Chassis n°: 35
Engine n° 33
One of the oldest Bentley on record
Original chassis and rare tourer bodywork since 1950
Eligible for Le Mans Classic and historic races
In the early 1910s, Walter-Owen Bentley ran a French car dealership in London with his brother. In 1914, he prepared a small DFP (Doriot-Flandrin-Parant) for racing,
including aluminum pistons which were to become his trademark. After the First World War, W.-O. decided to build his own car and founded Bentley Motors Limited on the 10th of January 1919. He developed a beautiful aluminum-reinforced aircraft-inspired engine with an overhead camshaft, a 2,996 cc 4-cylinder engine putting out 70 bhp, associated to an interesting 4-speed gearbox. This is a “long-stroke” engine (149 mm for 80 mm bore) that offers very high torque and is characterized by an incredibly low idle (400 rpm) and by its silent operation. A first Bentley 3 Liter was presented at the London Motor Show of the same year; some parts were not ready in time and were made of wood and in trompe-l’oeil,but the car was already a great success! After the first three prototypes (EXP1, EXP2 and EXP3) the very first production car was marketed in September 1921. Initially regarded as a sports tourer, the Bentley 3 Liter became a genuine sports car when it won the second Le Mans 24 Hours race in 1924. The legend of the Bentley Boys and the Crewe factory was underway. The 3 Liter, the cornerstone of the marque, was built in 1,624 examples until 1928. The car we offer here is exceptional in more ways than one. Carrying chassis number 35, and originally equipped with engine number 33, it was registered XK 3010 on 19 January 1922 in the name of a certain H.-A. Baldwin, residing in the County of Durrey, a few miles from London. From the chassis number, we know that this was the 35th production car built, but more importantly the 40th Bentley ever made, including the few experimental cars.This very early 3 Liter therefore benefits from some rare and interesting features: it is indeed a short chassis (with a wheelbase of 9 ft. 9 ½ in.) lighter than the later Speed, fitted only with rear brakes, mounted on very nice and thin spoked wheels for beaded tyres, and originally fitted with a rather special engine... The big 3 Liter inline 4-cylinder engine has here a Speed-type camshaft, light pistons, and the famous Smiths five jet carburetor. W.-O. Bentley himself stated that this carburetor gave better performance than the two SU’s more commonly found in Bentleys... Mr. H.-A. Baldwin ordered his 3 Liter with a 4-seat coupé body from the respected Wilton Carriage Company. The copy of the factory records that accompanies the car shows a great deal of maintenance and improvements made at the factory, and a list of successive owners up to the early 1930s.It even shows that the car was under warranty from the time it left the factory until 1927! This six-year period shows the production quality of the car and the confidence that W.-O. Bentley had in its achievements. The car reappeared in the mid-1950s, complete to the last bolt, but without bodywork. It was at this time that George Strathdee, a well-known member of the Bentley Drivers Club, unearthed a beautiful and authentic tourer body, this time by Harrison, which had been removed from Bentley chassis No. 90 (destroyed). The car received a full-on restoration (engine, axle, chassis, bodywork) of the highest standard in the 1990s. It left England for the very first time in 2007, when it was acquired by its current owner, a French enthusiast of the first hour. Complete with all its accessories, this very authentic century-old Bentley presents itself to us in incredible working order,while offering remarkable performances that will still allow it to perform well in historic races, notably at Le Mans Classic for which the organizer has confirmed its eligibility (Plateau 1). It is also an ideal candidate to shine in Concours d’Elegance, or to go on a rally “by the road”, with friends or family, in a rare comfort for a car of this generation.