1929 Bentley Speed Six 'Le Mans Replica' Tourer Registration no. GK 2472 Chassis no. SB2751
'It is extraordinarily difficult to explain in words or writing the exact fascination of a big, fast car of the type so ably represented by the big Bentley speed model.' The Autocar on the Bentley Speed Six, September 5th, 1930.
Although the 6½-Litre had been conceived as a touring car to compete with Rolls-Royce's New Phantom, in Speed Six form it proved admirably suited to competition. In 1929 Barnato/Birkin's Speed Six won the Le Mans 24 Hour Race ahead of a trio of 4½-Litre Bentleys, and Barnato/Kidston repeated the feat in the following year's Grand Prix d'Endurance at the Sarthe circuit ahead of similarly-mounted Clement/Watney. Small wonder then, that the fast yet refined 6½-Litre Speed Six was W O Bentley's favourite car.
Walter Owen Bentley had established Bentley Motors in 1919 in the North London suburb of Cricklewood, though deliveries did not begin until 1921. The first model, a 3-litre car, was powered by a four-cylinder, single overhead camshaft engine with four valves per cylinder. It was a mechanical theme perpetuated in the greatly refined six-cylinder 6½-Litre model of 1926. The need for a larger car had resulted from Bentley's customers specifying bodies of a size not envisaged when the 3-Litre was conceived, a factor only partially addressed by the introduction of the Long Standard chassis in 1923. The 6½-Litre was produced for four years, during which time 544 chassis were completed, 182 of them to Speed Six specification.
According to Clare Hay's authoritative work, Bentley: The Vintage Years, this particular Speed Six, registration number 'GK 2472', is one of only 121 6½-Litre models erected on the short 'SP2' (11' 6") chassis. The car was originally bodied by H J Mulliner as a Weymann-type saloon and displayed on Bentley Motors' stand at the Olympia Motor Show in 1929. It was retailed via Jack Barclay and first owned by one W G Sykes of Edgerton, Huddersfield. Hay lists four further owners: G A Gibb (1935), H S Scott (1939), Ronald Loader (1948) and W Nicholson (1954) noting 'sold as chassis by Nicholson'.
By 1995, one M Woodcock owned the Bentley, which later that same year was acquired by renowned marque specialist, Stanley Mann. The Vanden Plas Team Car replica body was fitted by Mann circa 1996, while the engine, 'FW2603' is from 6½-Litre chassis number 'FW2619'. Manfred Oprée purchased 'GK 2472' in 1996, his 4½-Litre Bentley being taken in part exchange, while the rear spring height was corrected and a new camshaft fitted at time of delivery. In 1998, the current vendor acquired a half share in the Bentley, becoming its outright owner in 2011.
This Speed Six has been sparingly used over the last few years but is expected to be freshly serviced by the time of sale. Accompanying documentation consists of old-style FIA papers (dated 1996), a copy of the Bentley service record, a UK V5 registration document, and sundry invoices for minor works carried out over the years. A wonderful opportunity to own one of the most desirable of all 'W O' Bentleys, eligible and supremely suitable for a wide variety of the most prestigious historic motoring events.