1923 Bentley 3-Litre Tourer

“The Mighty Hood” Bentley

Coachwork by. Original coachwork by Damyon Brothers of Melbourne

Chassis No. 365

Engine No. 372

Registration No. BS 9082

+44 (0)1869 244 255


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We are pleased to present for sale here a fine and original example of a standard long chassis “blue label” 3-Litre Bentley Tourer. Not only is it gratifying that this vintage Bentley tourer has survived intact and unmodified but it is remarkable given a rather eventful day early on in its life – more on that later.

Chassis no. 365 was dispatched from Bentley Motors in rolling chassis form, fitted with engine 372 and sent to a dealer in Melbourne, Australia named A.B. Howlett, who had ordered two other chassis at the same time, numbers 289 and 383. According to a fascinating article written by Russel Tapp, a previous owner of the Bentley, the first owner was reputedly a Mr. O.J. Syme who had Damyon Brothers of St. Kilda construct the four-seat touring coachwork that the Bentley carries today. According to “Bentley The Vintage Years”by Dr. Clare Hay (Third Edition) the coachwork is thought to have had an aluminium bonnet that was “finished bright and then tooled to a uniform finish before application of a varnish tinted green, upholstery to match.”

By 1925 ‘365’ was owned by a Mr. Arthur Lyttle, the Victorian Government printer. At this stage, as was the norm, ‘365’ was fitted with rear wheel brakes only and Mr. Lyttle managed a quite an incredible feat, albeit unplanned! Quoting Russel Tapp’s wonderful article (on file): “Mr Lyttle, drove 365, at the time equipped only with rear wheel brakes, into a 27 ton Melbourne tram. The tram driver apparently “froze” with fright while the tram continued around a corner under full power before becoming completely derailed and bolting up the front stairs of the Town Hall as the passengers clung on like grim death. The tram was a complete wreck. Contemporary newspaper articles recounted, that, after apologising nicely and seeing nobody was seriously hurt, Mr. Lyttle proceeded to drive quietly home in his Bentley. Subsequently half of Melbourne’s roads were torn up so that the radii of all its tramways could be increased as a result of this incident. The public good-humouredly thenceforth referred to “365” as “H.M.S. Hood”, after what was then the largest battleship in the world, and the car was promptly fitted with 4 wheel brakes by the factory.”  

The article goes on to tell as much of the ownership history of “365” as is known, but it is certainly hard to top the story of Lyttle’s calamity. Various well-known figures of the Australian vintage motoring community owned the car at various stages including: Alan Glenn (who owned a supercharged 4½-Litre), Neville Webb who had all sorts of interesting machinery over the years and Ross Barwick, the son of Attorney General Sir Garfield Barwick. In March 1999 Russell Tapp purchased “365’ and registered the car in Queensland. In 2000, he had the engine overhauled and a description of the works carried out is in his article on file. In 2004 “365” was brought to Europe for the Bentley Drivers Club tour of France and then was used by Russel and Jennie Tapp for their personal transport on a trip to Scotland to see relatives. At this time the car was sold, remained in the UK and was registered for the road here. The current owner, who has a collection of significant Bentleys, has used “365” for touring in Scotland and has kept the car on his estate there.

With a fascinating and rather amusing early history, this fine and original vintage Bentley will be the perfect tool for the many events organised to celebrate 100 years of Bentley Motors next year and will surely give the owner one of the best stories to tell at any evening functions.