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Lot 159

2018   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2018

1927 Bentley 3 Litre Speed Model Sports Tourer

Coachwork by Vanden Plas

SOLD $693,000

Estimate

$650,000 - $800,000

Chassis

AX1668

Engine

AX1672

Car Highlights

Matching-Numbers, Original-Bodied Car Documented by Marque Authority Clare Hay
Unique Original Features and Argentine Provenance
Class Winner at 2001 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®
Participant in 2007 Mille Miglia Retrospective and 2015 Pebble Beach® Motoring Classic
One of the Finest Vanden Plas 3 Litres Extant

Technical Specs

2,996 CC SOHC Inline 4-Cylinder Engine
Twin “Sloper” SU Carburetors
Estimated 82 HP
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

José Shepherd & Bell, Buenos Aires, Argentina (original selling dealership, acquired new from Bentley Motors)Paul Pinsent, Argentina (acquired circa 1940)D.J. Jenkins, Argentina (acquired circa 1950)Mr. Taylor, ArgentinaEduardo Zantini, Argentina (acquired circa 1955)E. Gomez Ortega, Argentina (acquired circa 1963)Carlos Martelli, ArgentinaJames Fitzgerald McCloud (acquired in 1970)Gerald Lettieri, Rocky Hill, ConnecticutPeter Hageman, Kirkland, Washington (acquired from the above circa 1995)Theodore Reich, Portland, Oregon (acquired from the above in late 1990s)Peter Hageman, Kirkland, Washington (acquired from the above in 2014)Current Owner (acquired from the above)

Grand Prix Sport, Autódromo de San Martín, August 1927, Gourio, No. 3 (believed to have participated)

Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club National Meet, Bellevue, Washington, 1995 (Second in Class)Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club National Meet, Dana Point, California, 1999 (First in Class)Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 2001 (First in Class)Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club National Meet, Monterey, California, June 2004 (Best of Show Prewar)The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, Carmel, California, August 2004Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, Amelia Island, Florida, March 2005Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance, Forest Grove, Oregon, July 2005Mille Miglia Retrospective, May 2007, T. Reich/D. Reich, No. 24Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club National Meet, Stevenson, Washington, 2007 (First in Class)Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance, Forest Grove, Oregon, July 2007Kirkland Concours d’Elegance, Kirkland, Washington, September 2007Pebble Beach® Motoring Classic, August 2015

Among the handful of very special Bentleys exported to Argentina in period, chassis AX1668 and its sister car, AX1669, were ordered new by José Shepherd & Bell of Buenos Aires and were uniquely outfitted to the specifications of noted Argentine racing driver Eric Forrest Greene’s 3 Litre.

The example offered here, AX1668, is a late Speed Model, featuring the desired C gearbox, “sloper” SU carburetors, a fitted radiator stone guard, and various chassis and engine refinements. The Bentley’s initial order dictated that the 9-foot, 9 1/2" chassis be fitted with four-seater Sports Tourer coachwork by Vanden Plas, featuring the graceful “elephant tusk” extended windscreen irons of Forrest Greene’s car.

These long, curving windscreen posts created a wonderful aesthetic, with aluminum paneling extending far past the bonnet, and the remainder of the body covered in fabric, as with the Le Mans team cars.

Unfortunately, Argentine ownership records for AX1668 and AX1669 are scant, and while early photographs survive, the two cars are indistinguishable in black and white. Nevertheless, on August 18, 1927, two 3 Litres took part in the Grand Prix Sport at the Autódromo de San Martín. The winning car was that of Forrest Greene, and the second was either AX1668 or AX1669.

The first recorded owner of AX1668 was Paul Pinsent, and a charming photograph of the Bentley with Pinsent’s children shows the 3 Litre was fitted with Marchal headlamps with cross bracing, a feature still present on the car. Presumably at this time, the original gas tank was enlarged and the spare wheel was moved to the passenger side.

The Bentley was eventually acquired by E. Gomez Ortega, circa 1963. Photographs during Mr. Ortega’s ownership show AX1668, now finished in green, retaining the Marchal headlamps and enlarged fuel tank.

The car then passed to James Fitzgerald McCloud, the IKA Renault president, who eventually exported the Bentley to the US. Seeking to own his first Vintage Bentley, Peter Hageman came across AX1668. Enamored with its quality, he sold nearly all his other collector cars to obtain it.

In the late 1990s, Portland, Oregon, enthusiast Theodore Reich acquired AX1668 and began a complete restoration of the car. Much of the work was entrusted to noted Bentley restorer Jeff McDonald of Canby, Oregon.

The restoration’s intent was perfection, with an emphasis on keeping AX1668’s originality and adhering to as-delivered specifications, while the enlarged fuel tank, side spare, and Marchal headlamps were retained as part of the car’s heritage. During the restoration, the coachwork was found to be largely original. Notably, the Vanden Plas body number was stamped on the underside of the windscreen iron and on the original floorboards (which also retain their original linoleum covering).

The original engine and other mechanicals were rebuilt. The car was correctly re-trimmed in green leather, and the body was covered with green fabric. Additionally, a new bonnet was made, but the original, numbered unit accompanies the car.

In 2001, chassis AX1668 won First in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®. It was then returned to the restoration shop to bring it to an even higher standard. The 3 Litre went on to win Best of Show Prewar at the RROC National Meet in 2004, along with many other accolades. Not just a show car, this Bentley was driven regularly, and in 2007, the 3 Litre completed the Mille Miglia Retrospective. Mr. Reich and subsequent owners have maintained AX1668 at a very high level since its restoration, and the car is said to have performed flawlessly on the 1,500-mile 2015 Pebble Beach® Motoring Classic.

Since 2016, AX1668 has been part of a very significant collection of sports and racing cars. It represents one of the finest examples of the model and the marque, offering an ideal chassis specification, original and desirable Vanden Plas Sports Tourer coachwork, and matching numbers documented by Bentley expert Clare Hay.

The Bentley has been the recipient of a superb restoration, and it has won notable concours awards. Some regard the Vanden Plas 3 Litre as Bentley in its purest form. It would be difficult to find a finer example than AX1668.