19-20 August 2016

Sam & Emily Mann: A Collection by Design

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Lot 233

1926 Bentley 3-4½-Litre Tourer in the style of Vanden Plas

  • Chassis no. 911
  • Engine no. 919

Sold for $682,000

100 bhp, 4,398 cc OHC inline four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual gearbox, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Weelbase: 117.5 in.

  • Offered from the collection of Sam and Emily Mann
  • Faithfully constructed in the style of the famed 1928 Le Mans winner, “Old Mother Gun”
  • An exceptional restoration; extensive sorting for rallying and touring
  • Ideal for events such as the Copperstate 1000 and Bentley Drivers Club rallies
  • A thrilling Bentley meant to be driven in the great “W.O.” style

Developed from the brilliant 3-Litre, W.O. Bentley’s more powerful 4½-Litre made its debut in 1925 and managed the difficult feat of both improving upon the marque’s carriage-trade business and building upon the racing success of its progenitor in one masterful stroke. Of all Bentleys of its era, it is the 4½-Litre that remains most famous today, and the most famous 4½-Litre is “Old Mother Gun.” Crashed at Le Mans in 1927, it was subsequently repaired and captured Bentley’s third Le Mans title in 1928, co-driven by the “Bentley Boys” Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin. “Old Mother Gun” enjoyed an epic career and survives today as one of the most valued and historic of vintage Bentleys.

The faithful and handsome car shown here was built in the style of “Old Mother Gun” on the Bentley 3-Litre chassis number 911, originally delivered in Melbourne, Australia, with a drophead coupe body by Freestone & Webb, in January 1925. When acquired by enthusiast Brian Hussey in 2003 as a restoration project, it was running, but its original coachwork was beyond repair. Rather than attempt a full restoration to original form, the decision was made to perform an exacting conversion of the car to the Le Mans specification of “Old Mother Gun.”

The car was completely dismantled, and its chassis shortened by 2½ inches, fitted with fixed pillar struts, and its springs re-tempered, reset, and refitted with correcting mountings and full-length gaiters. The brakes were rebuilt with finned drums, and period-correct 20-inch wire wheels were installed. The engine was built upon a “Blower”-specification 4½-Litre block, acquired from the late Russ “Rusty” Turner, with the additions of a Reece camshaft, Phoenix crankshaft, performance connecting rods, high-compression pistons, needle-bearing rockers, and a high-performance oil pump. A lightened flywheel, heavy-duty clutch, and fully rebuilt gearbox drive a new balanced propshaft and a 3.53:1 differential with a new four-star crown wheel and pinion.

The coachwork in the Vanden Plas Le Mans style was expertly framed by Rod Wariner and paneled in aluminum; all of the trim details are correct, including Vanden Plas sill plates. James Pearce finished the seats in Muirhead leather, while the hood and tonneau covers, both full and half-length, were reportedly made to the correct original pattern. Accessories included both full and quick-release Brooklands-type windscreens, pre-war Lucas P100 angle-mounted headlamps with stone guards, right-angle-drive Klaxon horn and two forward Klaxonettes, and full instrumentation with a dashboard-mounted air pump.

The completed car was sold by Mr. Hussey in 2008 and was eventually acquired by a Swiss enthusiast, who reportedly invested a further ?30,000 in such items as a new alternator and starter motor, the cross-shaft assembly, and the addition of new racing pistons and engine tuning for additional power. Four years later, it was acquired by Sam and Emily Mann, in whose distinguished collection it has since remained.

Further sorting has been undertaken during the Mann’s ownership, with tours and rallies in mind. Blakeney Motorsport of Buntingford, Hertfordshire, performed an initial round of fettling shortly after the Manns acquired the car in 2012. More recently, in June 2016, D.L. George Historic Motorcars, the well-regarded vintage Bentley restoration facility in Cochranville, Pennsylvania, rebuilt the suspension with correct rod end springs, rebuilt and improved the brakes, installed new rear wheel hubs and spring shackle bushings, and rebuilt the alternator.

A fan of vintage Bentleys, Sam states: “This car shifts beautifully and easily, and it has the wonderful capacity of being fun to drive at speed or with a full passenger load for a more leisurely outing. It has the look of that wonderful Vanden Plas design with the flowing, ostensibly one-piece fender. I am particularly enamored with the front view, with its dual shock absorbers, low-mounted horns, headlight stone guards, and diagonal struts to reinforce the headlight stanchions – all elements which emphasize the competition character of the car.”

The car is set for a new owner to enjoy in events such as the Copperstate 1000 and Colorado Grand, as well as Bentley Drivers Club events such as the 1000-mile event one the Manns completed just last year in Upstate New York. Not just a “special,” it is a thoughtfully constructed representation of one of the most famous and valuable of vintage Bentleys and will allow its next caretaker to enjoy the remarkable driving experience of “Old Mother Gun” on modern roads.


Please note that this title is in transit.

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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California, United States

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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United Kingdom

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Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

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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California, United States

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Don Rose

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United States

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Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

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Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

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Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

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Kurt Forry

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Matt Malamut

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California, United States

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Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

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Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

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Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

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United Kingdom

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Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

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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California, United States

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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United Kingdom

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