1921 BENTLEY 3-Litre
Previous long term ownership
Original front axle without brakes
Ready for immediate use
W.O. Bentley’s first car, the immortal 3-Litre was launched in prototype form in 1919 and entered production in late summer 1921, paving the way for the iconic Bentley models produced since.
The 3-Litre had a four cylinder, single-overhead camshaft engine with four valves per cylinder and developed around 70bhp. The gearbox had four forward speeds plus reverse and no synchromesh which required the driver to master the satisfying art of double-declutching. The chassis length was standardised for the early production cars at 9 foot 9.5 inches.
As was the norm with high-quality, low-volume cars of the time, the chassis was supplied without a body leaving the purchaser to choose his own coachbuilder and design.
In a letter on file, Bentley Drivers Club archivist Ewan Getley states chassis no. 29 received engine no. 29 and was built in 1921. The Bentley works built chassis in batches alongside each other and engines were built separately. The engines were then fitted to a chassis as they were completed. Therefore, it is extremely rare that chassis numbers and engine numbers match as with no. 29.
Also rare, is that the car retains its original front axle without brakes. Most early 3 litres had front brakes and corresponding replacement axle fitted in period under guarantee.
Chassis 29 car was registered EP 1823 to a Mr. Arbuthnot-Brisco of Newtown, Montgomery who owned the car until at least 1928 when factory records cease. The continuation logbook on file states the car was a black Tourer. The original body is unknown but club records state it was replaced by a Harrison body sometime in 1928.
The next recorded owner is Bertrand Hopecutt of Wolverhampton who owned the car in 1949/1950. Three more owners are listed in the continuation logbook until 1976 when the Bentley was sold as a non-running chassis but still with its original engine (no. 29) by Coys of Kensington to Stig Anderson of Sweden. We suspect it was at this time the car received its current coachwork, a replica body of the famous Bentley factory demonstrator. Ewart & Sons Ltd. of Camden rebodied the demonstrator with coachwork identical to the three 1922 team cars being built alongside it for the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy.
A Bentley Driver’s Club review from 1981 records the completed no. 29’s first public outing in Stockholm in December 1980 where Stig Anderson attended a winter gathering of Bentleys in the Swedish capital. In 1982 Stig heroically drove no. 29 from Sweden to Gstaad to attend the second Swiss Bentley meeting.
On Stig’s passing the car was acquired by another Swedish enthusiast and engineer.
This important Bentley is now offered for sale after long-term ownership. Not seen in the UK for over forty years, and over 100 years old, this matching numbers early example is in excellent order and importantly is fitted with a counter-balanced crankshaft and new conrods. Today, on the button and ready to enjoy once more.