16-17 January 2014

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Lot 41

1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Tourer by Vanden Plas

  • Chassis no. NX3467
  • Engine no. NX3470
  • Registration no. UU6075

$1,800,000 - $2,200,000

100 bhp, 4,398 cc single overhead-camshaft, four-cylinder engine with twin SU HVG5 carburetors, four-speed manual transmission with a single-plate clutch, semi-elliptic front and rear suspension, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 120.5 in.

  • Perhaps the most original 4½-Litre in existence
  • Original engine, gearbox, bodywork, and Connolly leather interior
  • Formerly owned by Arthur Eldredge and Ed Sutherland
  • Known history documented by Bentley historian Clare Hay
  • One of the very best available

Before World War I, Belgian coachbuilder Vanden Plas formed a British branch to handle the growing demand for their specialized bodywork on Rolls-Royce and, especially, Bentley chassis. Most of the open bodies fitted to Bentleys during the W.O. era were by Vanden Plas, and they were often comprised of a wooden framework that was covered in padded leatherette in the British racing color of dark green. Affectionately nicknamed “Great Green Machines,” these cars won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1924, 1927, 1929, and 1930, thanks to their combination of tremendous power and lightweight coachwork.

So popular were the Vanden Plas fabric bodies that many original chassis have today been rebodied in their image. The 4½-Litre offered here is distinguished not only for having been bodied new by Vanden Plas as an open tourer but also for retaining that original coachwork, as well as a great deal of its other original components, to this very day. As such, it is a remarkable

W.O. Bentley and one of the truly “Great Cars.”

The car’s chassis was completed on March 16, 1929, and then it was sent to Vanden Plas to receive its first and only coachbuilt body, a standard sports four-seater numbered 1571. It was ordered by Moir & Straker, a new dealership founded by Bertie Kensington Moir, a well-known racing driver and former Service Department manager for Bentley, and Reggis Straker. The body was covered in black Triplex fabric, number 53453, with upholstery in Connolly brown Levant grain leather. Extras included a Homa dash lamp, a Smiths windscreen wiper, and an eight-day clock. The bodied Bentley was returned to the factory at Cricklewood for a final test, and it was completed on May 9, 1929. It was then sold to its original owner, H. Reid Hardie of Glasgow, who registered it in London as UU 6075.

The Bentley was acquired in July 1935 by H. Marston Riley of Birmingham. In 1948, it traveled to the United States with a new owner, C.P. Moore, and has remained stateside with just a handful of loving caretakers. It was purchased in 1954 by T.S. Barb, who, in 1962, sold it to Arthur Eldredge, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, who was a noted architect and car enthusiast. Mr. Eldredge kept and drove his beloved Bentley until his passing 33 years later, after which it was acquired by Ed Sutherland of Melvin Village, New Hampshire. Its current owner, who acquired the car a decade ago from Mr. Sutherland, is a noted Rolls-Royce and Bentley enthusiast who has exhibited cars for many years at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

A report prepared by renowned Bentley specialist Clare Hay, whose thorough written evaluation, which is on file, notes the addition of a Jaeger tachometer. An additional tail lamp has also been fitted. The chassis frame and engine are both original, as is the desirable close-ratio C gearbox, which is amongst the most desirable of the several types of gearboxes offered on these cars. It should also be noted that many of the smaller numbered components can be easily observed as original, including the steering box, which is also numbered NX3467, and even the twin SU carburetors, which are numbered to match the intake manifold!

Patina is an overused word, but it is entirely appropriate for NX3467. Hay’s report notes that the paint on the chassis and fenders, as well as the interior upholstery, is entirely original. The body fabric is known to have been replaced once, and it was believed that this was done in 1932, when more extensive work was carried out; this is a supposition that is strongly supported by the age of the material and the quality of the workmanship. The paint is beautifully weathered, but it still holds a shine, and the leather within is as broken-in and comfortable as a favorite baseball glove.

This wonderful Bentley has been properly maintained by enthusiasts literally since “day one” of its life, and it wears the loving signs of a life well-lived. Amazingly, it has participated in nearly every single North American Vintage Bentley Meet since the club’s inception in 1982. As presented, it looks as if it is waiting to be boarded and taken for a long jaunt across the continent to Le Mans…or to Indianapolis. This proven, reliable tour car is ready for many more miles, and it has been reported by the owner to be 100% “on the button” and ready to be enjoyed.

An honest car like NX3467 will be most enthusiastically accepted by such venerable clubs as the Bentley Owners’ Club, the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club, the Classic Car Club of America, and globally in the world’s finest concours events. Rarely found is a W.O. Bentley that is so original, that is in such remarkable condition cosmetically and mechanically, and that is so thoroughly documented. In the words of an RM specialist, “it has no drama and no stories.”

NX3467 is arguably one of the finest unrestored examples of the fabric-bodied Vanden Plas Tourers to exist today. It is a genuine example that stands tall in a sea of pretenders, and it is a wonderful, pure, and irreplaceable original for the Bentley Boy who insists upon the best.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more