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1927 Bentley 3 Liter Red Label by Vanden Plas

See New Pricing: Highly Original 3 Litre with Fascinating History. Extensive Recent Rally History on 4 Continents and Has Never Failed to Proceed

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Price $395,000
Exterior Color Ivory
Interior Color Tan
Mileage 68014 Miles
Engine 3.0 Litre 4-Cylinder no. RC325E
Transmission 4-Speed Manual
Status Hidden
Stock FJ1789


This particular automobile is not currently located at Fantasy Junction, but remains available.




1927 Bentley 3 Litre Vanden Plas Tourer
s/n RC-32, engine RC-325
Ivory with Tan Leather Interior

The 3 Litre Bentley is a legendary car that brought Bentley Motors Limited its first Le Mans victory in 1924 and again in 1927. Bentley went on to win Le Mans an additional three times, giving a total of five victories over an eight year period. This is an extremely impressive achievement considering the fact that the company was founded only a few years earlier in 1919. The company existed in this form only until 1931 before being acquired by Rolls-Royce Motors Ltd. These early “Cricklewood” Bentleys are prized for their uncompromising engineering, as well as their genuine competition heritage.

The specification of the 3 Litre is extraordinarily impressive, and demonstrates the genius of W. O. Bentley. The engine was quite remarkable for the period, with overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder, and twin spark ignition. Pent roof combustion chambers and available dual SU carburetors further distinguished the engine, whose block and cylinder head were cast as a single unit for maximum rigidity. The car was available in three wheelbases and three states of tune. Of the 1622 3 Litres built in all, 513 were Speed Models distinguished by twin SU carburetors and higher compression ratio.

This particular car is a one of four built by the “Nobby” Clarke at the Bentley Service Depot in London from vintage Bentley parts in 1936. All were given new RC (for reconditioned) chassis numbers. Six 4.5 liter cars were built as well, and all but one of these ten cars were fitted with new Vanden Plas four seat tourer bodies. While the 4.5 Liter cars were constructed on spare chassis that had never been completed, the 3 Litre cars were actually reconditioned cars supplied by J. C. Neville, who ran the Service Sales Department, which remained open to service Bentleys after the Cricklewood facility closed when Rolls-Royce acquired Bentley.

The 3 Litre cars were completed between June and October of 1936, and this particular car was first registered on 23 June 1936. One of the other cars was exported to India and is known to have been destroyed by a fire. This car remained in the United Kingdom and returned to the works regularly for service in 1936, 1937, and 1938. A copy of the registration booklet shows regular registration in the UK, usually in London, from 1955 to 1967, when the car was noted to be grey in color. The car eventually made its way to California, where it remained with one owner in La Jolla from 1976 to 1997, when its current owner, also a California resident purchased it from the previous owner.

The car’s current owner has been exceptionally enthusiastic, and has come to embody the old-school Bentley driver (rather than Rolls-Royce owner), using the car in over a dozen rallies on four continents, some of which have exceeded 3000 miles in length. He reports that during this time, the car has never failed to proceed. The engine was comprehensively rebuilt at See Garage in Zurich, Switzerland in 2003, with Phoenix counter-balance crankshaft, high pressure main bearings, new pistons, new connecting rods, and rebuilt dual magnetos. Between 2001 and 2014, the car participated in the following rallies:

Liège-Rome-Liège 2001
International Vintage Bentley Tour of South Africa 2001 (3000 miles in South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho)
Bentley Drivers Club Vintage Rally of New Zealand 2001, also over 3000 miles
47eme Rally des Alpes 2002
Gran Premio Nuvolari 2003
49eme Rally des Alpes 2005
International Vintage Bentley Tour of South Africa (again) 2006
Bentleys Round the BC Loop (Canada) 2006
California Mille 2010
California Mille 2011
Spring Colors Motor Tour 2013
Fall Colors Motor Tour 2013
Spring Colors Motor Tour 2014
Fall Colors Motor Tour 2014

Cosmetically, the car has a pleasant patina that reflects its distinguished event history. The paint has a few chips, surface cracks, and other minor blemishes, which the car wears with pride. The chrome is generally in nice shape, although the finish on the radiator shell is wearing a bit thin. The car has a folding conventional windscreen as well as Brooklands screens. The car has Marchal headlamps and a spot lamp in excellent shape, along with a pair of Lucas Flamethrower fog lamps.

The interior is in similar condition, with some patina to the leather, but solid and honest presentation throughout. The carpets are in good shape with some stains present, the wood dashboard is nice, and the period instruments functional and evocative.

The engine is quite tidy and well-presented. It is very clean and appears to have been well-maintained in a manner consistent with a reliable long distance event car. The engine itself is intrinsically beautiful in a way that even cars from the 1960s don’t seem to manage. The car runs and drives well, as to be expected from its event history. It starts easily, is well-tuned, and functions as it should. The unsynchronized gearbox works well with proper technique, as do the brakes.

This is an exceptional opportunity to acquire a Cricklewood Bentley with fascinating history and provenance. One of just a handful of RC Bentleys made, this example is wonderfully honest and well-dialed, and has amply proven itself as one of the most accomplished event cars Fantasy Junction has encountered in recent memory. There are photos of the car in the Alps and Africa, including some with giraffes. The car has FIVA papers issued in 2004 as well as miscellaneous documentation dating back to the 1930s to support the history described above.


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