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Lot 27

2016   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2016

1927 Bentley 3 Litre Speed Model Sports Tourer

Coachwork by Vanden Plas

SOLD $676,500

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 Argentinian Provenance
2001 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® Class Winner
2007 Mille Miglia and 2015 Pebble Beach® Motoring Classic Participant
One of the Finest Vanden Plas 3 Litres Extant

Technical Specs

2,996 CC SOHC Inline 4-Cylinder Engine
Twin “Sloper” SU Carburetors
82 HP
4-Speed Manual “C” Gearbox
4-Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes
Solid Front Axle and Live Rear Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs and Friction Dampers
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 1970)Gerald Lettieri, Rocky Hill, ConnecticutPeter Hageman, Kirkland, Washington (acquired from the above circa 1995)Theodore Reich, Portland, Oregon (acquired from the above circa 2000)Current Owner (acquired from the above)

Grand Prix Sport, Autódromo de San Martín, August 1927, Gastón 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 Valley, 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, Theodore Reich and David Reich, No. 24Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club National Meet, Stevenson, Washington, 2007 (First in Class)Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance, Forest Grove, Oregon, July 2007Pebble Beach® Motoring Classic, August 2015

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

Offered here, chassis 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 “elephant tusk” extended windscreen irons of the Forest Greene car.These long, curving windscreen posts created a wonderful aesthetic, with aluminum paneling extending far past the hood, 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 September 18, 1927, two 3 Litres took part in the Grand Prix Sport at the Autódromo de San Martín. The winning car was that of Eric Forest 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 retaining 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 retrimmed in green leather, and the body was covered with green fabric. Additionally, a new hood was made, but the original, numbered unit accompanies the car. In 2001, AX1668 won First in Class in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® featuring of Bentley. It then returned to the restoration shop to bring AX1668 to an even higher standard. The 3 Litre went on to win Best of Show Prewar at the RROC National Meet and received many other accolades. Not just a show car, AX1668 was driven regularly, and in 2007 the 3 Litre completed the Mille Miglia retrospective.

The current owner has maintained AX1668 at a high level, and after a more recent servicing, the car is said to have performed flawlessly on the 1,500 mile 2015 Pebble Beach® Motoring Classic.

Today, AX1668 represents one of the finest examples of the model and the marque. With its striking presentation, ideal chassis specification, original and desirable Vanden Plas fabric Sports Tourer coachwork, documented matching-numbers by expert Clare Hay, Argentinian provenance and possible period race history, a superb restoration and notable concours awards, one would be challenged to find a better example. Some regard the Vanden Plas 3 Litre as Bentley in its purest form. AX1668 makes a strong argument.