1929 Bentley 6½ – Litre Sunshine Coupé

Fitted under guarantee with a Speed Six Engine by Bentley Motors

Coachwork by. Motor Bodies Newcastle Ltd.

Chassis No. WT 2271

Engine No. SB 2762

Registration No. UP 2224

+44 (0)1869 244 255

info@robertglover.com

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Stylish, versatile and imposing this superb Bentley 6½-Litre model carries its original Sunshine Coupé coachwork by Motor Bodies Newcastle Ltd. and the same Speed Six engine that was fitted by Bentley Motors under guarantee in 1930. It is a fine and original example of just the type of luxury sporting car that W.O. Bentley himself was interested in producing. Offered for sale directly from a discerning private collection, we are delighted to present this marvellous “Big-Six” for sale during the Bentley marque’s centenary year.

Copy service records on file indicate that this 6½-Litre Bentley, chassis no. WT 2271 was ordered new by Frank Scott Ltd. of Newcastle, the main Bentley agents in the North-East of England. The running chassis was completed on the 1stDecember 1928 and on the 6thDecember despatched to Motor Bodies Newcastle Ltd. to bit fitted with coachwork. The service records denote the coachwork as a “drophead coupéwith dickey,” however, in the accompanying report on chassis no. WT 2271 by Dr. Clare Hay, it is explained that the coachwork is not in fact of a drophead coupédesign but is a coupéwith a sunshine roof and thus should perhaps be termed a “Sunshine Coupé.” This coachwork is extremely versatile, in that, in pleasant weather conditions one can lower all of the windows including the rear quarter-light windows, fold open the windscreen and open the entire roof using the Donne & Willans folding mechanism allowing the occupants to enjoy the sensation of open top motoring. During inclement weather, one can enjoy the warm and dry enclosed coupécoachwork.

Upon completion ‘WT 2271’ was sold via Frank Scott to Wilfred Blythe and registered UP 2224, a Durham number that had actually been allocated to the Blythe family in mid-July 1927. The continuation buff log-book from 1946 confirms that the original date of first registration was the 28thMarch 1929. Blythe and his family were the proprietors of a brickworks and owned a string of Bentleys, three 3-litres and a 4½-Litre – a well-known photograph of the four-cylinder cars is included in Dr. Hay’s report.  It appears that Blythe encountered a number of problems with the engine in his new acquisition. The service records note that on the 19thOctober 1929 a new block and pistons were supplied due to problems with oil consumption. Further works to the engine were carried out at various intervals over a c. 12-month period until it was eventually decided that the original engine, no. WT 2273, was no good and required replacement. The replacement of the engine was carried out by Bentley Motors free of charge and under guarantee. The “new” engine fitted was in fact a speed six unit, no. SB 2762, taken from chassis no. KR 2700, a car that had been broken up after a fire. This engine proved far more successful and remains in the car to this day. Interestingly, despite the fact that the engine is ostensibly the Speed-Six motor from chassis no. KR 2700, the crankcase is a late 1930 type. The in-depth explanation of the engine that was fitted to ‘WT 2271’ by Bentley Motors is best explained by Dr. Clare Hay reads as follows:

“Clearly though the original engine was unsatisfactory, as on 28 November 1930 Bentley Motors took the matter in hand and replaced the engine, under guarantee (N/C stands for no charge). The new engine was a Speed Six unit no. SB2762, taken from chassis KR2700, a car that had been broken up after a fire. The numbering Stock Engine no.7 is an internal Service Department numbering. SB2762 is an early 1930 specification engine with single port block and manifold, with twin SU carburettors. As seen it is likely that the carburettors are those originally fitted to the engine. The magneto is an ML GR6, correct for the original engine and possibly for engine SB2762 (the Bosch FU6B was nominally fitted from engine KR2700, thirteen engines prior to engine SB2762). The standard Delco distributor for a 61⁄2 Litre/Speed Six is an MRS7, the distributor fitted at present is incorrect. The sump is an aluminium 31⁄2 gallon BM5227 unit, the Service Record for KR2700 mentions this sump but curiously the sump as now has no sequence number to the front, as this has been ground off, and the boss for the plug adjacent to the oil pump base plate is undrilled. A further curiosity is that the crankcase is not the original SB2762, but a very late Elektron Speed Six crankcase as fitted to the Barnato and Kidston coupés and to the works Speed Six team cars, with the crankcase modified for a Bosch rather than a Smiths starter. Speed specification engines have an “S” stamped next to the engine number, on inspection this is not distinguishable, presumably because the crankcase is a replacement when the engine was built up for Service Department stock. The numbering to the crankcase is clearly Bentley Motors’ work. With this new engine fitted the Service Record has a note to the top “Guarantee extended on engine only to 15.11.35. Remainder of chassis as before.” 

The records note that Blythe sold ‘WT 2271’ in the early 1930s, and, although no specific note is made of who purchased the car and on what date, it appears to have remained in the Newcastle area as the last entry on the service sheets in 1934 notes that a set of engine decarbonisation joints were sent to Frank Scott Ltd. After this record in the service sheets there is a short gap in ownership history until just after the war, when both the continuation buff-log-book and Bentley Drivers’ Club records take over from the service sheets. The Bentley Drivers’ Club index notes that in 1946, ‘WT 2271’ was owned by N. E. Egginton. The continuation log-book for the car notes that the Bentley was previously registered through to the 24thMarch 1946 and that the original log-book was surrendered on change of owner and licence renewal. The first entry in the continuation log-book is for the 29thApril 1946 and shows a Reginald Harold Markes, of Harrow, Middlesex as the registered keeper. During 1946 the Bentley was sold by Raymond Way Motors Ltd. of Kilburn to William Atkinson Wolfendale of Harrow, Middlesex and shortly after to a Fred Gibson Wray. In 1952 the car passed into the ownership of Robert Keith Dunham before being purchased in 1969 by Reg Parker.

A stalwart of the Bentley Drivers Club, Reg Parker owned at various times a 4½-Litre Blower Bentley and an 8-Litre Bentley.  During Reg Parker’s tenureship, ‘WT 2271’ was treated to a restoration, this carried out at a time when so many original Bentleys were being converted into “Le Mans” style specials. Upon completion of the restoration the car was shown at the Bentley Drivers’ Club Kensington Park Gardens Concours of 1969 where it rightly won class honours, before appearing at Oulton later that year for the Golden Jubilee together with Parker’s Blower and the 8-Litre. The ‘6½’ remained in Reg Parkers collection until 1983, winning another class victory at the 1979 Kensington Park Gardens Concours, before being offered for sale by William Loughran Ltd. Rather than moving the car on Loughran purchased ‘WT 2271’ for his personal collection where it was to remain until 2003, being a real family favourite and covering many miles with his children in the car.

The current owners purchased the 6½-Litre in 2009. During their ownership a number of mechanical works have been carried out. Being based in California a useful overdrive has been fitted for long distance touring, which works well with the combination of the low range differential. Great care has been taken to restore the original radiator, with the work being entrusted to Paul Russell’s radiator man at a cost approaching $35,000. It would, of course, have been far cheaper simply to replace the radiator, but the owners, both discerning collectors and concours judges in their own right, felt that the radiator is such an integral part of the cars identity, not to mention the shape from which the rest of the body design flows, that it was worth the extra expense to retain the original with the car. ‘WT 2271’ has been finished in all black and the side-mounted spares fitted to a much sturdier bracket at the rear of the car. It otherwise remains much the same as the early photographs of the car, kindly supplied by Dr. Hay.  Many touring miles have been completed in WT 2271 and the car has been enjoyed on the famous Pebble Beach Tour D’Elegance, with the roof open and the dickey-seat occupied, making full use of the versatile design of the coachwork.

This magnificent Bentley remains original when so many have been destroyed. It represents the true ideals of what W.O. Bentley aimed to produce – a fine luxury sporting motorcar, designed and built without compromise and regardless of cost. ‘WT 2271’ has enjoyed a number of long-term owners over its life and perhaps most importantly a number of true enthusiast Bentley owners and discerning collectors who have seen the value and joy in maintaining a ‘Big Six’ in its original form. A superb owner/driver six-cylinder Bentley, ‘WT 2271’ is ideally suited to long distance touring in any weather and most welcome at any of the centenary celebration events. The comprehensive report by Dr. Clare Hay is available on request and viewing of the car in our showrooms is most welcome. A truly collectable Bentley, we are proud to have been entrusted with its sale.

 

N.B. We are most grateful to Dr. Clare Hay for the use of the historic photographs of ‘WT 2271’