2022 | London Auction
1929 Bentley Speed Six Sports Saloon
From The Timeless Collection
Coachwork by Freestone & Webb
£700,000 - £900,000
Highly Attractive and Well Preserved with its Original Sporting Coachwork
One of Just 182 Speed Six Chassis Built
Fitted with Matching-Numbers Engine per Factory Documentation
Eligible for a Wide Array of Concours and Vintage Tours
Exceptionally Important and Original Speed Six
6,597 CC SOHC 24-Valve Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Twin SU Carburetors
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
Captain C. Davaynes Smyth, UK (acquired new in 1929)
Frederick James Edwards, Kent, UK (acquired in 1950)
Richard Sanders, Bicester, UK (acquired from the above in 1993)
Current Owner (acquired in 2006)
Temporary UK Import
See UK Registration/Import Status Guide in catalogue.
Introduced in 1926, W.O. Bentley’s 6 1/2 Litre Standard, or “Big Six,” was developed in response to the growing demand for larger and more luxurious custom coachbuilt bodies. In 1925, a prototype was tested on the Continent and while returning across France, a chance encounter with a Rolls-Royce new Phantom prototype, also on test, convinced W.O. to raise his new model’s engine displacement from 4 1/2 to the definitive 6 1/2 litres. Intensive development brought the Speed Six version of the 6 1/2 Litre chassis, debuted at the October 1928 Olympia Motor Show, and uprated to 160 bhp with twin SU carburetors and higher compression. The Speed Six was available in three wheelbase lengths measuring 138”, 140.5”, and 152.5”, plus the Le Mans-specification racing cars – the last of the Speed Six line.
Naturally applied to racing in the Bentley tradition, the Speed Six proved dominant, sweeping the first four places at Le Mans in 1929 and scoring 1-2 there in 1930. The mighty Speed Six was also highly effective on the high banking at Brooklands, winning the legendary 500-mile race three times straight from 1929 to 1931, cementing the Bentley legend forevermore. Just 182 Speed Six chassis were built in all and, in addition to their rarity, they are particularly admired by Bentley experts and owners for their abundant, turbine-like power delivery and brilliant racing legacy.
The most discerning and enthusiastic owner-drivers of the era selected the Speed Six for their personal transportation and many of the world’s finest custom coachbuilders of the era applied their artistry to the Bentley chassis. Highly ranked among them was Freestone & Webb of Willesden, northwest London, a short distance from Bentley’s Cricklewood works. Established in 1923, Freestone & Webb were leading British exponents of the unique fabric body construction system introduced in 1921 by Charles Weymann’s Carrosserie Weymann of Paris.
Carrying exceptional originality, this Speed Six, chassis FR2644, is a wonderful example of Weymann’s patented body-construction process. Built on the short-wheelbase chassis, FR2644 is one of 121 Series 2 chassis and features the handsome “Six Light” Sports Saloon body style by Freestone & Webb. Documented and depicted in marque expert Michael Hay’s definitive book, Bentley: The Vintage Years 1919–1931, FR2644 was equipped new with engine no. FR2648, registered UV 1928, and delivered in July 1929 to Captain C. Davaynes Smyth.
The next documented keeper of FR2644 was Bentley Drivers Club (BDC) member Frederick James Edwards of Kent, who joined the Bentley’s roster in September 1950. The rare Speed Six was an obvious pride and joy for Mr. Edwards, who ensured it remained in very well-maintained and highly original condition throughout his ownership, which included a documented outing with the BDC contingent in attendance at the Vintage Sports Car Club (VSCC) Goodwood meeting in 1955. The successor to Mr. Edwards was Richard Sanders of Bicester, who took ownership in August 1993 via a classic vehicle dealer in Sussex. According to Mr. Hay’s 1997 update of his vintage Bentley text, FR2644 still retained its original Weymann-type body and individually numbered Elektron deck (running) boards at that time. An early promotional photo of FR2644 also appears in the 1999 book, Halcyon Days: Recollections of Vintage Motoring, wherein it evoked memories of a similar car sighted while mustering for military service during the early 1950s by author Rodney Dale.
As offered, FR2644 maintains incomparable integrity, continuing to benefit handsomely from sympathetic preservation throughout its life. Retaining the original Weymann-type Freestone & Webb body, even down to the Rexine covering, FR2644 is powered by its matching-numbers engine per factory documentation. The handsome and sporting Speed Six is highly attractive with its close-coupled, Weymann-style coachwork. The unique body has many attractive features including a peaked-roof valance at the top of the windscreen, two underfloor storage lockers on each side of the coachwork that are accessible only when doors are open, and individual, adjustable front seats, which indicate this car was intended for the owner/driver rather than a more staid Saloon style with a division. Charming details are present on this Bentley throughout, including the original Weymann patent tag still affixed to the coachwork and the beautiful Grebel center driving lamp mounted between the imposing Lucas headlamps.
Unquestionably eligible for the concours lawn and many of today’s most desirable vintage rallies and touring events, this 1929 Bentley Speed Six is accompanied by historical information and even the 1950–1967 logbook. It exemplifies prewar motoring with its wonderful preservation, adventurous looks, and powerful, turbine-smooth 6 1/2 litre powerplant that made the Speed Six the favorite of company founder W.O. Bentley’s legendary motorcars.
FR2644 has been part of the Timeless Collection since 2006 and has been maintained by a professional team in the collection’s workshop. Kept alongside other significant prewar automobiles, this marks a singular opportunity to acquire one of the best preserved Vintage Bentleys.