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, where 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'.
In effect, the new 4½-Litre model consisted of the chassis, transmission and brakes of the 3-Litre and 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. The 4½-Litre was produced for only four years, all but nine of the 665 cars made being built on the 3-Litre's 'Long Standard', 10' 10"-wheelbase chassis.
According to Clare Hay's authoritative work, 'Bentley: The Vintage Years', chassis number 'NT3137' was completed in February 1928 and fitted with engine number 'NT3138'. The original registration was 'UC 4791' and the first owner was one J Binning, who specified saloon coachwork by Gurney Nutting. Little is known regarding the early history of 'UC 4791', until it was purchased as an incomplete restoration project in September 2003 by the current vendor. As a Bentley enthusiast who has owned many WO Bentleys over the years, the vendor was able to progress the restoration swiftly utilising many spares he had accumulated during that time.
The chassis, running gear, and engine were overhauled, the latter receiving a new crankshaft, con-rods, pistons, camshaft, etc. The unnumbered front axle, rear axle, and the steering box, numbered T3021 where all overhauled with replacement components fitted as necessary.
Sporting original Weymann type open four-door coachwork, (previously fitted to another 4½-Litre), which benefits from a sympathetic older restoration. The vendor choose to enhance the long distance cruising capabilities of the Bentley by fitting a Laycock overdrive and substitution of one of the magnetos for a distributor/coil arrangement.
The restoration was completed in time for the 2007 touring season, the Bentley's first outing being on that year's New Zealand Tour. Since then it has completed a further two New Zealand Tours and participated in three South Africa Tours, 'Europe by Bentley', and the Spain/Portugal Tour. Sold only on account of the vendor's advancing years, the car is offered with sundry restoration invoices and a V5C Registration Certificate.