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    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 / #Bentley /
    Price £1050 (chassis only, #1923 )
    Max power 70bhp
    Max torque n/a
    0-60mph n/a
    Top speed 80mph
    Mpg 15-22

    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.

    SUMMARY

    EXTERIOR Eminently presentable; hood looks almost new
    INTERIOR 15-year-old hide is just right
    MECHANICALS Drives sweetly; needs nothing

    VALUE ★★★★★★★★✩✩

    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!
    • According to BDC (Bentley Drivers Club) records #Bentley-3-Litre #Bentley chassis no. 689 was sold through Henry Garner to Norman Bayliss from WolveAccording to BDC (Bentley Drivers Club) records #Bentley-3-Litre #Bentley chassis no. 689 was sold through Henry Garner to Norman Bayliss from Wolverhampton in July #1924 . The chassis was fitted with engine number 683 and carried a 4-seater body by Sievwright of Wolverhampton, the only Bentley to be bodied by that firm. The car was to standard spec (single Smiths carb and low (4.3:1) compression) on a 10’ 10½” wheelbase chassis. The registration number was E 9646 which it retains to this day. The records add that early in its life high compression pistons were fitted and in late 1926 ownership had transferred to J.K. Brown from Dudley and the service record ends in November 1929.

      The first time the car was registered with the BDC was in 1956 when owned by Major A.J. Ayres RE from Stourport and he kept the car until 1957 until ownership was with Mr. T. Russell from Dursley. By 1959 he recorded the car with the BDC as being an open tourer still with engine 683. Mr. Russell kept the car until 1976 when it came into the possession of Mr Martin Johnson and a Mr Mulvaney. Paperwork accompanying the car dating from March 1976 state that the engine was completely rebuilt about this time. The car then passed to well-known North West collector/dealer and long-time friend of Martin Johnson; Stephen Pilkington.

      The car was advertised for sale in 1979/80, of note an advert in Motor Sport for August 1979 states the car was laid up for some time but that it had won a concours event in 1978. It also stated again that the car still had its original body fitted.

      Clive Rides from Weston-Super-Mare bought the Bentley in 1981 and had Swindon-based vintage car specialists DH Day carry out various maintenance and repairs between 1981 and 1983 including exhaust system and engine work. This included checking and repairing oil leaks and various other mechanical works and installing a new hood and tonneau cover.

      In 1983 ownership was Jeffery Jacobson of Englefield Green in Surrey who not only used DH Day for maintenance work but also Hofmann & Mountfort of Henley on Thames who carried out an extensive mechanical overhaul in 1985 including engine work, rear axle rebuild and clutch and brake overhaul. Later in 1985 Jacobson shipped 689 to Connecticut USA and had the coachwork restored in 1986/7.

      Mr Gil Landy from Lymm, Cheshire owned the car by July 1998 and it had returned to the UK. Once again DH Day was called upon for sundry parts and John Ambler of Bingley, Yorkshire carried out mechanical work including brake and clutch rebuilds and exhaust system repairs.

      In late 1998 The Vintage Workshop removed the body to repair and strengthen front timber hoop, also repairing the bonnet, the rear of the body, the wings and wooden frame before preparing the car for paint. In early 1999 The Vintage Workshop painted the body and Plus 4 of Stockport, Cheshire completely re-trimmed the interior from brown to red leather as well as fitting a new hood and tonneau.

      Interim works were carried out by Elmdown Engineering of Hungerford, Berkshire such as fitment of an overdrive unit was also fitted along with a Kenlowe electric fan for improved cooling. In 2004/2005 the engine was once again rebuilt by Sports Motors (Bentley) of Disley Cheshire with (so we are informed) the fitment of the desirable combination of Phoenix crank and conrods (the removed components do accompany the car in addition to a set of beaded edge wheels). Elmdown continued to maintain the car and in June 2010 they completed further modifications to make the car easier to live with including an Alternator and Ammeter, conversion to Borg & Beck clutch and ZF Power Steering.

      In the hands of the current keeper since October 2012, this lovely 3 Litre has been sparingly used but regularly run hence the decision to sell. Recent expenditure has included a new battery, rebuilt Magneto, repaired clock and replacement condenser and on test drive it performed admirably. With the ‘mod cons’ this 3 Litre makes great sense, looks the part, has a generous history file and is ready to inspect by appointment.
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