1928 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre
Year of manufacture1928
Bentley garnered its first Le Mans win in 1924 in its fifth year of existence, and the British marque cemented its reputation for speed and endurance with a string of successive Le Mans wins from 1927 through 1930. Introduced in chassis form in October 1927 at the Olympia Motor Show in London, the 4 1/2 Litre combined successful elements of both the 3 Litre and 6 1/2 Litre models, and quickly established itself as a worthy competitor on the track. Bentley’s epic victory over Stutz at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1928 immortalized the brilliant 4 1/2 Litre model. Offered here is an outstanding 4 1/2 Litre Sports Tourer, justifiably advertised by Bentley Motors as “The British Thoroughbred Sports Car.”
Chassis TX3239 was the subject of a comprehensive inspection in 2010 by highly respected Bentley expert Dr. Clare Hay, in which she describes the chassis, running gear, and body of TX3239 as “exceptionally original.” Numerous photographs document the original stampings throughout the car, including the front axle beam, rear axle banjo and differential housing casting, and the steering box. The Vanden Plas body no. 1486 appears on the original build record and remains debossed into the wooden longitudinal runner of the rear floorboard, and again in a timber ahead of the front passenger’s seat.
This 4 1/2 was sold new to Mr. F. Scott Jopling of Hampshire, England, with rexinecovered Vanden Plas Sports Tourer coachwork. Of the 665 normally aspirated 4 1/2 Litres built, 148 were bodied by Vanden Plas in variations of this sporting design, emulating the cars of the famed “Bentley Boys” and their great success at Le Mans. Mr. Jopling notably retained ownership of this Bentley through at least 1955, having the works install an updated clutch in 1931. Dr. Hay’s report cites Mr. L. Goldsmith as the second owner, who retained possession until 1984. During his ownership, TX3239 spent several years on display at the Bickton Motor Museum, in the UK’s southwest region. After a five-year ownership with Brian Verrall, the Bentley was acquired by Mr. Alan Lampert, who, after rectifying some minor electrical fire damage in 1999, retained ownership until the mid-2000s, when enthusiast George Dragone purchased it and exhibited it at the 2007 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. The Bentley was next sold via respected dealer Gregor Fisken to noted motoring enthusiast Federico Alvarez Castillo of Argentina.
During his ownership, Sr. Castillo treated TX3239 to further restoration by accomplished Argentinean craftsmen. It is beautifully presented in black paint by Jorge Sica with green hides trimmed by Andreozzi, and the most recent engine work was performed by Jorge Anadón. The restoration was completed in time for Sr. Castillo to take part in a 6,000 km drive from Buenos Aires to Machu Picchu in late 2012.
Dr. Hay updated her report on TX3239 in 2014, recording from photo documentation that the Bentley now exhibits sporting upgrades, including a fold-flat windscreen with auxiliary Brooklands-style screens, double-friction shock absorbers on the front axle, a long-range fuel tank, and an aluminum-skinned scuttle. A cutaway, matching that of the driver’s side, was incorporated into the coachwork alongside the front passenger’s seat, and the rear fenders were abbreviated. Additionally, Marchal headlights and driving lights have been fitted, and the mechanical Barker headlight dip system is in place, as specified on the original build record. The distinctive winged-B mascot sits atop the Bentley’s iconic radiator, which is protected by a stone-guard. Acquired by the consignor earlier this year, the 4 1/2 Litre Bentley presents wonderfully throughout, with a canvas tonneau neatly fitted over the rear passenger compartment.
This beautifully restored and well-documented 4 1/2 Litre Sports Tourer is a testament to the glory days of Vintage Bentleys. Its command of the road makes it an ideal candidate for tours and rallies; its striking Vanden Plas coachwork would make it welcome at most any concours; and its pedigree – with original drivetrain, chassis, and body – qualifies it as a fitting centerpiece to any collection. Welcome at Bentley Drivers Club and historic motoring events throughout the world, its next owner can discover firsthand the confluence of elements that solidify the 4 1/2 Litre Bentley as the thoroughbred that it is.