1931 Bentley 4½ Liter Supercharged Boattail

It never won a major race and proved almost sale-proof, but the macho Blower Bentley is Britain’s ultimate vintage sports car

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Though only 50 production Blower Bentleys were built, experts estimate that 43 still exist. Of that number, few if any are as untouched as this car. Indeed, no less a vintage Bentley authority than Clare Hay has written about SM3916: “[It is] in such original order that the felt damping pad to prevent vibration between the supercharger and the aluminum cowling is still in place.”

Its first owner was S.B. Peck, who took delivery on December 31, 1931, from the Jack Barclay showrooms in London. It was fitted with an extremely sporting Gurney Nutting 2/3 passenger boattail body, one of two or possibly three executed in this style. In any case, this is the sole remaining example and most closely resembles the Gurney Nutting boattail built for Bentley chairman and successful Bentley Boy racing driver Woolf Barnato.

This 1931 Bentley 4½ Liter Supercharged Boattail was one of the earlier Bentley acquisitions from the U.K. by Bill and Ann Klein and remained a cherished favorite through the years. Bill’s nickname for the car was “The Green Hornet,” as can be seen on a small plaque on the dashboard. He made a gift of the car to Ann in 1953, and it has remained in her possession ever since.

While this particular Bentley does not boast a factory competition history, it certainly looks the part of a proper sports racing car of the period with its graceful, no-nonsense lightweight boattail body married to that supercharged 4 1/2-liter chassis and close-ratio gearbox. It delivers what it promises with performance that marked it as a supercar when new and even more so among vintage sports cars today.

Any supercharged 4 1/2-liter Bentley must be considered among the top rank in collector cars worldwide. To find one that is so very original with such stunning coachwork gives it an added cachet and desirability that is virtually unique among these marvelous motorcars.

Simon Kidston

Simon Kidston - SCM Editor at Large

Simon is from an old British motor-racing family. He started his career at Coys, leaving to co-found Bonhams Europe in Geneva. Over the next decade, he staged high-profile auctions around the world, branching out on his own in 2006 to found Kidston SA, a consultancy responsible for some of the larger deals you rarely hear about. Simon also judges at Pebble Beach and is “the voice” of the Villa d’Este Concours and the Mille Miglia.

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