Monterey

18-19 August 2017

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Lot 133

1930 Bentley 6½-Litre Speed Six Sportsman’s Saloon by Corsica

  • Chassis no. HM2861
  • Engine no. LR2782

$3,500,000 - $5,500,000

To be auctioned on Friday, August 18, 2017


Please note that Internet bidding is not available for this lot. Interested parties that are unable to attend the sale may register to bid by telephone or place a commission bid online at rmsothebys.com.

  • One of the most beautiful, famous, and important Speed Sixes
  • Immensely impressive, sinister original Corsica coachwork
  • Formerly owned by Hugh Young, Barry Cooney, and Gordon Apker
  • Very well known in vintage Bentley circles


THE SPEED SIX: IN SEARCH OF POWER

Created at the urging of foremost “Bentley Boy” and Bentley Motors chairman Woolf Barnato, the Speed Six was the racing derivative of the massive and potent 6½-Litre. It could be argued that, in its mechanical specifications, the Speed Six was very similar to and derivative of the 6½-Litre, but that is as fallacious as claiming that the 250 GTO is the same as a 250 GT Pininfarina coupe. The new model boasted from such a host of upgrades, including twin SU carburetors on a new square-section intake manifold. Its performance was above and beyond its sibling by incredible measure. In racing tune, 200 horsepower was possible, and period reports indicated a top speed of 120 mph, comparable to the mighty Duesenberg.

Speed Sixes blasted all over Europe, so dominating Le Mans at 1929 that, at one point, they were so far ahead of the field that they were instructed to reduce to touring speed for the last few hours (and won anyway). After a dominating season they returned to Le Mans in 1930, repeating the same feat down to the “slow finish,” and marking Bentley’s fourth consecutive victory at the world’s greatest endurance race.

As was true for other competition cars of the period, the Speed Six was not used strictly for racing. Chassis configured very similarly to the Le Mans cars were released to private owners and fitted with remarkable custom coachwork, few more remarkable than that offered here.

GH 208: THE JOURNEYS OF A SINGULAR SPEED SIX

This Speed Six, chassis number HM2861, was delivered to original owner J.W. Bealey of Little Minthurst Farm, Charlwood, Sussex, in September 1930, via Jack Barclay of London. As a very late Speed Six, it was constructed with all of the Le Mans-bred updates, including a stronger camshaft, 25-quart oil sump, and “C” type gearbox. Bentley Motors build records, copies of which are on file, detail the original specifications, including noting the original coachbuilder as Corsica Coachworks, also of London.

Corsica’s spectacular body for the car ranks among the most memorable creations of a shop known for the audacious and impressive. Taking full advantage of the 152-inch chassis, they built a car that appears to be all engine, with a hoodline and cycle-style fenders extending almost half the length of the automobile, ending at a five-passenger Sportsman’s Saloon body with a low roofline, split windscreen, and truncated tail. Aside from Woolf Barnato’s famous streamlined coupe, no other “Speed Six” packed as much visual impact as the Bealey car.

The late Hugh Young, a longstanding and highly respected member and officer of the Bentley Drivers Club, acquired the machine in Wool, Dorset, in 1958, by which time it had gained its current engine, LR2782, from another Speed Six. Mr. Young recalled that his wife “Ursula and I brought the Speed Six to Canada in the summer of 1959, in the hold of the Pinemore cargo ship in which we also traveled . . . . We then drove it – unrestored! – from Montreal to Winnipeg via the U.S. That was a real adventure!”

After many years of driving enjoyment with the Speed Six, Mr. Young sold the car in 1976 to Barry Cooney, a well-known enthusiast from Oregon who has owned several vintage Bentleys and Rolls-Royces over the decades. In a recent conversation, Mr. Cooney noted that he took the newly acquired car to the well-known Bentley specialists Hoffman and Mountford and had them perform a full mechanical service before the car was shipped to the United States.

Upon its arrival stateside, the new owner began using his Bentley exhaustively, including driving it on two occasions from his home in Portland to the Pebble Beach Concours, where it was displayed – fresh off the road – in 1981 and 1982. On at least one of those journeys, Mr. Cooney’s friend, the Rolls-Royce and Bentley historian, Diane Brandon, recalls a late-night drive through the mountains with the lights on, something that even the hardiest enthusiasts might not undertake today. On another occasion, the car was driven all the way to Victoria, British Columbia, for a Rolls-Royce Owners Club meet.

In 1984, Mr. Cooney sold his well-traveled Bentley to the late, great collector, Gordon Apker, with whom it remained for the next two decades. During that time it was again returned to Pebble Beach, in 1985, memorably sharing the ramp with the famous “Blue Train” Bentley. It was then acquired for the collection of its current owner, in which it has been maintained since. Further restoration work was performed in the late 1990s, in which the car was refinished in its current livery, inside and out, and fitted with disc-style wheel covers, as it retains today.

Among the rarefied ranks of Speed Six Bentleys, in which every one is special and unique, none packs the sheer emotional punch of the car enthusiasts known as, simply, “GH 208.” Its dark visage stops even the most jaded enthusiasts in its tracks, turns heads even among a Pebble Beach field, and simply and purely is considered one of the most beautiful closed W.O. Bentleys ever constructed. On other cars such statements would be cliché, but on the Corsica Sportsman’s Saloon, they are simply grand reality.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more