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Lot 659: 1932 Bentley 4/8-Litre ‘Le Mans’ Tourer

Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles, Bonhams (3 December 2007)

This magnificent Le Mans-style Bentley incorporates elements of two of W O’s final models, featuring a 4-Litre chassis and 8-Litre engine. The Bentley 4-Litre was the old Cricklewood company’s swansong model before its absorption by Rolls-Royce. With the Depression biting, sales of the old 4½-Litre declining and its newest, 8-Litre, model costing all of £1,850 in chassis form, Bentley Motors desperately needed a new smaller model to compete with the Rolls-Royce 20/25hp. The result was the 4-Litre. The six-cylinder engine was designed by Ricardo, with overhead inlet/side exhaust valves and a claimed output of 120bhp at 4,000rpm. A double-drop chassis was adopted, closely based on that of the contemporary Bentley 8-Litre, and offered in two wheelbase lengths: 11’ 2” and 11’ 8”, both of which were shorter than the shortest of the two 8-Litre chassis available. Only 50 4-Litres were completed before liquidation.
With its Ricardo-designed engine and heavy, over-engineered chassis, the 4-Litre has never been a favourite with Bentley aficionados and many, such as the short-chassis example offered here, have been converted into exciting sports cars using the 8-Litre engine. The first owner of ‘VF4091’ was a Mrs Holland, who specified Carlton coupé coachwork, while in his definitive marque history, Bentley, The Vintage Years, Michael Hay records that ‘VF4091’ was used as an ambulance during WW2 by Warwickshire County Council. The car in its current form is the creation of the late Reg Parker, well-known Bentley aficionado and BDC member. It was constructed alongside his 8-Litre Bentley, which he used as a model, and fitted with a slightly wider than normal body for greater comfort when long distance touring.
As well as the usual period features - quick-release filler and radiator caps; cord-bound steering wheel; fold flat windscreen; headlamp stone guards; Brooklands aero screens and cord-bound road springs - the car incorporates a number of sensible and highly desirable modifications enhancing both performance and practicality. These include alternator electrics; Kenlowe cooling fans; Lumenition electronic ignition; electric (racing specification) water pump; triple SU carburettors; electric fuel pumps with in-line filter; 19” wheels; 40-gallon fuel tank; halogen headlight internals; twin electric klaxons; stainless-steel exhaust system; and a discreet built-in safe for overseas touring. (The original water pump comes with the car).
Finished in British Racing Green with matching leather-trimmed interior, the latter equipped with Jaeger 0-120mph speedometer and 0-4,500 tachometer, this well executed car comes with a new two-piece tonneau cover; a complete set of Bentley tools, jack and manual; and a spare set of wheels. It has been in the present ownership for approximately 15 years, covering 28,000-or-so miles during that time including tours to the Western Isles and trips to the North Cape, Russia, Minsk, Sicily and St Petersburg. Offered from a well-known and respected stable of Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars - all well maintained and kept ever ready for the epic journey - ‘RT 8484’ is offered with current tax/MoT certificate and Swansea V5 document.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles
Bonhams, Olympia, London,
TypeCar
Lot Number659
Estimate£200000-£250000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£250000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£276500
Year1932
Condition rating
Registration numberRT 8484
Mileage-
Chassis numberVF4091
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors