1924 Bentley 3.0 Litre Speed Tourer


Details

The Bentley motor car company was founded back in 1919 by brothers WO and HM Bentley. The Bentley brothers were involved in the motor industry having acquired the agency to sell French built DFP (Doriot, Flandrin & Parant) cars in 1912, however, they desperately wanted to build their own cars.

WO Bentley had established himself as a brilliant engineer during World War I when the French made DFP in which he competed, achieved a number of wins in various races and hill climbs. He was one of the first engineers who realised the advantage of using aluminium to create pistons. W.O Bentley was discharged from the army in 1919 and he set about creating his own car. His experience with aircraft engines proved an excellent starting point. He was also heavily influenced by two pre-war designs, the 1914 Grand Prix Mercedes and the 1913 Coupe de l’Auto Peugeot.

Bentley developed a 3.0 litre monobloc engine which featured four valves per cylinder, twin spark plugs and twin magnetos. He made extensive use of aluminium and magnesium which were quite exotic materials in the 1920’s, especially for road going cars. The first prototype, EXP1, was tested by “The Autocar” and received a glowing report. It was described as “For the man who wants a true sporting type of light-bodied car for use on a Continental tour – where speed limits are not meant to be observed – the 3 Litre Bentley is undoubtedly the car par excellence.”

The second prototype, EXP2, made its debut at the 1919 Olympia motor show. The new Bentley 3.0 Litre attracted a lot of attention however it wasn’t until September 1921 that the first model rolled of the production line. Between the 1919 motor show and September 1921 much work had been done to further refine the chassis. EXP2 was the first Bentley to record a race win at Brooklands on May 16th 1921. Bentley continued to use it for further testing in 1921 and 1922 before it was sold in 1923. EXP2 still exists today and is the oldest surviving Bentley.

Initially, production of the Bentley 3.0 Litre was slow but they got the formula right and their cars proved to be luxurious, reliable and fast thus attracting buyers from the elite of society. it didn’t take long for the order books to be filled with names of wealthy and aristocratic clients, including Prince George (later the Duke of Kent), the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) and the Duke of York, later King George VI.

Just like other manufactures in that period, Bentley supplied the engine, drive train, suspension and chassis, letting the client decide which coachbuilder they wanted to use to supply the body. Bentley offered three versions of their 3.0 Litre and they were identified by the colour of the badge on the radiator – the blue label, the red label and the green label. The blue label was the standard engine, the red label was powered by a higher compression engine and the green label was the high-performance model. Bentley had great confidence in their cars and offered a five year warranty on the blue and red label model. The green label, however, only came with a one year warranty because it really was a race car.

The cars were also incredibly successful on the race track with Bentley achieving the ultimate success winning Le Mans in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930. The Bentley 3.0 Litre was able to beat the the much smaller and more nimble Bugattis, prompting Ettore Bugatti to call it “the fastest lorry in the world”.

The Bentley 3.0 Litre was built from 1921 through until 1929 and in total 1,622 examples were built. This included three experimental models, 1,088 3.0 Litre models, 513 Speed Tourers and 18 Super Sports.

Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale this 1924 Bentley 3.0 Litre Speed Tourer (red label).

The original build sheets on file confirm this car was delivered in April 1924 to a Mr Barlow in the UK trough the local Bentley distributor F.A. Powell. The car was delivered with coachwork by Park Ward, who fitted a four-seater tourer body. The car was first registered in the UK as  XT8304. The car passed through a few owners in the UK before being acquired by Mr Gordon Pearce. In 1961, shortly after acquiring the car Pearce moved to New Zealand and he took the car with him. The car was subsequently registered in New Zealand as FB2612. In 1969 Pearce moved again, this time to Australia. His beloved Bentley travelled across the ditch and Pearce settled in the Melbourne suburb of Templestowe. The car was registered in Victoria as DOQ033.

In November 1969 Pearce acquired a spare engine for the car from the UK. It was a 1926 Bentley 3.0 litre engine with the engine number AP235. That engine was later fitted to the car.

In July 1972 Pearce sold the car together with some spare parts and the original engine to Rod Warriner from Ringwood, Victoria for $500. There is a receipt on file confirming the sale. Warriner decided to restore the car and at that time the original Park Ward four-seater tourer body was replaced by the current Vanden Plas four-seater tourer body. In his ownership the original engine was also rebuilt and refitted to the car.

The car passed through a few owners before being acquired by Lewis Luxton from Victoria on the 25th of November 1984. There is a receipt on file confirming the sale of the car to Luxton. At that time the car was registered in Victoria as WO 003. Luxton went on a journey to further improve the car and amongst other things was able to acquire a personalised plate with the original UK registration number. There are lots of receipts on file for all the repairs he had done whilst he owned the car. Amongst other things he managed to find a correct core for the radiator and had that rebuilt, he had the carburettors rebuilt and he had a new crankshaft made and fitted to the engine. In his ownership the engine was also rebuilt.

The car changed hands in 1998 and found its way to Perth, WA. For the next 20 years this lovely Bentley was used for club events, rallies and Sunday drives.

The current owner acquired the car in 2018, and it joined an eclectic classic car collection.

Given this Bentley 3.0 Litre carries what is now an older restoration dating back almost 50 years, it presents with just the right amount of patina inside and out. But it’s lovely . . . it’s just like your favourite leather jacket! It shows wear here and there, fits like a glove and looks great. This is a car you can drive and enjoy without worrying too much about a stone chip.

The paint work on the car has blemishes and is faded here and there, most noticeably are the paint chips on the guards. The external trim is similarly presented. But, it is all there and generally in good condition. As shown in the photos, the red label Bentley badge on the grill shows wear.

The condition of interior is consistent with the exterior. There are no rips or tears to the upholstery, but the seats and door cards show some wear. The carpets are in good condition.  The instruments and controls are well presented and look to be in working order. A nice touch is that the car retains its original Bentley inscripted pedal rubbers. The soft top is with the car and whilst damaged at the rear left, it would suffice for emergencies. There is a front and rear tonneau cover and both are in very good condition.

On our recent test drive the car performed really well. The owner connected up a battery and after a short time the 2,996cc engine burst into life. The owner said that the car hadn’t been started and driven for a while, but it started quite easily. The engine sounded healthy and it did not blow any smoke. After allowing the car to warm up it was time for our test drive. The car exceeded our expectations and it drove exceptionally well out on the open road. We had a perception that the car may be a little ‘tired’ given its presentation, but it was anything but. The engine pulled strongly and quite frankly the car just wanted to be driven. It got better with every mile!

The car is documented in the fabulous book – Vintage Bentleys in Australia.

Incredibly, this Bentley is now close to 100 years old. The car still has its original engine and can therefore be classified as a matching numbers example.

WO era Bentleys are rarely offered for sale in Australia, so this beautifully patinated 1924 Bentley 3.0 Litre Speed Tourer presents a unique opportunity.

Highlights:

  • Genuine 3.0 litre Bentley (red label) with known history from new.
  • Impeccable provenance.
  • Extensive history file with build sheets and receipts dating back to 1955.
  • Still retains its original engine.
  • Well-presented example with lovely patina.
  • Ready to use and enjoy.

Price $499,950


Specification

  • $499,950
  • Bentley 3.0 Litre Speed
  • 1924
  • Tourer
  • Manual
  • 4,710 miles
  • 2996cc

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