1925 Bentley 3 Litre
Year of manufacture1925
Engine number1055 SS
Offered from 60-year ownership
1925 Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model Tourer
Coachwork by Vanden Plas
Registration no. YM 2271
Chassis no. 1224
Engine no. 1055 SS
With characteristic humility 'W O' was constantly amazed by the enthusiasm of later generations for the products of Bentley Motors Limited, and it is testimony to the soundness of his engineering design skills that so many of his products have survived. From the humblest of beginnings in a mews garage off Baker Street, London in 1919 the 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. Bentley's domination at Le Mans in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930 is legendary, and one can only admire the Herculean efforts of such giants as Woolf Barnato, Jack Dunfee, Tim Birkin and Sammy Davis, consistently wrestling the British Racing Green sports cars to victory.
W O Bentley proudly unveiled 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. Bentley's four-cylinder 'fixed head' engine incorporated a single overhead camshaft, four-valves per cylinder and a bore/stroke of 80x149mm. Twin ML magnetos provided the ignition and power was transmitted via a four-speed gearbox with right-hand change. The pressed-steel chassis started off with a wheelbase of 9' 9½" then adopted dimensions of 10' 10" ('Standard Long') in 1923, the shorter frame being reserved for the TT Replica and subsequent Speed Model. Rear wheel brakes only were employed up to 1924 when four-wheel Perrot-type brakes were introduced.
In only mildly developed form, this was the model that 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) on the existing 9' 9½" wheelbase, short standard chassis. Identified by the Red Label on its radiator, the Speed Model differed by having twin SU 'sloper' carburettors, a higher compression ratio, different camshaft and the close-ratio A-type gearbox, the latter being standard equipment prior to 1927 when the C-type 'box was adopted. These engine changes increased maximum power from the standard 70 to 80bhp and raised top speed to an impressive 90mph. Other enhancements included the larger (11-gallon) fuel tank and (usually) André Hartford shock absorbers. Bentley made approximately 1,600 3-Litre models, the majority of which was bodied by Vanden Plas with either open tourer or saloon coachwork, with 513 completed to Speed Model specification.
This Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model is highly unusual in belonging to the same owner, the late Mr Thomas Hugh Pasteur, for some 60 or so years, having been acquired in 1959. Even more unusually, it was his first ever car. The Bentley is now offered for sale by his widow.
Chassis number '1224' was completed in December 1925 carrying Vanden Plas four-seat tourer coachwork, and left the Cricklewood factory fitted with engine number 'AP305'. The engine currently installed ('1055 SS') started life in chassis '1046', the first 3-Litre 100mph Super Sports model delivered. This engine was already in '1224' when the latter was acquired in 1959.
'1224' was first owned by Colonel John Fraser Nielsen and by mid-November 1929 was back in the hands of Bentley Motors. A typed sheet on file lists all subsequent owners up to and including Peter MacGregor, who sold the Bentley to Thomas Pasteur. The extensive history file also contains all invoices dating back to 1960 when the engine was rebuilt by Southgate Motors, together with others relating to previous ownership dating back to 1953. Since acquisition the Bentley has been maintained with no expense spared, benefiting from further extensive renovation in the 1990s. Also on file is correspondence relating to the SS engine and trips to Europe; period photographs of various repairs; and numerous copies of magazine articles regarding W O Bentleys, particularly the 3-Litre.
In short: '1224' represents a rare opportunity to acquire a delightfully patinated 'W O' Bentley, benefiting from careful and enthusiastic long-term ownership.