2022 | London Auction
1932 Bentley Eight Litre Sports Tourer
From The Timeless Collection
Coachwork by In the Style of Vanden Plas
£750,000 - £1,000,000
One of Just 100 Bentley Eight Litre Models Built
Configured for Optimal Performance with the Short-Wheelbase Chassis and Le Mans-Style Tourer Coachwork
Phenomenal Attention to Detail in Traditional Colors
W.O. Bentley’s Swan Song and Considered by Many His Grandest Achievement
An Outright Supercar in Its Day
7,982 CC SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Three SU HO8 Carburetors
220 BHP at 3,500 RPM
4-Speed F Type Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes
Front Solid Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs and Friction Shock Absorbers
Rear Live Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs with Hydraulic Shock Absorbers
Arthur R.B. Owen, London, UK (acquired new via Jack Barclay in 1932)
Nora Hardy MacCaw, London, UK (acquired in 1933)
L.J. Machell, London, UK (acquired in January 1934)
W.E. Clayton, London, UK (acquired in June 1934)
Miles Rothwell (acquired in late 1934)
G.P. Stanton (acquired in 1936)
Harold L. Good (acquired in 1946)
Stanley Mann, UK (acquired in 1991)
Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2006)
Temporary UK Import
See UK Registration/Import Status Guide in catalogue.
Following four consecutive wins at Le Mans, Bentley introduced its magnificent Eight Litre model at the Olympia Motor Show in October 1930. While early marketing efforts emphasized its broad range of qualities including performance, silence, safety, reliability, strength, and comfort, true to its racing heritage, its capability on the road remained its strongest attribute. A December 1930 Autocar magazine review summarized it as “motoring in its very highest form” and went on to remark that “the dominant note of the new Bentley is its tremendous performance.” Its massive engine incorporated the latest technology, including four valves per cylinder, dual ignition, and a crankcase made of Elektron alloy, and was conservatively rated at 220 hp. A double-dropped chassis reduced height and lowered the center of gravity, and was reinforced with seven cross members. This combination delivered on W.O. Bentley’s desire to produce “a dead silent 100 mph car.” Priced at a lofty £1,850 for the chassis alone, just 100 were built before the Vintage Bentley era came to an end.
Chassis YM5036 completed testing in May 1932 and was delivered to Arthur R.B. Owen through the Jack Barclay dealership in London. As a YM chassis, it was part of the third of four series built, and its as-delivered, 13-foot chassis was originally fitted with Wylder open two-seater coachwork. Nora Hardy MacCaw, who owned several other significant Bentleys including the famous 1931 4 1/2 Litre supercharged “Green Hornet,” acquired the car in 1933, after which it passed through a number of owners in and around the London area. Collector H.L. Good acquired YM5036 in 1946 at which time the car was reported to have traveled just 25,000 miles. Mr. Good modified the car by shortening the chassis to 12-foot specifications, removed the Wylder body, and affixed drophead coupe coachwork from a Hotchkiss on the chassis. He later separated that body for use on a Rolls-Royce chassis with the Bentley chassis placed into storage where it remained until his passing in 1991. Showing 31,000 miles on its odometer at that time, the chassis was sold to marque expert Stanley Mann, who embarked on the creation of Le Mans-style tourer coachwork, a most fitting design for the short-wheelbase chassis. This exhaustive four-year effort was carried out with stunning results.
In 2006, the current owner added YM5036 to his noteworthy collection where it has been enjoyed and received the proper care it deserves. The rakish sports tourer coachwork features a three-door fabric body fitted with dual side-mounted spares. Its body is finished in traditional British Racing Green with matching green hides used on the four-place interior. A black canvas hood folds flush with the body and a matching tonneau can be placed over the rear seats, creating an intimate two-seater appearance.
The attention to detail in its coachwork is evident throughout the body. A full-width windscreen is supplemented with smaller, separate Le Mans screens for both for both driver and passenger. Protecting the stately Bentley radiator is a screen of the same weave pattern as those placed over each Lucas headlamp. Proper leather straps secure the bonnet and, fitted with these details, YM5036 strikes a purposeful stance.
It is estimated that just 80 Bentley Eight Litres are extant today, and each is highly prized not only for its mechanical prowess, but also for its inherent historical significance. These cars marked the end of W.O.’s association with the firm he founded and the high-water mark for Vintage Bentleys. This example represents the ultimate Bentley: a low-mileage chassis configured in the most sporting guise, ready for use on the open road where its performance can be fully appreciated. While the term did not exist in its day, “supercar” in today’s vernacular best describes this rare Bentley, a title most fitting throughout its 90-year life.