1928 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre
Offered from a deceased Estate
1928 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer
Coachwork by in the style of Vanden Plas by Simmons of Mayfair
Registration no. KW 4721
Chassis no. UK3277
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. In only mildly developed form, this was the model which was to become a legend in motor racing history and which, with its leather-strapped bonnet, classical radiator design and British Racing Green livery has become the archetypal Vintage sports car.
Early success in the 1922 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, when Bentleys finished second, fourth and fifth to take the Team Prize, led to the introduction of the TT Replica (later known as the Speed Model). However, by the middle of the decade the 3-Litre's competitiveness was on the wane and this, together with the fact that too many customers had been tempted to fit unsuitably heavy coachwork to the excellent 3-Litre chassis rather than accept the expense and complexity of Bentley's 6½-Litre 'Silent Six', led to the introduction of the '4½'.
The new 4½-Litre model effectively employed the chassis, transmission and brakes of the 3-Litre, combined with an engine that was in essence two-thirds of the six-cylinder 6½-litre unit. Thus the new four-cylinder motor retained the six's 100x140mm bore/stroke and Bentley's familiar four-valves-per-cylinder fixed-'head architecture, but reverted to the front-end vertical camshaft drive of the 3-Litre. Bentley Motors lost no time in race-proving its new car. It is believed that the first prototype engine went into the 3-Litre chassis of the 1927 Le Mans practice car. Subsequently this same engine was fitted to the first production 4½-Litre chassis for that year's Grand Prix d'Endurance at the Sarthe circuit.
The original 4½-Litre car, nicknamed by the team 'Old Mother Gun' and driven by Frank Clement and Leslie Callingham, promptly set the fastest race lap of 73.41mph before being eliminated in the infamous 'White House Crash' multiple pile-up.
The 4½-Litre was produced for four years, all but nine of the 665 cars being built on the 3-Litre's Long Standard, 10' 10½"-wheelbase chassis. Purchasers of the 4½-Litre model were, in common with those of all Vintage-period Bentleys, free to specify their preferences from a very considerable range of mechanical and electrical equipment, in addition to whatever body style and coachbuilder might be required.
This 4½-Litre Bentley is one of 657 built on the 10' 10½" chassis and was originally bodied as a saloon by Gurney Nutting. Registered 'KW 3735', the Bentley left the factory fitted with engine number 'UK3278' and was first owned by one P N Hirst. The engine currently installed, 'MR3398', was formerly in another 4½-Litre, chassis 'MR3394'.
Little is known of the car's subsequent history until its arrival in Scandinavia in 1964 in the ownership of Bjorn Knoll of Oslo, Norway who kept it for over three decades until 1988. During Mr Knoll's ownership the Bentley was restored and re-bodied in the style of Vanden Plas by Simmons of Mayfair, with the mechanical rebuild being entrusted to marque specialists McKenzie Motors (later McKenzie Guppy). It is believe these works were carried out in the late 1960s.
In 1988 the Bentley passed its next owner Per Gjerdrum (still in Scandinavia) who remained its custodian until 1996 when the car returned to the UK. The body was then lightly refurbished and the wings repainted, and the following year the Bentley was acquired by its current (recently deceased) owner. Since then the car has been maintained with no expense spared, as evidenced by the substantial quantity of bills in the history file, many from marque specialist Clive Oliver. It is worthwhile noting that the engine has been rebuilt with a new Phoenix crankshaft and con-rods, and that the car is equipped with a brake servo and overdrive. These sensible upgrades were made with safe and comfortable touring in mind, and 'KW 4721' has indeed been rallied worldwide, visiting Continental Europe and the Southern Hemisphere on various BDC events. Well cared for and very nicely presented, this extensively campaigned '4½' wants for only an enthusiastic new owner.
Vendor Score Total: 79/100
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Key for sellers' assessments:
1/5 POOR. A project vehicle | Requires urgent attention | Damaged | Parts missing
2/5 AVERAGE. Useable condition | Requires some attention | Light damage
3/5 GOOD. Drive away | Presents well | Good history file | Drives well
4/5 VERY GOOD. Well restored | Running and driving with no noticeable faults | Sound throughout
5/5 EXCELLENT. Concours condition | Beautifully presented | Driving very well
EXTERIOR TOTAL: 20/25
Body Work: 4
INTERIOR TOTAL: 16/20
Dashboard/Door cards/Carpets: 4
ENGINE TOTAL: 16/20
Mechanical components: 4
Under Bonnet: 4
RUNNING GEAR TOTAL: 16/20
ELECTRICAL TOTAL: 8/10
Ancillary components: 4
Main components: 4
Car History File: 3