BENTLEY 3 LITRE
Year of manufacture #1924
Recorded mileage 86,142
Asking price £180,000
Vendor Mark Donaldson, Phoenix Green, Hartley Wintney, Hants; tel: 01252 845818; www.markdonaldson.com
WHEN IT WAS NEW / #Bentley-3-Litre
Price £1050 (chassis only, #1923
Max power 70bhp
Max torque n/a
Top speed 80mph
This standard-length 3 Litre from the first year of four-wheel brakes still wears its original body – the only Bentley bodied by Sievwright & Co of Wolverhampton, which was local to the first owner. There are masses of bills from all the usual suspects (DH Day, Hofmann & Mountfort, Elmdown, etc) since 1981, pointing to ongoing care, plus copies of the chassis records.
The body is straight and the doors fit well. The paint was applied in 1998 and 2002 and is still shiny. The plating is all good, though there’s one small ding in the rad shell and the headlight rims have a couple of ripples. Inside, the leather is just old enough to be settling in nicely. There’s a modern illuminated ammeter on the right and a blanking plate on the left where a rev counter might have been. It has full weather gear: the hood looks newish and there’s an Auster-type rear ’screen, too.
The motor is tidy, still wearing its updraught Smiths carburettor, but with an electric fan and alternator. It received high-compression pistons early in its life, plus a new £4250 crank and rods in 2000. The magneto was rebuilt in 2002 and the engine last had valves in 2005.
It starts easily and ticks over unnaturally smoothly – it’s running in the engine photo below – and within 3 secs oil pressure has built to 40psi, where it stays. Flick on the switch for the power steering (yes!) and it’s easy to manoeuvre, but you can turn it off once rolling or if the car feels a bit twitchy. It uses a hydraulic ram working on the drag link, powered by an electric pump, hence the need for a reliable ammeter.
The chassis is supple, with no squeaks or whines from the transmission, the change is nice – up and down the ’box – and overdrive drops the revs markedly. A modern clutch takes another worry out of the equation. The brakes pull it up well, a Bentley strength and, though it’s not a Speed Model on slopers, the performance is quite adequate. This very proper motor comes with all the removed factory parts, including beaded-edge wheels.
EXTERIOR Eminently presentable; hood looks almost new
INTERIOR 15-year-old hide is just right
MECHANICALS Drives sweetly; needs nothing
For Not a VdP replica and all the nicer for it; gorgeous patina
Against Not the sportiest 3 Litre, but that keeps the price down
SHOULD I BUY IT?
If you want a highly usable car that will carry five, the price looks hard to resist. So that’s a yes!