2022 | London Auction
1928 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre Sports Tourer
From The Timeless Collection
Coachwork by Vanden Plas
£1,200,000 - £1,500,000
One of 667 Examples Built of the 4 1/2 Litre Model
Quintessential Vanden Plas Sports Tourer Coachwork
Well-Preserved Example Retaining Its Original Chassis, Engine, and Coachwork per Copies of Factory Documentation on File
Prime Example of Bentley’s Renowned 4 1/2 Litre Model
Ideal Candidate for Vintage Rallies and Tours
4,398 CC SOHC Inline 4-Cylinder Engine
Twin SU G5 Sloper Carburetors
110 HP at 3,400 RPM
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
F.B. Landale, Shaftesbury, England (acquired new in 1928)
J.H. Lender, London, England (acquired from the above in 1937)
John Kenneth Heisch, London, England (acquired in 1948)
John Richard Brewer, London, England (acquired from the above in 1951)
Jack Platt, London, England (acquired from the above in 1960)
James Woodhead, London, England (acquired from the above in 1969)
David Duckworth, London, England (acquired in 2000)
Peter Rae, London, England (acquired circa 2003)
Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2008)
Temporary UK Import
See UK Registration/Import Status Guide in catalogue.
The Bentley 4 1/2 Litre model was the logical evolution of the race-proven 3 Litre, true to W.O. Bentley’s philosophy of increasing engine size to raise power, rather than stressing an existing engine. The 50% increase in displacement raised horsepower to 110, more than sufficient to garner yet another Le Mans victory for the Cricklewood firm in 1928. The Bentley Motors team of Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin edged out formidable competition from an eight-cylinder Stutz in an epic battle with the victorious four-cylinder 4 1/2 Litre model securing Bentley’s third Le Mans win in five years.
Bentley unveiled the new 4 1/2 Litre model in October 1927 at the Olympia Motor Show, offering “to those discriminating motorists to whom the joy of motoring lies in fascinating acceleration, high speed, and—Bentley design.” Its four-cylinder 4,398 cc engine retained the dual ignition and four valves per cylinder design, but shared bore and stroke dimensions of 100 mm and 140 mm with the six-cylinder 6 1/2 Litre model introduced in 1926. A wider radiator ensured greater cooling capacity and the increased power was transmitted through an improved gearbox, all mounted typically in the standard 130” wheelbase chassis. Between 1927 and 1931, a total of 667 of the 4 1/2 Litre models were built, including this well-preserved example, chassis TX3235, still carrying its original Vanden Plas Sports Tourer coachwork.
Chassis TX3235 was delivered on July 18, 1928 to its first owner, F.B. Landale of Shaftesbury, with a list price of £1,295. This is confirmed in Bentley: The Vintage Years 1919–1931 by marque authority Michael Hay, who additionally lists its engine no. as TX3236. Accompanying copies of Bentley Motors’ records note a D-type gearbox, no. 7088, the 15/33 (3.53:1) rear-axle ratio, and Vanden Plas body no. 1488. Extracts from the Vanden Plas order books identify this body as a four-place tourer finished in black Rexine fabric.
Service records indicate Mr. Landale owned the car through 1936. It was then acquired by J.H. Lender of Kensington who retained it until 1948. Chassis TX3235 passed through four other owners in England and, by 1975, was exported to South Africa. It returned to England in 2000, when acquired by David Duckworth of Lancashire. Since 2008, TX3235 has been part of the Timeless Collection and maintained by a professional team in the collection’s workshop. This marks a special opportunity to acquire one of the best preserved Vintage Bentleys, let alone an iconic 4 1/2 Litre with the definitive Vanden Plas Sports Tourer body.
The Vanden Plas Sports Tourer coachwork is of the traditional three-door and rear-mounted, spare-wheel design. At the front, the signature Bentley radiator and grille are topped with the winged “B” mascot with Carl Zeiss “Jena” headlamps providing illumination. The black canvas hood is accompanied by a matching top boot and tonneau cover with black Rudge-Whitworth spoke wheels completing the presentation. The interior is finished in leather upholstery in a deep-red tone which contrasts nicely with the exterior color. The wood-trimmed dashboard contains the full array of Jaeger and Smiths instruments to keep the driver informed of mechanical operation.
TX3235’s capable chassis and engine paired with lightweight Vanden Plas tourer coachwork make it an ideal candidate for vintage tours and rallies. Additionally, its presence on the show field is sure to garner appreciation for its dashing appearance, lovely patina, and inherent preservation qualities.
When introduced to the public some 95 years ago, Bentley marketing described the 4 1/2 Litre as “a car which will earn the right to be called the leader of all sports cars.” That bold statement was valid in its day and now serves as a challenge for its next owner to discover.