Courtesy of theoldmotor.com... Gooding and Company is having their annual Amelia Island, Florida, auction a week from today on March 8. This is one of the choice lots from the sale that we have chosen to share with you.
With five outright victories in seven short years, Bentley set an absolute standard for a sports car capable of enduring a race as grueling as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The tale of the Bentley Boys and their domination of motor sports marks one of the most legendary periods in motor racing – an unfaltering legend of success. As strong then as now, the Bentley Boys are icons of an era in which war heroes, clad in leather helmets and goggles, became national idols at the wheel of the world’s finest racing cars.
The association between these English playboys and their Bentleys has resulted in one of the longest-lasting fashions in automotive collecting. A Le Mans Bentley is desired the world over, and yet so few real examples exist. This desire, however, is nothing new, and in period just a small number of Semi-Le Mans specifications cars were built for a noteworthy few.
Of all the original Le Mans Spec Tourers, this pre-war Bentley is one of the best, with an extraordinary provenance beginning with an order placed by a well-regarded dealership in Buenos Aires. In an interesting twist, the car returned to the UK after a year and was subsequently sold to Gerald Bevan, a respected and influential Bentley enthusiast.
At that time, MF3153 was bought by Gerald Bevan and, by association, his son Anthony Bevan. With their stable of Le Mans team cars, the Bevans made the decision to significantly upgrade MF3153. With the help of the factory, his friend Tim Birkin, and the Birkin and Couper racing and service workshop, the 4 1/2 Litre was fitted with numerous Le Mans-specifications features. Chassis MF3153 received a stone guard affixed to the radiator and a quick-release radiator cap, as was standard for team cars. A large-diameter rev counter was fitted to the dash – a very rare option. Furthermore, a Le Mans-type petrol tank with quick-release cap was fitted, significantly raising the fuel capacity – something needed for competition, but not at all standard. The Le Mans tank required the relocation of the rear-mounted spare wheel to the side of the car as with Le Mans chassis. Subsequently, it is believed that the fenders were changed to the cycle type now seen on the car.
Most notable of the work carried out, however, was the fitting of the magnesium, or Elektron, blower crankcase, SM3905. As an early blower crankcase, and originally used for display in the Olympia Motor Show Supercharged 4 1/2 Litre, the unique item was a desirable component among the racing shop’s many spares. Furthermore, the 4 1/2 Litre was fitted with the magneto turret out of Bernard Rubin’s own 4 1/2 Litre (HM3187), which was rebuilt as the first “Blower” Bentley. Having originally been equipped with “Sloper” SU Carburetors and other late-production components, including the aluminum sump, MF3153 became the ultimate specification 4 1/2 Litre (un-supercharged).
Chassis MF3153 remains one of the best known and most highly regarded 4 1/2 Litres. Given the car’s early associations, unusual Semi-Le Mans specifications, competition history, and known and notable ownership, it is bettered only through its high-level restoration by the marque’s leading specialists. Furthermore, the car is an ultimate- specification 4 1/2 Litre, making it perhaps the most ideal and well balanced of Bentleys.
To learn more about this Bentley and the fine other cars in the sale, you can follow this link to the Gooding & Company Amelia Island Auction Catalog.