SOLD 01/14

1926 Bentley
3 Litre “Red Label” Short Chassis Speed Model

A Matching Numbers Short Chassis "Red Label" 3 Litre. Matching Engine, Gearbox, Steering Box, and Differential Car with Great Provenance

  • VINAP311
  • Exterior ColorBritish Racing Green
  • Interior ColorDark Green Leather
  • Mileage33485 Miles
  • Engine3.0 Litre 4-Cylinder
  • Engine no.HP376
  • Transmission4-Speed Manual
  • StatusSold
  • StockFJ1491


1926 Bentley 3 Litre “Red Label” Short Chassis Speed Model
s/n AP311, engine no. HP376
British Racing Green with Dark Green Leather Interior

The 3 Litre Bentley is a legendary car that brought Bentley Motors Limited its first Le Mans victory in 1924 and again in 1927. Bentley went on to win Le Mans an additional three times, giving a total of five victories over an eight year period. This is an extremely impressive achievement considering the fact that the company was founded only a few years earlier in 1919. The company existed in this form only until 1931 before being acquired by Rolls-Royce Motors Ltd. These early “Cricklewood” Bentleys are prized for their uncompromising engineering, as well as their genuine competition heritage.

The specification of the 3 Litre is extraordinarily impressive, and demonstrates the genius of W. O. Bentley. The engine was quite remarkable for the period, with overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder, and twin spark ignition. Pent roof combustion chambers and available dual SU carburetors further distinguished the engine, whose block and cylinder head were cast as a single unit for maximum rigidity. The car was available in three wheelbases and three states of tune. Of the 1622 3 Litres built in all, 513 were Speed Models distinguished by twin SU carburetors and higher compression ratio (designed for high speed).

This particular car is an outstanding example in that retains its original matching numbers mechanical components and is one of the 513 Speed Models built. It rides on a 9 foot 9 ½ inch wheelbase and has fascinating documented history, superb integrity, and is equipped with a number of Factory Works Modifications including long skirt pistons, a larger oil sump and larger oil pump. The car was completed on 12 December 1925, and supplied by Beauforts Limited to Sir Harry Warden Chilcott, an avid journalist and sportsman who commissioned a body for this car built by Saunders of Cowes (the same Saunders as in Saunders Roe, the aircraft and boat manufacturer), one of only two car bodies built by Saunders. The other body was also built for Chilcott, and also fitted to a 3 Litre Bentley. Sir Warden Chilcott was noted for his involvement with Sir Winston Churchill.

This car was originally registered YM 1462, a plate that survived with the car its entire life. The car comes with a copy of its original Service Record from Bentley Motors Ltd, indicating that the car returned to the works regularly for service from 1926 to 1933. The factory’s records list the car as a Sports 4 Seater with coachwork by S.E. Saunders and Company as well as repairs and fittings by Vanden Plas. The car was first registered with the Bentley Driver’s Club in 1950, at which time the car was owned by Dr. W. Mayne of Bristol, England. By 1964, the car had been imported to the United States, where it was owned by architect O’Neil Ford in Texas.

The car is now in freshly restored condition, wearing a body built by James Pearce, a well-known coach builder in the United Kingdom. This fine automobile has an extremely handsome body in the style of the period with an open and sporting Vanden Plas trimmed body. The whole car is beautifully restored and sits on 21 inch wheels, retaining its original and matching A-type 6 bolt close ratio gearbox, twin magnetos and twin SU sloper carburetors. This car features its original engine, steering box and drive train components. The car was comprehensively restored and it would be difficult to imagine any way in which the presentation could be meaningfully improved.

The cosmetics are excellent with fully refurbished body, new paintwork, and refurbished original brightwork. The restoration was authentically completed and the paintwork was done to high standards, with virtually no signs of wear or aging since completion. The leather bodywork is excellent and fresh throughout, and the chassis, brakes and suspension are fresh and detailed in appearance as well. The 21 inch wheels are imposing and have been fully restored including the spinners. The car has beautiful Marchal headlamps and the detailing on the car is stunning throughout, with carefully wrought brass accents, red label badge, and leather hood retaining straps. The presentation is period correct throughout, with no modern additions or alterations visible.

The interior is equally well-restored and thoroghly detailed. The leather is fresh in appearance and displays excellent workmanship. High quality wool carpeting has been employed, also fitted to high standards. The wood dashboard is excellent and is punctuated by a full complement of beautifully restored instruments. The car is equipped with folding windscreen as well as Brooklands aero screens. The controls are authentic throughout, including the switch panel (which bears the car’s serial number), steering wheel controls, and center throttle.

The engine is a work of art. The attention to detail in its cosmetic finishes is truly exceptional. Nearly every surface is polished to a mirror finish. Intricate plumbing conveys essential fluids to important looking fittings, and each cylinder has a pair of spark plugs, each of which is operated by a separate magneto. Consequently, both sides of the engine have spark plugs and spark plug leads, which are of course insulated by correct braided cloth. The twin “sloper” SU carburetors are the hallmark of the Super Sports 100mph engine and are very impressive indeed. The Autovac fuel pump housing is visually correct although inside of it is a modern electric fuel pump. The crank handle for manual starting is also in place.

The car starts easily and runs very well. It was recently serviced by Laurence Anderson, a highly regarded specialist of prewar motorcars, who dialed in the fueling and ignition systems so that the motor operates extremely well at this time. The brakes are exceptionally effective and the steering is direct and communicative, albeit not exactly light, as Ettore Bugatti famously observed. The gearbox works as it should, although it requires skill to operate effectively. The clutch brake function works properly as well for downshifts. Mr. Anderson noted further that the castor may require additional adjustment as bumps sometimes unsettle the chassis causing an oscillation from the front end.

This is an exceptional opportunity to acquire a beautifully restored Speed Model 3 Litre Bentley that enjoys superb provenance and retains its original major mechanical components. The original engine, steering box, gearbox, and differential are all original to the car, and have been thoroughly rebuilt to bring it to its present excellent operating condition. The car’s 100mph Super Sports specification engine backed by close ratio gearbox is among the most desirable specifications ever offered on a 3 Litre Bentley, while the comprehensiveness and authenticity of the restoration do justice to this extraordinary motorcar.

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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Fantasy Junction  •  510-653-7555  •  1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608