Designed in 1919, first produced in 1921, and drawing on aero-engine technology, the 3-Liter Bentley is to many, the archetypal vintage sports car. Second, fourth and fifth in the 1922 Tourist Trophy against out-and-out racing cars, first at Le Mans in 1924 and again in 1927. The holder of 24-hour records at over 95 mph, the 3-Liter Bentley is truly a legend. It was built to be a comfortable, user-friendly, road-going sports car that could be raced; a formula that many manufacturers have since emulated but rarely improved.
Thc vehicle described here is the very last 3-Liter produced by the Old Company at Cricklewood. Factory records indicate that it was built to order on a special Short Speed Model 4½-litre chassis, a truly unique and much sought after example. Completed in May, 1929, DN1741 was shipped to Wylders of Kew and fitted with the attractive and desirable fabric-covered, barrel sided open sports touring body which it still wears.
The strong point of this chassis for Bentley enthusiasts is the engine. Bentley fitted the late-type one-piece sump, as used on the 4½-liter, with a superior oil-pump arrangement. A heavier crank was fitted with thicker webs and two-bolt direct-metalloid rods. The valve gear used duralumin rockers in separate rocker-boxes, again developed for the 4½-liter engine, and the fixed-type top bevel drive to the camshaft. This replaced the earlier non-located type, which was prone to tooth breakage. The resulting engine was significantly more powerful and more robust than the early engine. Bought by Johnnie Green in 1940 for £60, and christened “Greenfly,” the 3-Liter was regularly clocked at 92 mph, and was driven by Johnnie in early post-war BDC meetings at Silverstone. The facia is resplendent with its correct instrumentation and there are two period plaques, one identifying it as ‘Greenfly’ and the other attesting to its successes at Brooklands. It comes complete with copies of correspondence from Johnnie Green. It is an unrestored, original example with full history and excellent provenance.