Lot 8

2022   |   London Auction

1926 Bentley 3 Litre Speed Model Boattail

Coachwork by Vanden Plas


£250,000 - £350,000


DE 1224


DE 1221

Car Highlights

One of 513 Desirable Speed Models

Known History; Retains Its Original Drivetrain and Body per Factory Records

Previously Part of the Cunningham, Collier, and Bruce McCaw Collections

Only Known Example of This Body Style; Recent Restoration in Stunning Original Colors

Documented by Bentley Expert Dr. Tim Houlding and Fascinating History File

Welcome at RREC and Bentley Drivers Club Events Worldwide

Technical Specs

2,996 CC SOHC Inline 4-Cylinder Engine

Twin Sloper SU Carburetors

Estimated 82 HP at 3,500 RPM

4-Speed Manual Gearbox

4-Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes

Front Solid Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs

Rear Live Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs

Register to Bid

Hans Wurl

Gordon Jeeves, London, UK (acquired new in 1926)

R.A. Driscoll, London, UK (acquired from the above in 1928)

S.P. Griffith, London, UK (acquired from the above in 1938)

G. Campleman, London, UK (acquired in 1959)

James E. Pearce, Kent, UK (acquired in 1963)

Briggs S. Cunningham, Costa Mesa, California (acquired from the above in 1967)

Miles Collier, Naples, Florida (acquired from the above in 1986)

Bruce McCaw, Bellevue, Washington (acquired from the above in 2003)

Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2005)

Founded in 1919, Bentley Motors Ltd. quickly established a reputation for speed, reliability, and exemplary road manners with its first model, the 3 Litre. Equipped with a monobloc engine, four valves per cylinder, and twin spark plugs and magnetos, its mechanical superiority was validated with victories at Le Mans, but was equally at home off the track. Among the 1,613 of these 3 Litres built over a nine-year production run, less than one-third were Red Label Speed models equipped with the 9', 9 1/2" chassis and the higher compression ratio engine. This example, chassis DE 1224, is further distinguished by sleek and believed unique skiff-inspired coachwork by Vanden Plas.

Bentley Motors records show delivery of DE 1224 in July 1926 to Car Mart Ltd. of London, to the attention of Mr. Jacobsen, and fitted with Vanden Plas body no. 1309. Vanden Plas records further describe this as a “2/4 seat Boat body,” indicating a dickey seat for occasional passengers.

The original owner of YP1048 was Gordon Jeeves of London, followed by subsequent owners in and around London, with James E. Pearce of Kent acquiring it in 1963, the car having suffered an unfortunate accident with its former owner Mr. Campleman. Recognizing the historical significance of the car’s unique period coachwork, Pearce embarked on a restoration of the car, which retains its original drive train. During this period of work Pearce chose to replace the damaged chassis frame with a 9’, 9 1/2” chassis - numbered 330 - from a 3 Litre Tourist Trophy model dating from 1923. In 1967, the car was sold to noted American racer and collector Briggs Cunningham of California, as documented by extensive correspondence on file.

This car remained with Cunningham for 20 years until December 1986, when his entire collection was sold to Miles Collier of Florida, in one of the most significant transactions of its kind. Later in 2003, the 3 Litre returned to the West Coast of the US, joining the incredible Bentley collection of noted marque enthusiast Bruce McCaw.

The consignor acquired DE 1224 in 2005, and subsequently hired Bentley expert Dr. Tim Houlding to provide a detailed report with recommendations on how to adjust its presentation for the utmost originality. Sympathetic restorative work was then completed in Germany, including new paint and interior trim, installation of a correct windscreen, as well as a gearbox rebuild and numerous other details. Today, the Bentley is stunningly presented in its original colors of ivory and brown, beautifully offset by the mahogany rear deck, running boards, and dashboard. The beige leather interior upholstery provides a tonal presentation that harmonizes perfectly with the wood trim.

For the past 55 years, this unique and well-documented Bentley has been part of a number of notable collections, always receiving the proper care it deserves. While this 3 Litre Speed Model provides its next owner with miles of touring satisfaction, its unique coachwork will undoubtedly be admired by all who witness it.