Lot 676: 1922 Bentley 3-litre Sports Two-seater with Dickey
Coachwork by Park Ward
�W.O.� Bentley 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. A.F.C. Hillstead was to write of the occasion:-
�The exhaust note from that engine was strident and, as the room was narrow with both floor and ceiling ricketty and resonant, the appalling din is better imagined than described�.
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.
Chassis no.50 was a particularly early production model supplied in May 1922 to its first owner, F Simeons, who specified Allweather coachwork by Park Ward. Its full history is not recorded and the car has something of the �woodman�s axe� about it with several modifications and changes carried out over the years. However all of these changes have, in our opinion, added not only to the charm of the car but even more so to its practicality and drivability. In particular it has been fitted with a braked front axle, an undoubted major benefit for a car with 3-litre performance, and in addition the car is fitted with twin SU �sloper� carburettors as fitted to the later Speed Models. Charmingly the car retains beaded edge wheels and tyres resulting in exceptionally light and precise steering � not a feature noted on later cars. At some stage the coachwork has been changed and the car fitted with period two-seater and dickey coachwork by Park Ward (one wonders whether the original Allweather coachwork in Bentley records may possibly have been a mistake?). XK 7450 is listed in Michael Hay�s standard work �Bentley the Vintage Years�. Notes in that tome suggested the car is fitted with engine no.804. Our recent inspection suggests the engine fitted is no.358 and the steering box bears the number 980. It is not unusual for Bentleys to have had significant parts swapped and changed over the years and in this case it has undoubtedly been to this car�s overall advantage.
During recent ownership significant work has been carried out to improve the drivability and reliability of this car. This work has included rebuilding the Perrot shafts, relining the brakes, setting up shock absorbers, regrinding valves, removing and inspecting cylinder block and finding bores and pistons very good, fitting new stainless water plates, fitting new steel rockers with rollers and ball ends to valves and rebuilding the 3:1 step-up box. A new cut-out has been fitted and an incorrect alternator replaced with a rebuilt Smiths dynamo unit. The gearbox has been stripped and rebuilt as necessary and it should be noted that the previous owner rebuilt the rear axle which is noticeably quiet. Electrics have been rewired as necessary and the Autovac overhauled. A new mahogany dashboard has been fitted and a multitude of instruments previously fitted discarded in favour of replacing only as closely as possible with correct period instrumentation. All this work has resulted in this car successfully completing the 1,000 miles Irish Trials Rally in 2007 and many other outings besides.
This charming early 3-litre car has a delightful patina of use and would probably leave most �concours� cars standing at the traffic lights. The coachwork is liveried in black with wonderful green leather upholstery, possibly the original. Driving equipment includes Lucas headlamps and Toby torpedo side lamps, fold-flat windscreen and Brooklands aero screens. The running boards embrace battery box and toolbox and a two gallon Shell petrol can is carried for the longer journey. This car is for the knowledgeable Bentley driver who will fully recognise its many attributes and comes with a Swansea registration document, restoration notes and owner�s handbook.
Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles|
Bonhams, Olympia, London,
|Hammer Price (inc premium)||£106000|
|Registration number||XK 7450|
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|Engine - cylinders|
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