1928 Bentley 4 1/2 LitreSemi Le Mans VdP Sports Tourer
Year of manufacture1928
Car typeConvertible / Roadster
Number of doors3
Number of seats4
Original Coachwork by Vanden Plas
Chassis No. HF 3182
Engine No. TX 3231
Registration No. PN903
This particular 4 ½ Litre Bentley is a largely original example with very rare and genuine semi-Le Mans specification.
The car was built by Bentley Motors in 1928 for agent stock - the agent being Gaffikin Wilkinson and Company – and was delivered in March to the first owner, Mr. H.A. Barham of 11 Berkeley Street in London. Mr. Barham perhaps enthusiastic but particular actually ordered Vanden Plas, the coachbuilder, to make immediate changes. We see this on the original Vanden Plas build sheet for Job #1447 as the agent-defined specification has been crossed thru.
Factory records indicate that in Mr. Barham's ownership, on September 2, 1930, a 25-gallon Le Mans-type fuel tank was sent out to Gaffikin Wilkinson for fitting. Le Mans-type cycle-fenders and a fold flat windscreen were also fitted to the car, which are believed to be done very early in the car’s life as one early post-war photo from 1950 shows it as it is today.
Subsequent owners include JBT Brown in 1931, H. Garner in 1932, M. Burnett in 1932, and TL Seccombe in 1947. The Bentley Motors Service Record runs right up to 1939. Sometime later, the original engine was replaced with TX3231 (ex-chassis TX3229 which was broken up in 1961).
The car was stored for many years and was eventually purchased by Chris Wray in the 1980s. He commissioned an extensive rebuild of the car and showed it at the Bentley Drivers Club Concours d'Elegance at Kensington Gardens in London.
Wray also commissioned Clive Oliver to fit new counterbalanced crankshaft and rods and fully sort the car for long distance touring. The Bentley is perfectly outfitted with Sloper carbs, a C-box and has an overdrive fitted. The gearbox itself is fitted with special gears to enable an easy stick-shift change – commonly referred to as a “dog box.” The lighting is by very rare Zeiss headlamps, with additional spot-lamps and altogether the car is superbly outfitted.
Mr. Wray completed several major international tours, including South Africa in 1990 and 1995, The 2,000 Mile Trial in 2000, the BDC New Zealand Tour in 2002 and the Western USA Bentley Tour in 2006, another New Zealand tour in 2008, and the Himalayan Rallye in 2012.
In 2015, Mr. Wray decided to part with his beloved Bentley and the car was acquired by a West Coast collector here in the US.
Today the Bentley remains highly original and retains the desirable Sloper SU Carbs which are serial-number sequenced and match the intake manifold. Furthermore, HF 3182 can be found, as expected on both original aluminum hood sides and the original steering box. Importantly, chassis number HF 3182 can be found stamped in both original locations on the frame as well as the front axle and the original dash-mounted ignition switch. Additionally, the original gearbox is stamped, as expected, on both the case and the lid.
HF 3182 retains its original Vanden Plas Sports 4-seater body (VDP # 1447), and the VdP stamping 1447 can be seen in the expected locations. It was fitted with a genuine Le Mans gas-tank in 1930, sent out by the Works to a main agent Gaffikin Wilkinson in London. It has Le Mans-type cycle-fenders and a fold flat windscreen which were fitted early on in the car’s life. And aside from the engine change, the chassis remains very correct and original. The Bentley, unlike many, is very genuine and has remained intact and largely unchanged for its near 100 years.
Today, HF 3182 has a fantastic patina both inside and out which looks very much the part in its semi-Le Mans spec trim. The car runs and drives beautifully and would make a fantastic tour car as it has all over the world. This is a very special 4 ½ and one of the best we’ve had the privilege of handling.
Please visit hagemanmotorcars.com for more photos and info.