1931 BENTLEY 8 LITRE DUAL COWL TOURER
COACHWORK BY LANCEFIELD OF LONDON
Chassis No. YM 5044
Engine No. YM 5044
Silver Grey and Maroon with red leather interior
Engine: six-cylinder in-line, 4 valves per cylinder, 7,983cc giving c240bhp at 3,800rpm; Gearbox: 4-speed; Suspension: front and rear semi-elliptical springs front and rear, friction shock absorbers; Brakes: four wheel drum - servo assited.
Right hand drive.
Within the history of the Motor Industry there are few select names that during their own lifetime have become legendary, none more so than the name Bentley which, still to this day, arouses immense passion and symbolizes the very best of British Craftmanship. During the short span of twelve years between 1919-1931, W.O. Bentley earned a world reputation for producing the ultimate high performance sporting motor car, that proved its reliability and speed by winning the Le Mans 24-Hour Endurance Race no less than five times.
The simple philosophy of Bentley was to provide luxurious high performance transport that was effortless and silent, and no better example of that was the introduction in 1930 of the magnificent 8 Litre model. Despite the shadow of a world economic recession, W.O. Bentley had been planning a replacement of the existing 6.5 litre Big Six and the 8 Litre was basically an enlarged version of the 'Speed Six' model. The new engine has a bore of 110mm (4.33 inches) and the same 140mm (5.51 inches) stroke of the 6.5 litre. A new, lower, deep channel, chassis frame with five tubular cross members carried the engine, the new F type elektron gearbox, and additional stability was provided by mounting the rear springs outside the main chassis members. The 8 Litre was primarily designed to take heavy luxurious saloon car coachwork and when tested by one of the Motoring Journals, an 8 Litre Bentley became the first closed saloon car to lap Brooklands circuit at over 100mph, fully laden.
This particular example was sold new by Jack Barclay Limited in May 1931. Out of the total production run of one hundred Eight litre Bentleys this is one of only six originally fitted with tourer coachwork. A picture of the car very early in its life is shown on page 205 of the book,Bentley: The Vintage Years by Michael Hay.
The first owners name is not recorded but we are told that the car was shared by two directors of a large firm.
According to the factory service records it is noted that this Eight litre has a thirteen foot wheelbase, 5 to 1 compression ratio, a 14/53 rear axle ratio and an F type gearbox. The service records continue until 1937.
During the war this Bentley was stored in the basement of the Jack Barclay showroom in central London.
Following the war the car was purchased by a Doctor in North Wales, who retained the car in original well-maintained condition.
In 1951 the current owner purchased the car from the Doctor and brought the car back down to his home near London. It was then put into regular use as everyday transport to and from his place of work, next door to The Savoy Hotel, where the car was looked after by the doorman. At weekends the car was used in mild competition at Bentley Drivers Club and Vintage Sports car club events throughout the country, photographs on file show the car at Brighton Speed Trials, Firle Hill Climb and Silverstone. It was also presented at the Bentley Drivers Club Concours in Kensington Gardens and is shown in a line-up in Johnnie Green's book.
During the 1960s the current owner, in the quest for more performance, had a special triple carburettor manifold fitted by Mckenzie; at this time twin S.U. fuel pumps were also fitted to supply the large S.U. carburettors.
In 1967 the car was taken out of regular service and bricked up in the owner's garage for safekeeping. After 37 years of hibernation the octogenerian owner decided that he would probably not drive the car again as it is 'rather thirsty and difficult to park'. Remarkably after all those years the engine still turned over and only required a small amount of recommisioning to run again. The 12 sparking plugs were changed:carburettors cleaned out, and a new battery fitted, the engine roared into life, even firing on the magneto side and showing good oil pressure. The owner was overjoyed to see his beloved car running again. The car was taken on a short run and the chassis and brakes felt good.
This surely must be one of the most original examples in existence, saved from the restorers for all these years. It would almost be a shame to restore it although the original leather is now tired and the running boards have suffered from rust, the bodywork still wears its original paint, spare wheel discs and rear dual screens. The car is complete including all its instrumentation, headlights and starting handle, even the original twin carburettor manifold is with the car.
This represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire an original, unrestored Eight litre Bentley tourer, the greatest of them all, in sheer size if nothing else!