 'Old Mother Gun' and driven by Frank Clement and Leslie Callingham, promptly set the fastest race lap of 73.41mph before being eliminated in the infamous 'White House Crash' multiple pile-up. The 4½-Litre was produced for four years, all but eleven of the 662 cars made being built on the 3-Litre's 'Long Standard', 10' 10"-wheelbase chassis. Purchasers of the 4½-Litre model were, in common with those of all Vintage-period Bentleys, free to specify their preferences from a very considerable range of mechanical and electrical equipment, in addition to whatever body style and coachbuilder might be required.

    Chassis number 'RL3428' has been authenticated by marque authority Dr Clare Hay as a completely matching numbers example retaining its original Vanden Plas body, making it highly unusual among surviving Cricklewood Bentleys. The fact that this car has enjoyed single family ownership since 1939 – a total of 80 years – in no small measure explains its quite exceptional degree of originality.

    Ordered by Jack Barclay Ltd, 'RL3428' was sent to Vanden Plas in February 1929 who fitted the current sports 4 seater body, number '1429'. Previously used on another Bentley 4½-Litre ('SL3066') and originally skinned in fabric, this body had been refurbished by Vanden Plas and was then fitted to 'RL3428' and registered 'UU 8740'. Jack Barclay Ltd sold the Bentley to its first owner one Major C L Y Parker who had specified a modified 15/50 rear axle, single exhaust silencer and interchangeable Young batteries. In 1930 the 4½ was upgraded by Bentley Motors including a 'Le Mans Conversion' with hour glass pistons, flat top valves, flexible petrol connections, Autopulse fuel pump, and extra pair of shock absorbers front and rear; the twin front shock absorbers are still in place. Major Parker traded the 4½ in via Jack Barclays in 1932 for a supercharged 4 ½ -litre, chassis MS3946 (this car is now on display at The National Motor Museum rebuilt as a Birkin replica).

    Some 4 years later 'UU 8740' was pictured in Aeroplane Monthly magazine, parked on the grass runway at the Lympne Air Rally in 1937. The deceased vendor's uncle, Alistair Maclennan, purchased the Bentley in 1939; it passed from Alistair Maclennan's estate to the late owner in 1982. An engineer, the deceased owner kept full documentation of his servicing and maintenance (viewing highly recommended).

    The comprehensive history file also contains records of an engine rebuild carried out by The Green Garage, Maidstone in 1951. That same year, A H Tooley of London welded the chassis frame and fitted the straightening bracket that is still in place today. In 1963 the bodywork was restored and re-panelled in aluminium (see bills on file from FLM Panelcraft, London) and the interior re-trimmed by Allan/Povey, Kent at the same time. A 1964 picture on file shows the car with its new skin and trim, but less hood. The hood was then fitted by Coachcraft of Catford, London in 1966.

    The Bentley was well maintained by Hoffman & Burton throughout the 1960s and then stored during the 1970s prior to its purchase from Alistair Maclennan's estate in 1982. A letter on file from IMAC Engineering of South Nuffield details the re-commissioning work required.

    The Bentley then underwent considerable refurbishment to bring it back to useable condition and was then used extensively by the late owner, being well maintained by him for the next 30-plus years. In 1987 the engine and gearbox were rebuilt, and in November 1991 an overdrive unit was fitted (a graph on file shows the theoretical top speed of 140 at 4,000 revs!).

    Following approximately 10 years of inactivity, laid up because of the owner's ill health, the Bentley was entrusted to pre-war specialist restorers Brewster Mudie Ltd of Bromsgrove. They have carried out a thorough service and check over, set up the carburettors and ignition timing plus many other small jobs. Jeremy Brewster confirmed 'the result being a delightful old motor car which you could use as is, or indeed improve in areas in time'.

    In addition to the aforementioned documentation, the history file also contains the Hay Report confirming this delightful 4½ is an original bodied completely matching numbers example, a continuation buff logbook; V5 and V5C Registration Certificates; Bentley Drivers' Club valuation from 2014; a quantity of expired MoTs certificates for the period 1970s-2000 (incomplete run); and a quantity of Bentley technical drawings.

    A 4½-Litre Bentley of quite exceptional originality, 'RL3428' is the perfect way to enjoy the many events planned in celebration of Bentley's 100th Anniversary in 2019.
Contacts
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer  Chassis no. RL3428
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