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The Bentley 3 Litre entered production in spring 1921 and like many cars of the period, was available in a number of differing chassis lengths. The smaller 9'9 ½" chassis intended for lighter and more sporting coachwork, and the 10'10" chassis introduced in 1923, built for more formal coachwork and often wore a blue "label" or a blue-coloured background for the radiator shell's badge. In 1924, a high-performance short-chassis model was built, introduced as the "Speed" model, and embellished with a red label badge. Production continued from 1924 until 1929.
Every Bentley departed the Cricklewood factory in North London as a rolling chassis. This enabled owners a choice of several coachbuilders to sculpt the intricate aluminium bodies. A number of prominent firms built all forms of 'Touring' and 'Saloon' versions, however it was the famous Weymann-Type touring bodies that were put to use in Bentley's Le Mans racers. This example was built in 1924 as a 3 Litre Speed Model on the shorter 9'9 ½" wheelbase chassis with a Speed Model specification engine, much the same as the Le Mans winning 3 Litre driven by John Duff and Frank Clement the same year. Ordered by Grosvenor Garage, Bournemouth, one of the bigger agents during the early 20's, service records show that delivery was delayed from the 5th July 1924 to the 3rd October 1924, making this example a 1925 model with twin SU carburettors, bearing the registration plate EL9842 (in which still remains today).
Service records suggest that this body was built to order for Grosvenor Garage and not for a customer, and that it returned to Vanden Plas (coach builders) for fitting side screens and back to Bentley to be updated to 1925 specification before it was sold to its first private owner (painted in white), Major A.C. Stanley Clarke. On the 5th March 1927, it was subsequently sold on with the new owner being listed as Gaffikin Wilkinson & Co, one of the major Bentley agents of the time, located in London. It was later sold to Miss M. Benson of Epsom, Surrey, on 28th November 1927. Benson was a keen Bentley fan, and later in April, 1929, she purchased another vehicle from Gaffikin Wilkinson & Co, this time in form of a new 4 ½ Litre, chassis MR3397. Likely trading in EL9842 at this time, as shortly after, a new owner Mr Thomas Hobson Mead of Oxford, who also owned a 4 ½ Litre saloon chassis, took delivery. In 1931 Mr Mead terminated his ownership and the car was sold to K. Johnstone, with minor work being carried out by Eddie Bowler for H.M. Bentley in January. Johnstone remained the keeper until 1933, with service records for more minor work indicated a new owner, Vicomte du Guerny. Just two more owners were listed before 1939, when Rolls-Royce closed down the old Bentley Motors Service Department and all service records ended.
Its first new post-war owner was J. Waite in, 1946, who kept it until 1952, when it was subsequently sold to D.F. Sillem. Sillem would keep the car for only one year before George Cholmondeley Willson purchased it on 21st October, 1953, the car was now presented in Black. In 1955, a Mr Jacob Epstein purchased the car; this was indeed the same world famous sculpture whose son, Jackie, later became a racing legend most famous for his exploits in his 250LM race car. A Mr George Smith then purchased the car in circa 1959 and he remarkably kept the car until circa 2002, when it was found and purchased Bill Sykes as a "barn find" that crucially retained all of its major original components.
Its most recent proprietor purchased the car in April, 2003 in its "barn find" state. Shortly after, it was subject to a most comprehensive restoration carried out by Wayne Huckle and at that time was adapted to resemble the 1927, Le Mans Winning 3 Litre "Old Number Seven", sporting race no.3. This was an easy conversion given the body style of this particular example was so similar from new. During this extensive restoration, the engine was handed over to the capable hands of leading vintage car restorers, VBE Engineering, who completed a full rebuild to 4 ½ litre specification crucially retaining the matching numbers crank case.
New blade wings were fitted in conjunction with battery boxes and toolboxes to the running boards, with lightweight team car pattern seats and a folding windscreen with additional aero screens mounted behind. Up front, Marchal headlamps were fitted with Smiths torpedo pattern sidelights.
Most recently, under DK Engineering's care, it has been inspected by leading Bentley Authority Clare Hay who has completed a most comprehensive report on the car who has confirmed that in her opinion the car does indeed retain its unmodified factory chassis and its matching numbers crank case. Additionally, it has received a full major service and brake overhaul which has been carried out by Marque specialist NDR Ltd. Today, located in our showrooms just outside of London, this exceptional Bentley is presented in fine order, accompanied by a well-supported history file (including "Buff" Log book) and represents a remarkable offer to purchase one of Bentley's most desirable models with eligibility to many major events.Download PDF Spec Sheet