Bentley 4½-Litre Supercharged Le Mans Tourer @ RM Sotheby's

Bentley 4½-Litre Supercharged Le Mans Tourer @ RM Sotheby's

1928 Bentley 4½-Litre Supercharged Le Mans Tourer in the style of Vanden Plas at RM Sotheby's British Classics Online Auction : 21 - 28 February, 2024


Estimate: €500,000 - €700,000 EUR  | Offered Without Reserve

Chassis No. TX3227
Engine No. MR3396
Documents Bill of Sale Only
   
A rare 4½-Litre Bentley upgraded to ‘Blower’ specification


Fitted with a later body in the style of the tourers which attempted victory at Le Mans in 1930
Requires recommissioning; potentially the perfect Bentley for use on road, track, or endurance rally


While most manufacturers forged their reputations over several decades, the legend surrounding the Bentley marque was created in as little as 12 years. Famed for combining ultimate luxury with sporting prowess, Bentley is still synonymous with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, though the company’s most famous model—the ‘Blower Bentley’—was not originally a Cricklewood creation.

 

Bentley’s 4½-Litre model could trace its origins back to the formation of the company, in being an evolution of the 3 Litre. Predominantly fitted with a 10-foot 10-inch chassis, the 4½-Litre formed the backbone of the Competition department’s efforts at Le Mans, Brooklands, and Montlhéry before the arrival of the dominant Speed Six. While the Speed Six utilised Bentley’s tried-and-tested formula of reliable long-stroke engines providing effortless torque, Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin was convinced that a lighter car with forced induction through supercharging was the answer for achieving outright speed. With the backing of the Hon. Dorothy Paget, five competition prototypes were built and would be used at the team entries under Paget’s name.

 

Affectionately known as the ‘Blower Bentley’, these supercharged 4½s were some of the fastest cars of their day, with Birkin leading the race and taking the lap record during the 1930 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Blower’s most impressive feat was at the 1930 French Grand Prix, where Birkin heroically muscled his Bentley to 2nd overall behind a Bugatti Type 35C, but in front of five further Bugatti Type 35s—a remarkable achievement for a modified road car pitted against thoroughbred Grand Prix cars. The project ultimately led to 50 production examples being completed by the factory, despite its initial reluctance, in order for the model to meet Le Mans regulations.

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Text & Image: RM Sotheby 's

 


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