The last 3-liter Bentley produced. Matching numbers, 2019 Clare Hay report, a remarkable example with known ownership and period racing participation.
1929 Bentley 3 Liter Model “Sports” Tourer “Greenfly”
Chassis no. DN1741
Engine no. DN1744
Coachwork by Wylder
For more than a century, Bentley Motorcar Company has set unprecedented standards of excellence, performance, and luxury. Given the advances in modern technology, one might assume that their earliest cars may no longer be relevant in today’s market. Yet a pre-war Bentley continues to remain not only relevant, but also stands as a consummate example of excellence and mechanical fortitude, often occupying a valued position in prestigious worldwide collections. Vintage motoring events, European rallies, endurance rallies through exotic lands and invitation to a bounty of premier concours events continues to attract new interest from a growing range of enthusiasts eager to experience the majesty and alure of a pre-war Bentley.
As part of the ongoing challenge to produce a formidable and sporting motorcar, by the early 1920s Bentley framed their reputation on the traditions of racing excellence. Nowhere was that more evident and rapidly proven than on the daunting motorsports course - the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With their first victory achieved in 1924 as a fledgling car builder, Bentley went on to dominate Le Mans from 1927-1930 confirming not only their capacity for speed and endurance but doing so with poise and reliability – features of great import to wealthy clientele seeking motorcars with both mechanical confidence and impressive presence.
Today, through both corporate and private sponsorships, the Bentley brand thrives with a worldwide host of capable mechanical support and vintage expertise enhanced by a dedicated ownership community and their determined challenge to drive their cars as originally intended. Not surprisingly, values for pre-war Bentleys are rapidly reflecting this ongoing interest with rarely marketed examples being quickly acquired via private sale. Astute collectors continue to seek documented original examples benefiting from legacy provenance and dedicated preservation offered solely to cars retaining the original chassis and rare original running gear.
History of this Example
DN1741 is documented to be the last 3-liter chassis produced by Bentley Motors. This is an important distinction largely because the 3-liter Bentley would distinguish the historic lineage leading up to the legendary 8-liter powerhouse. This extraordinary 3- liter Bentley has been personally inspected and comprehensively documented by world renowned Bentley authority Dr. Clare Hay. In this detailed 2019 report commissioned by the current owner, Dr. Hay confirms this Bentley retains its matching number chassis, engine, and major ancillary components. It is also further distinguished by ownership including two of the most respected Bentley enthusiasts in both the UK and US.
In the 2019 report, Dr. Hay recounts the unique conditions surrounding the construction of this final iteration of the venerable 3-liter including the build as dictated under special order for Miss E. Phillips, a well-known tennis star of the era. Originally designated with chassis HT1644, it was dispatched to Freestone & Webb and finished with a two-seater body. Bentley records indicate the car was assembled with several non-standard features including a steering column set further back, the handbrake lengthened by 3”, and the forward deck board lengthened. Other non-standard features were further installed, and while there is no indication in the Bentley factory notes as to the origin of these changes, it is likely some were dictated to accommodate the owner and her diminutive dimensions. The car was assigned a five year guarantee concurrent with a Bentley factory test run on August 31, 1928. Shortly after delivery, and for reasons that remain unknown, the car returned to Bentley where it was assigned the current chassis number DN1741, given a new body by Wylder Coachwork, presumably on order from Jack Olding & Co. Ltd. a Bentley agent in London. The Wylder body, a three door sports four-seater with a single door to the offside rear and two doors to the nearside, was fitted with full length fenders, running boards, and a raked windscreen. References and later period photographs indicate the body was fabric covered, finished in black, with red upholstery and red fenders. The car was sold to the first owner, W.T. Townend under the London registration UV7549, with mileage recorded on guarantee, issued January 7, 1931, at 13,726 miles. The next assigned owner was Robert Pershouse. Subsequent ownership proceeds through Bentley records and service notations to August 1933 with mileage recorded at 28,695 miles when the engine is decarbonized, and a Spicer prop shaft installed. Ownership then transfers to J. R. Thompson, where, once again the engine is decarbonized, a piston replaced, valves replaced, and engine bored 0.5mm oversize in 1935.
Records documenting Bentley services continue through the early years eventually being purchased by Stuart Wilton in early 1936, who, upon ownership, joined the Bentley Drivers Club in September 1936, making him one of the earliest known members. On October 17, 1936, Wilton would finish 12th at the first Brooklands race. Participating with the B.A.R.C. Wilton would complete the 6.5-mile race in 12th position posting an impressive lap speed of 77.21 mph. In 1940, Wilton sold the car to Johnnie Green who was an avid racer and member of BDC. Green painted the car his namesake color at which time it earned the nickname “Greenfly” no doubt christened due to Green regularly achieving speeds exceeding 90mph at the wheel of this Bentley. Subsequent documented ownership continued through the years including several period photos showing the car in various races including a 1947 BDC race held at Silverstone, and a February 1947 Motor Sport Magazine article.
By 1950 the car was exhibited at the Kensington Gardens Concours, confirmed by the Bentley Drivers Club plaque affixed to the scuttle capping. Though Johnnie Green eventually sold Greenfly in 1952 to a fellow Bentley enthusiast, he never forgot the experience of ownership, recounting his years of enjoyable use as reflected in his 1969 publication “Bentley Fifty Years of the Marque”. By 1956, noted Marque enthusiasts Bill and Ann Klein arranged for purchase through Carl Mueller. Housed in this celebrated collection in the company of several Bentleys including several 4 ½ Liter and Speed 6 examples, DN1741 spent many years in this famous and exclusive Klein Collection before becoming available for sale and featured in 1999 at the Christies Pebble Beach Auction where it was purchased by noted collector and Bentley enthusiast Jack Hilton. The current consigning owner purchased the car in 2017 and has since carefully maintained the car with his private mechanic, a capable UK specialist in vintage Bentleys. Under current ownership, a contemporary overdrive unit was discretely installed which improves highway touring and has recently been serviced.
Today this remarkable Bentley retains the original engine, DN1744 and the “A” type gearbox no. 448, fitted in March 1934, confirmed by Bentley service records, and documented by Dr. Hay. The unique Wylder body, with its impressive, powerful stance and race bred design, is a handsome sporting combination featuring the remarkably original and beautifully aged nitrocellulose leathercloth installed by Wylder from the cowl back. The body is flanked by painted fenders and hood panels finished in matching green reflective of ownership under Johnnie Green where it earned the nickname “Greenfly”. The original frame, original engine, captivating interior, and impressive instrumentation all display exceptional visual harmony in keeping with the patinated character of this Bentley. The arched fenders and black-wall shod wire wheels add to the purposeful stance including a Barker headlamp dipping system, a pivoting accessory road lamp that turns with the steering wheel, a wood toolbox mounted on the running board, and lightly patinated British flags. Competition inspired features include stone guards over the headlamps and ring-pull hood latches.
The interior continues the exquisite theme of stunning beauty with an array of instruments filling the well-appointed dashboard, enhanced by a commanding fabric roped and notched steering wheel, outfitted with engine idle and mixture controls centered in the four-spoke hub. The leather seating has been previously reupholstered but adds a sympathetic quality to the original finishes. The scuttle cap carries a pair of plaques noting Johnnie Green and the Brooklands event under Stuart Wilton’s ownership, as well as a period Ferodo Brake Efficiency Indicator. Opening the doors, the etched Jack Olding & Co. Ltd. door threshold entry plates herald the original selling dealer history, welcoming ample seating for rear occupants.
Under the hood is a brilliant display of vintage engineering, restored to reflect correct finishes and authentic features enhanced by operational confidence. The engine and ancillary components are warmly hued materials featuring copper and brass accents, all of which convey the authenticity and hand-crafted majesty as only a pre-war Bentley can offer. The cast alloy components are impressive and include the original numbered steering column, twin SU G5 carburetors fed by carefully plumbed fuel lines, and wonderfully configured vintage wiring, fasteners, and hand stamped factory numeric indicia. Every piece of hardware is superbly engineered, reflecting the era and splendor of this exceptional 3-liter engine.
The driving experience behind the wheel of this Bentley is quite rewarding. Commanding presence notwithstanding, drivers are soon relieved of the imposing nature and historic heft once familiarized with the operational sequences of this impressive car. Having driven several W.O. cars over the years, we find the engine to be robust and responsive, and driving manners to be very satisfying with each progressive shift, gradually increased speed, and suitable braking. DN1741 is accompanied by a tonneau cover, the 2019 Dr. Clare Hay report and selected documentation recounting ownership, copies of Bentley production notation, service entries, and copies of photographs under various early periods of ownership.
An exceptional original car with known history since new, this Bentley Sport Tourer represents the last of the extraordinary 3-liter series cars and a unique opportunity for a collector/enthusiast to own a car combining undisputed provenance, original chassis, original engine, period racing participation, and premier historic ownership. This Bentley promises rewarding ownership and driving experiences along with opportunities to participate in numerous top-tier motoring events, international concours d’elegance events, and club rallies. For anyone seeking a unique pre-war coachbuilt automobile with documented original features and sympathetically preserved body and chassis composition, this 3-liter Bentley will impress any knowledgeable enthusiast who recognizes the rarity and distinction of these proud and magnificent motorcars.
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
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