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Lot 162: Bentley 3/4-Litre 'Le Mans' Sports Tourer

Goodwood Revival Sale, Bonhams (15 September 2012)

Fitting the newly developed 4-Litre engine into the tried and tested 3-Litre chassis set Bentley on the way to its legendary four-year dominance of the Le Mans 24-Hour Race. It was this combination of a powerful engine and lightweight chassis that brought victories in France and helped create the 'Bentley Boys' mythical reputation both on and off the racetrack. Even today this combination is recognized as a formidable and competitive motor car. The Swiss owner of this particular example is a true enthusiast, having completed the grueling 9,000 mile Peking-to-Paris rally, crossed Australia and rallied in the Arabian Gulf States from Qatar to Oman in a similar car. He has used this extensive real-world driving experience to produce the ultimate rallying Bentley. 'The Frog' as it is known (the car handles so well in the rain) has been built in the style of 'Old Mother Gun' which won at Le Mans in 1927 and raced in 1928 driven by Woolf Barnato. This car takes advantage of the handling characteristics of its new Speed Model 9' 9"-whelbase chassis. Its distinctive third headlamp is in keeping with the 1928 Le Mans specification and sets this car apart from its counterparts. The original 3-litre engine was rebuilt by a marque specialist some 20 years ago. More recently it was upgraded to full 4-Litre specification with new pistons, valves, camshaft, cam bearings and gears. An original 4-Litre crankshaft has been reground and fitted together with all new white metal bearings, while the oil and water pumps have been overhauled. Twin SU fuel pumps feed the performance-tuned carburetors. The radiator has been overhauled. A desirable A-type unit, the gearbox was rebuilt with new gears 12,000 miles ago and all serviceable parts of the clutch have been replaced. An overdrive unit has been installed, and up-rated 8-Litre half-shafts fitted to the rebuilt differential. The front axle has new kingpins and bushes fitted. All shackle pins and bushes have been replaced and the road springs overhauled to give superb handling. The original steering box has been up-rated with 4-Litre steering gears to give precise steering. The dashboard is nicely set out and fitted with 'Air Ministry' switches as per the Bentley team cars of the day, while the interior has been re-upholstered and the body re-covered. There is also a very practical four-stick hood. This Vintage Bentley was built as a competitive rally car and as such has been discretely up-rated with hydraulic brakes for improved safety. In addition, the accelerator has been moved to the modern (right-hand) side, making the car much easier to drive for those not accustomed to older vehicles. 'The Frog' has recently been fine-tuned by the world-renowned Vintage Bentley expert, William Medcalf, who prepared it for racing and rallying. 'BF 5408' has a very respectable rallying history of its own having completed hill climbs, time trials and events at Goodwood race circuit. More recently the car finished the 1,000-mile 'Flying Scotsman' rally, coming third overall in the pre-1941 Class. Driven by William Medcalf himself, it set the fastest times against over 100 other cars on a number of the timed stages. 'The Frog' is VSCC eligible and has a current buff form. Offered with restoration invoices, current MoT/tax and Swansea V5 document, it is eligible and would be ideal for competitive rallying on events such as the long-distance Peking-to-Paris or the 'Flying Scotsman'. Certainly a welcome addition to any collection of fine cars.

Lot Details
Auction Goodwood Revival Sale
Bonhams, Chichester, Goodwood
TypeCar
Lot Number162
Estimate£230000-£280000
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1922
Condition rating
Registration numberBF 5408
Mileage-
Chassis numberRC188
Engine number128
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors