|Vehicle:||1929 Bentley Speed Three-Liter|
|Tune Up Cost:||$500-$1,500|
|Distributor Caps:||Uses magnetos|
|Chassis Number Location:||Plate on engine side of firewall near bonnet|
|Engine Number Location:||Stamped in right front engine leg|
|Club Info:||Bentley Drivers Club, 16 Chearsley Rd. Long Crendon, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP189AW, England|
|Alternatives:||3-Liter Lagonda, Vauxhall 30-980E, Austro-Daimler ADM6 2-Liter|
You can almost guarantee a lively argument among vintage Bentley owners down at the local pub by asking which is the best driving model among the 3-, 4-, 4½-, 6½- and 8-liter-engined cars. At the end of the day, though, most of them will come down on the side of the 3-Litre Speed model for sheer vintage motoring pleasure if not all-out performance against their larger-engined brethren. This Bentley sold for $134,500 including commision at the Christie’s auction in Pebble Beach, California.
In my experience a well set up three-litre Bentley will steer easier, stop better, maneuver more tidily, handle better, and in some cases, depending on the model of gearbox in the car, shift cleaner and more crisply than the bigger Bentleys. These virtues particularly apply to the later three-litre cars, which carry a host of improvements developed over an eight-year period.
This car had a great deal going for it: it is the very last three-litre built by the original Bentley Motors and is unique due to its chassis combination. The car has a known history from the day of delivery, including ownership by two of the best-known vintage Bentley exponents in the U.K. and U.S., and factors such as these loom more and more important for the ongoing value of vintage Bentleys purchased in today’s market.
During the 1980’s feeding frenzy the total correctness of a car was far less crucial than now. In the current market the discriminating Bentley shopper wants a real car and they don’t come “realer” than this one. It’s a matching numbers example and has a patina of originality that only careful maintenance over a long period of years can impart to any car. If I was lucky enough to own it I wouldn’t touch a thing: just drive it, show it and enjoy it.
For a correct three-litre Speed model like this one, the money paid was on the button and arguably, a bit of a bargain for a unique car like this. You could spend far more than that building up a three-litre from bits and still have a mongrel automobile when finished. Lesser examples usually bring about two-thirds to four-fifths what this car fetched. For the relatively little difference paid, the buyer got a lot more car; one that is internationally known and would find ready buyers on either side of the Atlantic. Call it a Red Label blue chip.-Dave Brownell