1922 Bentley 3 Liter Sports Tourer  Chassis no. 103 Engine no. 109

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1922 Bentley 3 Liter Sports Tourer
Coachwork by Vanden Plas
Chassis no. 103

Refer to department
1922 Bentley 3 Liter Sports Tourer
Coachwork by Vanden Plas

Chassis no. 103
Engine no. 109

2,996cc SOHC Inline 4-Cylinder Engine
4 Valves Per Cylinder
80bhp at 3,500rpm
4-Speed Close-Ratio Gearbox
Front and Rear Leaf Spring Suspension
4-Wheel Drum Brakes with Perrot Shaft Actuation

*Among the oldest surviving W.O. Bentleys in existence
*Long-Term California car since 1960s
*Retaining the original engine
*Eligible for many road touring events, including North American Vintage Bentley Club


With characteristic humility 'W.O.' was constantly amazed by the enthusiasm of later generations for the products of Bentley Motors Limited, and it is testimony to the soundness of his engineering design skills that so many of his products have survived. From the humblest of beginnings in a mews garage off Baker Street, London in 1919 the Bentley rapidly achieved fame as an exciting fast touring car, well able to compete with the best of European and American sports cars in the tough world of motor sport in the 1920s. Bentley's domination at Le Mans in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930 is legendary, and one can only admire the Herculean efforts of such giants as Woolf Barnato, Jack Dunfee, Tim Birkin and Sammy Davis, consistently wrestling the British Racing Green sports cars to victory.

W O Bentley proudly unveiled the new 3-liter car bearing his name on Stand 126 at the 1919 Olympia Motor Exhibition, the prototype engine having fired up for the first time just a few weeks earlier. In only mildly developed form, this was the model which was to become a legend in motor racing history and which, with its leather-strapped bonnet, classical radiator design and British Racing Green livery, has become the archetypal Vintage sports car.

Early success in the 1922 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, where Bentleys finished second, fourth, and fifth and took the Team Prize, led to the introduction of the TT Replica (later known as the Speed Model) on the existing 9' 9½" wheelbase, short standard chassis. Identified by the Red Label on its radiator, the Speed Model differed by having twin SU carburetors, a higher compression ratio, different camshaft, and the close-ratio A-type gearbox, the latter being standard equipment prior to 1927 when the C-type gearbox was adopted. These engine changes increased maximum power from the standard 70 to 80bhp and raised the top speed to an impressive 90mph. Other enhancements included the larger (11-gallon) fuel tank and (usually) Andre Hartford shock absorbers.


Completed on August 4th, 1922, this early 3-Liter Bentley was delivered new to Major Robinson, fitted with rear brakes only and sporting an open Vanden Plas Body in black with a scratched aluminum bonnet over a grey interior. In the subsequent years, the rapid developments and refinements by Bentley to the 3 Liter model were fitted to this car by the factory. In 1923, the original transmission was replaced with no. 156, likely due to the more robust shift forks in the newer version of the 4-speed transmission. In 1924, a four-wheel brake conversion was carried out as well, adding much needed stopping power to the front wheels, and in 1925 the factory installed BHB high compression pistons. The original body, numbered 3194, was removed from the car sometime in the 1930s or 1940s and replaced with the body it retains today, Vanden Plas no. 1261.

By the mid 1960s, after passing through the hands of several British collectors, this 3-Liter made its way to the United States, where it was owned by H.R. Crown in Van Nuys, California. 103 remained in California until it was acquired by the current owner. By the time it arrived in California, this Bentley was in a similar configuration to how it is presented today. Under the bonnet, the 3-liter engine is fitted with twin SU G5 'Sloper' Carburetors and an ML CG4 Magneto and Stage 2 Perrot shafts and brackets on the front end.

After two idle decades, this early Bentley received professional care from marque experts who rebuilt all the major systems of the car. This work, which was completed in 2018, lead to the car that is presented today. Handsome in black with accents of red and scratched aluminum with a triplex windscreen, this 3 Liter is very well sorted inside and out. Included in the sale, along with tolls, is an exhaustive history report compiled by Clare Hay in 2019.