The ex-Bentley Motors Showroom Demonstrator, The Autocar & The Motor Road Test Car & the first standard Bentley 4½-Litre to be supplied with open four-seater sports coachwork by Vanden Plas
1927 Bentley 4½-Litre Sports Four Seater Tourer
Coachwork by Vanden Plas Ltd.
Chassis No. ST 3006
Engine No. ST 3005
Body No. 1408
Registration No. YT 8262
Presented for sale here is the first example of what can fairly be described as one of the most iconic of all vintage sports cars – namely the Bentley 4½-Litre four-seater standard sports tourer by Vanden Plas. While W.O. Bentley may have been more interested in the production of luxury motorcars, one can’t deny that it was with the more sporting models that Bentley Motors earned the prestigious status that it retains to this day.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then few motorcars can claim to have been more flattered than the Bentley 4½-Litre Vanden Plas Tourer – such is the popularity of the design. A detailed account of the history of this important example can be found in the report carried out by Dr. Clare Hay that is supplied with the car. The copy factory records, also supplied, denote that this car, chassis no. ST 3006, was fitted with engine no. ST 3005, supplied with four-seater sports coachwork by Vanden Plas (body no. 1408) to Bentley’s own order and registered YT 8262 on the 1st September 1927.
ST 3006 is the 6th production 4½-Litre chassis and the first standard 10’10” wheelbase chassis be fitted with sports four-seater body by Vanden Plas. Once completed the car was photographed by Bentley’s official photographer Chas K. Bowers in September of 1927. The 4½-Litre chassis was then officially launched at the Olympia Motor Show in October of 1927. ST 3006, marked as a 1928 specification model, resided in the sales department at Pollen House, Cork St, W1 and was used as a showroom demonstrator and for magazine road tests featuring in both The Motor and Autocar. Although it appears to be a light colour in the early photographs taken by Bowers, by the May 1928 test in The Motor it appears that ‘YT 8262’ had been re-covered in black. Being the earliest model of its kind there were some interesting crossover features such as the modified 3-Litre wings, a feature that ST 3006 retains to this day.
Bentley Motors retained ST 3006 until June 1929, covering over 35,000 miles. Aside from its duties as a demonstrator for the company, ST 3006 was used as somewhat of a test bed for various innovations and features such as the brake servo and single plate clutch are still on the car. Bentley Motors sold YT 8262 to a Mr. H.C. Martineau, a regular client of Bentley who owned, at various points, a 3-Litre Speed Model and a 6½-Litre Saloon by H.J. Mulliner. Martineau ordered a fishtail exhaust and new steering wheel fitted (probably the Bluemel currently fitted) with the car maintained by Bentley Motors. Martineau retained ‘YT 8262’ until 1932 when it was sold to a Mr. J.P. Engster. The service records show that by 1935 YT 8262 was owned by a Mr. G. F. Kennedy, of London, who continued to have the car serviced by Bentley and McKenzie Garages.
The service records end in 1940 when the service department closed down so there is the usual gap in the ownership trail during the war years until 1946 when a Richard Wheatley owned ‘YT 8262’. The car then passed through a limited succession of owners before being purchased by Col. W.A. Howkins in 1952. Howkins took ‘YT 8262’ to America with him and photographs on file show the car stateside, including a shot of racing driver John Fitch at the wheel at Sebring in 1957. The Howkins family retained ownership of the Bentley for over 30 years and ‘YT 8262’ did not return to the UK until the 1980s passing through two owners before being purchased by the current custodians in 2001. Forming an important part of a significant collection of Veteran, Edwardian and Vintage motorcars in the north of England, ‘YT 8262’ has been carefully maintained and has successfully taken part in numerous tours organized by the Vintage Sports Car Club and Bentley Drivers Club, including the ever popular South African escapades.
Offered for sale here then is a significant piece of vintage Bentley history. Chassis no. ST 3006 is the first example of what was to become one of the most popular and sought after sports cars of all time. It benefits from a lifetime of enthusiastic ownership and retains its original “matching numbers” major mechanical components and original Vanden Plas Coachwork. Whilst ST 3006 is a collectable Bentley of some considerable significance, it will not prevent the next owner from enjoying its sporty credentials on the numerous rallies, tours and speed events that cater for Vintage Bentleys.
Inspection of the car and the report by Dr. Clare Hay is most welcome by appointment!