1927 Bentley 6½ Litre Le Mans Sports

Brian Henniker, courtesy of Gooding & Company

As with all great W.O. Bentley-era cars, the legendary 6½ Litre owes its existence to the original 3-liter design. Racing success, including the 1924 and 1927 Le Mans wins, quickly drove sales, with buyers soon demanding ever-more luxurious and heavy custom coachwork, resulting in the more powerful 4½ Litre, which in modified form earned Bentley’s third Le Mans win in 1928. While Tim Birkin famously created the supercharged 4½ Litre Blower Bentley, the Works’ own uprated 6½ Litre Speed Six cars closed out Bentley’s early glory days with wins at Le Mans in 1929 and 1930 — Bentley’s last until 2003.

Today, a Le Mans-specification 6½ Litre Speed Six is arguably the most desirable of all Vintage Bentleys. As expected considering their Le Mans-winning cachet, muscular presence and sheer rarity, collector demand has long outstripped supply.

Carrying known provenance from delivery to its first owner in April 1927, chassis BX2416 originally was fitted with saloon coachwork by Gurney Nutting in the Weymann style.

While hard to imagine today, an old Bentley carried negligible value by the late 1930s and well after the war years. Accordingly, BX2416 was eventually converted into a lightweight racing special by Major Jack Bailey, with a lightweight two-seater racing body fitted to the shortened original chassis.

By the mid-1970s, it was under new ownership, with a rudimentary touring-style body fitted. Subsequently, the Bentley was sold to British Bentley specialist David Ayre in 2008 and then to Ron Rezek the same year. Mr. Rezek, in turn, commissioned Ayre to restore the chassis and mechanical components into a highly authentic 1930 Le Mans-style tourer. Of particular note, the chassis (BX2416), engine (numbered BX2421), steering box (numbered BX2416), and rear axle (also numbered BX2416) remained together throughout the eight decades since new, matching the factory build specifications.

The restoration was completed in July 2010, with the work and the car’s history documented and depicted in a book containing approximately 30 pages. Soon after the restoration was finished, BX2416 was awarded Best Restoration honors at the Bentley Club Concours d’Elegance in 2010.

While other appearances and awards would follow, perhaps even more remarkable is the performance of this 1927 Bentley on several long-distance classic tours, including two editions of the Colorado Grand. Mr. Rezek and this vehicle successfully met their toughest challenge in May 2014 on a particularly demanding European tour with the Bentley Drivers Club, stretching 3,000 miles from London to Paris, Italy, Monaco, and back. Despite the obstacles presented by formidable Alpine roads, including the legendary Stelvio Pass, Mr. Rezek’s vehicle completed the tour with typical Bentley aplomb.

As now offered for sale, this 1927 Bentley is complete with the aforementioned restoration book and complete specifications.

SCM Auction Analyst

Michael came home from the maternity ward in a custom, Candy Apple Red ’55 Chevy, and it’s been cars, cars, cars, ever since. Eclectic fare, from full classics to current exotics, always filled the family garage. After a stint as the commercial director of an auto racing team, Leven became a professional winemaker, a craft he practices to this day. He regularly drives his MB 280SL, and recently recommissioned a W123 Mercedes for his teenage sons, saying, “It’s perfect: slow, safe and indestructible.” His mission is to find a Gypsy Red ’55 Nomad like the one his grandfather bought new.

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