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1927 Bentley 3/4½-Litre Tourer

An original “Short-Chassis” Speed Model with original coachwork and up-rated to 4½-Litre Specification

Coachwork by. Believed Carbodies

Chassis No. LM 1339

Registration No. YF 7602

+44 (0)1869 244 255


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Constructed around the 9’9½” wheelbase “Standard Short” chassis, the Bentley Speed 3-Litre Model was introduced in 1924. Such was the enduring success of this particular model, that they were still being built by Bentley Motors even after the 4½-Litre model went into production. The model is often referred to as the “Red Label” due to the colour of the radiator badge, the longer chassis generally supplied with a blue badge and the hyper-rare super-sports model with a green badge. It was, in essence, a development of the earlier TT-model, of which Bentley had made just over 70 production models for their more sporting and well-healed clients. Aside from the higher compression pistons and twin “Sloper” carburettors, the shorter wheel-base allowed for an overall lighter car with more nimble handing than the longer model. Furthermore, the shorter wheelbase made for a generally more attractive and rakish car and those bodied by Vanden Plas in four-seater form remain one of the most, if not THE most popular and sought-after vintage sports-tourers today.

At first glance, one would be forgiven for assuming that the original coachwork on the “high radiator” Speed Model offered for sale here is by Vanden Plas Ltd. The style is almost identical save for slightly more enveloping wings, yet the service records for this Speed Model Bentley, chassis no. LM 1339, simply indicate that the car was supplied with “4-seater” coachwork. The running chassis was initially supplied to Hillstead Ltd. on the 1st September 1926, but subsequently was re-sold to Henlys Ltd. of Great Portland Street London. The records include a note of the car being on test for the transfer of the guarantee after some work by Henlys. The Bentley was finally supplied by the Henlys Ltd. dealership to the first owner, a Major Hotchkin of Lincolnshire and registered ‘YF 7602’ on the 25th April 1927. It is unlikely that Henlys Ltd. actually constructed the coachwork, but they may well have commissioned the work to a London based firm. There are no Vanden Plas numbers on the coachwork and, regardless the construction differs from their design. Vintage Bentley historian, Dr. Clare Hay, has sensibly suggested that the coachwork could well have been constructed by Carbodies, albeit essentially to a Vanden Plas style, as the wings are almost identical to those found on a Carbodies Saloon supplied to Henlys Ltd. The service records indicate that chassis no. LM 1139 was originally fitted with engine no. LM 1346 and an A-Type gearbox.

From Major Hotchkin, ‘YF 6702’ went to a Mr. McLaughlan of Edinburgh, Scotland in 1930 and then a F. Peate of Oswestry, Shropshire later on that year. Mr Peate appears to have retained ownership of the Bentley, at least until 1935 when the official Bentley service records end for this particular car. It is interesting to note that, although ‘YF 7602’ had travelled some distance around the United Kingdom with just three owners, it is noted as only having covered 13,106 miles when the works service records cease in 1935. This is quite a low mileage, particularly for a Speed Model, and we have sold other examples in the past that have covered nearly double this distance in the first year alone! To this end, if it retained a low mileage throughout The War it would have made a very appealing prospect in the early post-war years when new cars were hard to come by and second-hand cars very much in demand.

‘YF 7602’ re-appeared with the Bentley Drivers’ Club in the early 1960s, when it was apparently “found by Dames – Lumsdaines in 1963.” According to the continuation log-book contained within the extensive history file offered with the car, it was purchased by Clifford Ernest Baker on the 26th August 1966. The file contains invoices for work carried out for Mr. Baker dating back to the late 1960s, including works by Elmdown Engineering. Famous London dealers, Frank Dale & Stepsons, purchased the 3-Litre in 1977 and an advert for the car is contained within the history file. ‘YF 7602’ was purchased by noted Bentley collector, Jack Henley of Kent on the 13th March 1980. Jack Henley kept the Speed Model for some twenty-five years and during his ownership ‘YF’ was treated to a huge schedule of maintenance and restoration works. Contained within the file are a large quantity of invoices from nearly all of the vintage Bentley luminaries of the time including: R.C. Moss, Elmdown Engineering, Blackmore Engineering (Tony Fabian) and Sargeants of Goudhurst, pertaining to works carried out on the Bentley. During the early 1990s a 4½-Litre engine was fitted to enhance the performance of the Bentley.

The current owner purchased ‘YF 7602’ in recent years. By this stage the car had been cosmetically restored, re-painted green and fitted with a new, Vanden Plas style three-piece nickel-plated windscreen. The leather upholstery and carpets were replaced by Julian Taylor. As well as the cosmetic enhancements the Kingsbury Racing Shop fitted a new 4½-Litre power unit with all new internals including crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, camshaft and valve gear. In order to withstand the increased power output a new “4-star” differential was fitted. Although a self-professed Riley fanatic, the current custodian of ‘YF 7602’ has enjoyed some 3,500 miles of trouble free motoring in the Bentley over the past few years and has been impressed with both the performance and the reliability on longer journeys. The car has continued to be maintained by The Kingsbury Racing Shop with invoices on file detailing the works carried out. The Car has been recently re-wired and coil ignition fitted for ease of use with the high compression engine.

Freshly “run in,” this original bodied 3/4½-Litre Bentley, with the desirable and original “Short Chassis” Speed Model wheelbase, is the ideal car for endurance rallying, racing or simply fast road touring. ‘YF 7602” is available for inspection together with the extensive history file that accompanies the car at our showrooms at Bicester Heritage.