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Lot 48

2015   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2015

1927 Bentley 6 1/2 Litre Le Mans Sports

Coachwork by Restored with Le Mans Coachwork in the Style of Vanden Plas

SOLD $1,210,000

Estimate

$800,000 - $1,100,000

Chassis

BX 2416

Engine

BX 2421

Car Highlights

Complete Matching-Numbers Engine, Mechanicals, and Chassis
Extremely Authentic Re-creation of the 1930 Le Mans Team Cars
Touring Coachwork in the Iconic Period Style of Vanden Plas
6 1/2-Litre Engine, Mighty Proven Performer on Epic Alpine Tour
Bentley Club Show Winner Expertly Restored by UK Bentley Specialist

Technical Specs

6,597 CC SOHC Inline 6-Cylinder Motor
Twin SU HV5 Sidedraft Carburetors
180 HP at 7,000 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes
Solid Front Axle and Live Rear Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs and Four Hartford Friction Dampers Front and Rear
Register to Bid

From the Ron Rezek Collection | Veteran of the Colorado GrandRudolph de Trafford, London (acquired new in April 1927 via Hillstead Ltd.)Mr. C. Willis, Basingstoke, United Kingdom (acquired in 1932)Major Jack Bailey, United Kingdom (latterly)Mr. B. Burnett, United Kingdom (acquired 1975)David Ayre, Berkshire, United Kingdom (acquired from the above 2008)Ron Rezek, Ashland, Oregon (acquired from the above November 2008)

Bentley Drivers Club Concours d’Elegance, Oxfordshire, England, June 2010 (Best Restoration)Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance, Forest Grove, Oregon, July 2011 (Dr. Richard Kaufman European Legacy Award)Dana Point Concours d’Elegance, Dana Point, California, July 2011Quail Motorsports Gathering, Carmel, California, August 2011

With five 24 Hours of Le Mans wins, including an unbroken four-year streak from 1927 through 1930, the company bearing W.O. Bentley’s name continues to evoke images of racing glory, mighty performance, and the romance of the open road. While all Bentleys are revered by true driving enthusiasts and collectors today, the 6 1/2 Litre marks the apogee of the company prior to its eventual takeover by Rolls-Royce in 1931. Restored to its present glory, this 1927 6 1/2 Litre Tourer, chassis BX 2416, boasts a story rivaling that of the company itself and the Bentley Boys who built the legend.

As with all great W.O. Bentley-era cars, the legendary 6 1/2 Litre owes its existence to the original three-litre design. Racing success, including the 1924 and 1927 Le Mans wins, quickly drove sales, with buyers soon demanding ever-more luxurious and heavy custom coachwork, resulting in the more powerful 4 1/2 Litre, which in modified form earned Bentley’s third Le Mans win in 1928. While Tim Birkin famously created the supercharged 4 1/2 Litre Blower Bentley, the works’ own uprated 6 1/2 Litre Speed Six cars closed out Bentley’s early glory days with wins at Le Mans in 1929 and 1930 – Bentley’s last until 2003.

While winning is everything in motor sports, it is the degree of Bentley’s superiority to the competition that is perhaps even more impressive. Today, a Le Mans-specification 6 1/2 Litre Speed Six is arguably the most desirable of all Vintage Bentleys. As expected considering their Le Mans-winning cachet, muscular presence, and sheer rarity, collector demand has long outstripped supply. Adding to their scarcity is that a great many early Bentleys were consumed in wartime scrap drives or eventually converted into highly modified racing cars.

Carrying known provenance from delivery to its first owner in April 1927, chassis BX 2416 originally was fitted with saloon coachwork by Gurney Nutting in the Weymann style. The early history of BX 2416 is documented by Alan Bodfish, administrator of the W.O. Bentley Memorial Foundation. While hard to imagine today, an old Bentley carried negligible value by the late 1930s and well after the war years. Accordingly, BX 2416 was eventually converted into a lightweight racing special by Major Jack Bailey, with a lightweight two-seater racing body fitted to the shortened original chassis. By the mid-1970s it was under new ownership, with a rudimentary touring-style body fitted. Subsequently, the Bentley was sold to British Bentley specialist David Ayre in 2008 and then to Ron Rezek the same year. Mr. Rezek, in turn, commissioned Ayre to restore the chassis and mechanical components into a highly authentic 1930 Le Mans-style tourer. Of particular note, the chassis (BX 2416), engine (numbered BX 2421), steering box (numbered BX 2416), and rear axle (also numbered BX 2416) remained together throughout the eight decades since new, matching the factory build specifications.

The restoration was completed in July 2010, with the work and the car’s history documented and depicted in a book containing approximately 30 pages. Soon after the restoration was finished, BX 2416 was awarded Best Restoration honors at the Bentley Club Concours d’Elegance in 2010. While other appearances and awards would follow, perhaps even more remarkable is the performance of this 1927 Bentley on several long-distance classic tours, including two editions of the Colorado Grand. Mr. Rezek and this vehicle successfully met their toughest challenge in May 2014 on a particularly demanding European tour with the Bentley Drivers Club, stretching 3,000 miles from London to Paris, Italy, Monaco, and back. Despite the obstacles presented by formidable Alpine roads, including the legendary Stelvio Pass, Mr. Rezek’s vehicle completed the tour with typical Bentley aplomb.

As now offered for sale, this 1927 Bentley is complete with the aforementioned restoration book and complete specifications. This is a truly thrilling opportunity to acquire not only a proven tour veteran, but also a remarkably authentic, top-notch Bentley that now stands ready to carry you on its next adventure.