The Ex-Guy Shoosmith 1930 Bentley Speed Six Tourer Registration no. GK 8450 Chassis no. HM2865 (see text) Engine no. HM2867
'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 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 these to Speed Six specification.
According to Michael Hay's authoritative work, Bentley The Vintage Years, this 6½-Litre Speed Six, registration number 'GK 8450', was erected on the 'SP4' (12' 8½") long chassis and originally fitted with saloon coachwork by Gurney Nutting. It is the fifth from last of the 24 long-wheelbase Speed Six chassis constructed by Bentley Motors, and has the lighter and more powerful 1930-specification engine producing 180bhp. The first owner was Sir Anthony Lindsay Hogg. After he parted with the Bentley early in 1932, it was next owned by one A H Sheppard, who kept the car for over 20 years, winning a 'best-in-class' award at the Bentley Drivers Club Kensington Gardens Concours in 1951.
Mr Sheppard sold the car in January 1953 and its next recorded owner, from October 1955, was a Major A Gregson followed by Guy Shoosmith from 1962. According to the accompanying detailed report by Michael Hay, compiled in 2001: 'It seems likely that Shoosmith removed and scrapped the original Gurney Nutting saloon body, possibly following an accident... By May 1964, when the car appeared at a BDC sprint event in Antwerp, GK 8450 had been rebuilt in its present form on a shortened chassis with an open four-seater body.' In the course of the rebuild, the original chassis was replaced with 'BR2357', which was shortened to a wheelbase of 11' 6" and over-stamped with the original number, 'HM2865'. At the same time a new body was constructed along the lines of those made by Vanden Plas for the legendary Le Mans-winning Bentley team cars. Hay notes that the car had been fitted with hydraulic brakes and the D Type close-ratio gearbox from a 4½-Litre, while retaining its original differential casing and various other original parts, including the steering column. 'GK 8450' is pictured in Hay's Bentley: The Vintage Years in its original form and as it now is in Bentley: 50 Years of the Marque by Johnny Green.
Shoosmith kept the Speed Six until 1999, during which time it made many appearances at major events at Silverstone including the 1969 British Grand Prix parade with W O Bentley himself as passenger. 'GK 8450' was next owned by Dutch Bentley Collectors' Paul Veenhuijzen and then Dirk Lindenbergh, and is currently registered in Holland. Offered with a history file containing copies of correspondence, rebuild notes, press cuttings and factory records, this magnificent Bentley Speed Six has to be the ideal acquisition for the enthusiast driver wishing to undertake long-distance rallies and touring events in true Vintage style.