Jun 12 2017

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Bentley 3-litre / 4.5 litre / Speed Six / 8- litre

The magnificent machines created by W.O Bentley are among the most recognisable of all vintage cars. Massive, powerful and fast, they are among the ultimate machines of their era.

The 3-litre arrived in 1921. It was based on a stout conventional ladder chassis frame with huge side members, on which sat an unstressed body fronted by a characteristic rounded radiator. Under the bonnet was a four cylinder fixed head engine with a single overhead camshaft which was shaft-driven from the front of the crankshaft and operated 16 valves.

The 3-litre developed and impressive 80bhp, while the 4 ½ litre which followed gave 105bhp. Even more was on tap from the famous “blower” 4 ½ and six cylinder. 6 ½ litre Speed Six from 1929. Ettore Bugatti is said to have described Bentleys as “the world´s fastest lorries”.

W.O Bentley built his cars strong, powerful and fast, and their record in competition shows that the strategy was a success: Bentley´s cars beat the French in their own Le Mans 24-hour race four times in succession, from 1927 to 1930.

But Bentley´s sporting success was not matched in the marketplace: the Depression arrived just as the firm went into the super –luxury arena with its 8-litre model. Bentley went into receivership in 1930 and was taken over by Rolls Royce.

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