1926 Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model Tourer Chassis no. PH1475 Engine no. LT1586

1926 Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model Tourer Registration no. BM 8287 Chassis no. PH1475 Engine no. LT1586 •Registration 'BM 8287' originally on the first ever Bentley, 'EXP 1' •Originally a saloon by Brainsby's of Peterborough •Last re-bodied in the 1960s •Present family ownership since circa 1972 •Well documented ownership history from new •Hay Report available Footnotes: With characteristic humility 'W O' was constantly amazed by the enthusiasm of later generations for the products of Bentley Motors Limited, and it is testimony to the soundness of his engineering design skills that so many of his products have survived. From the humblest of beginnings in a mews garage off Baker Street, London in 1919 the Bentley rapidly achieved fame as an exciting fast touring car, well able to compete with the best of European and American sports cars in the tough world of motor sport in the 1920s. Bentley's domination at Le Mans in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930 is legendary, and one can only admire the Herculean efforts of such giants as Woolf Barnato, Jack Dunfee, Tim Birkin and Sammy Davis, consistently wrestling the British Racing Green sports cars to victory. W O Bentley proudly unveiled the new 3-litre car bearing his name on Stand 126 at the 1919 Olympia Motor Exhibition, the prototype engine having fired up for the first time just a few weeks earlier. Bentley's four-cylinder 'fixed head' engine incorporated a single overhead camshaft, four-valves per cylinder and a bore/stroke of 80x149mm. Twin ML magnetos provided the ignition and power was transmitted via a four-speed gearbox with right-hand change. The pressed-steel chassis started off with a wheelbase of 9' 9½' then adopted dimensions of 10' 10' ('Standard Long') in 1923, the shorter frame being reserved for the TT Replica and subsequent Speed Model. Rear wheel brakes only were employed up to 1924 when four-wheel Perrot-type brakes were introduced. In only mildly developed form, this was the model that was to become a legend in motor racing history and which, with its leather-strapped bonnet, classical radiator design and British Racing Green livery, has become the archetypal Vintage sports car. Early success in the 1922 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, when Bentleys finished second, fourth, and fifth to take the Team Prize, led to the introduction of the TT Replica (later known as the Speed Model) on the existing 9' 9½' wheelbase, short standard chassis. Identified by the Red Label on its radiator, the Speed Model differed by having twin SU 'sloper' carburettors, a higher compression ratio, different camshaft and the close-ratio A-type gearbox, the latter being standard equipment prior to 1927 when the C-type 'box was adopted. These engine changes increased maximum power from the standard 70 to 80bhp and raised top speed to an impressive 90mph. Other enhancements included the larger (11-gallon) fuel tank and (usually) André Hartford shock absorbers. Bentley made approximately 1,600 3-Litre models, the majority of which was bodied by Vanden Plas with either open tourer or saloon coachwork. The accompanying illustrated report, compiled by leading marque authority, Dr Clare Hay, and incorporating copies of factory records, reveals that chassis number 'PH1475' was built as a 1926 model 3-Litre on the 9' 9½' wheelbase chassis with the Speed Model specification engine. An AT rev counter was the only departure from standard specification. The Service Record notes various alterations made later and a change of chassis frame and front axle in May 1929, the reconditioned frame fitted being that from chassis '20'. As recorded in the Service Record, the original engine is numbered 'SR1404' and is a 1926 specification unit with one-piece sump, twin SU G5 'sloper' carburettors, and twin ML magnetos. The Service Record also notes a new cylinder block with SU HVG5 vertical carburettors fitted in 1933. 'PH1475' was originally bodied as a saloon by Brainsby's of Peterborough, as depicted in The Autocar edition of 30th July 1926. The registration allocated was 'WU 3989', a West Yorkshire number, and the sale was probably handled by Bassett Motors Ltd of Doncaster through Central Garage Ltd of Bradford, Bentley's Yorkshire agents. The Bentley was first owned by one J Wightman Jnr of Louth, Lincolnshire, who was followed in January 1927 by a Tom Clayton of Bradford. Clayton had a low-ratio final drive fitted together with a double silencer system, and had the car re-bodied as a Weymann saloon by Albany Carriage Co. By April 1930 'PH1475' belonged to a P T Dines of Smithfield, London. In November 1933 the chassis and engine were overhauled and modernised. It is likely that 'PH1475' belonged to Bentley Motors (1931) Ltd's Service Department, which bought in and reconditioned old Bentleys for resale, often re-bodying them, in this with a new drophead coupé body by Corsica, a North London coachbuilder with close links to the Service Department. The chassis was rebuilt to 1928 specification with a new cylinder block with vertical SU carburettors; 5.50x20' wheels; low geared steering; a C-type gearbox; and a Spicer propshaft. Comprehensively updated, the car was sold to a J H Turner of Sevenoaks, Kent. No records exist for the war years. The next recorded owners are F R Cowell (July 1947), D N Stevens (1958) and R Gervais Ford (1961). Gervais Ford removed the body and sold the chassis to John Brogden, who fitted a new Vanden Plas-style four-seater tourer body with blade wings (see BDC Review, October 1968). In 1966 Brogden sold the Bentley to Ann Knights and it was subsequently owned by R E Roberts (1970) and Michael A Ross (1971). By this time the original engine 'SR1404' had been removed and a replacement engine ('LT1586') installed. Ross re-registered the car as 'BM 8287' (the registration from chassis '20') and claimed that identity. (The registration 'BM 8287' is also historically significant as being that originally assigned to the very first Bentley motor car of 1919, chassis 'EXP 1'.) Dr Hay: 'By continuous history this car is PH1475 and not chassis 20. It should be appreciated that Bentley Motors regarded the chassis frame as a service replacement item and that the identity follows the history of the car and not any component part.' The current vendor's father bought 'BM 8287' circa 1972 to compliment his 4½-Litre Bentley ('TY 4015') and the car has been enjoyed by three generations of the family for the last 50 years. Its usage has included the BDC Anniversary trips to Le Mans and Aubusson in 1980 and 1984, both of which the vendor attended, and the same trip in 1993 when the family took both 'TY 4015' and 'BM 8287' accompanied by Colin Brown, who had worked at Hofmann & Mountfort of Henley and carried out general maintenance to both cars. 'BM 8278' has been used regularly by the family, frequently attending VSCC and BDC race meetings and taking part in the Bentley Parade at BDC Silverstone. The car also featured in an episode of Midsomer Murders and there are pictures online of it in the garage in The Da Vinci Code (2006) but it seems that scene did not make the final edit. Prior to sale, BM 8287 has been serviced and lightly recommissioned by marque specialist Ewen Getley of Kingsbury Racing. Works carried out included the fitment of new magnetos, replacement of the gearbox oil and drain plug, inspection of the rear axle including new oil and repacking of the bearings. The brakes were checked and adjusted and the engine timing was checked. A new battery was also fitted along with new mounting bolts. For further information on this lot please visit Bonhams.com