To find a vintage Bentley with its original engine and original body is rare indeed-and it’s the second-to-last built
Introduced at the London Motor Show in 1930, the Bentley 8-liter made an immediate impact. While the engine was an extension of the successful 6.5-liter engine that powered Bentleys to numerous race victories, the 8-liter was intended to knock Rolls-Royce from its pedestal.
The 8-liter was capable of 100 mph fitted with formal coachwork, while the Rolls-Royce had difficulty attaining 90 mph. It also impressed the automotive scribes of the era, with the Sphere of 1931 describing the new 8-liter as “one of the finest examples of British Automobile Engineering that has ever been produced,” while Autocar recounted a 1930 road test in glowing terms.
Unfortunately, the 8-liter was launched in the teeth of the Great Depression and Bentley’s chief financier, the great Woolf Barnato, cut his losses and withdrew. After only 100 8-liters were built, Bentley ceased production.
The majority of 8-liters were fitted with formal, heavy, four-door saloon or limousine coachwork, so it is rare to find one built to the very sporting specification exhibited by YX5124. This short-chassis Bentley 8-Liter Mayfair Coupe is a very handsome two-door fixed-head coupe by the Mayfair Carriage Company, which was an important coachbuilder in the 1930s.
Chronicled as the second-to-last 8-liter built, YX5124 has complete history from new. One of only three 8-liter short-chassis fixed-head coupes, its value is enhanced by the fact that one of the three is still locked away in India. YX5124 was first delivered to C.G. Hayward. Its next owner was H.J. Thomas, who was director of the Bristol Aeroplane Company. While in his ownership, the 21-inch wheels were replaced with 19-inch wheels and the fenders and running boards altered to incorporate tool boxes. The Bentley was mothballed during WWII, then found its way to Royal Navy war hero Captain G.C. Blundell in 1957.
Blundell had bought his first Bentley as a junior officer in the 1930s and remained true to the marque until his death at age 93 in 1997. Most impressively, the 8-Liter Mayfair Coupe remained in his ownership until 1983, when it was purchased by a collector. He immediately commissioned a complete rebuild by a W.O. Bentley specialist restorer in the U.K.
The Bentley was painstakingly restored to its original configuration, the bodywork preserved and all mechanical components overhauled. The fenders, running boards, and wheels were all returned to their correct form and a photographic record of the work is included.
The Mayfair Coupe retains its original engine and body and is equipped with a full tool kit and log books dating from 1945. The 8-liter has been expertly maintained and extensively exercised, covering in excess of 250,000 miles during its lifetime.
While no longer a 100-point restoration, it remains in outstanding condition. The green leather interior shows minimal wear. Woodwork remains in excellent shape, as do the gauges and headliner. The engine and bay are indicative of a well-maintained car.
The Bentley’s exterior brightwork is impressive and shows only minor flaws, while the paintwork is striking, in British Racing Green and black. When fully opened, the sliding sunroof offers both driver and passenger the benefits of open air motoring with convenient closed comfort. It is a feature unique to this Bentley.
With its exceptional provenance, wonderful condition, and rare production, this 8-liter short-chassis fixed-head coupe is a handsome representative of Bentley’s most masterful creations.