1925 Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model Tourer by Vanden Plas
Sold For $335,000Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.
RM | Sotheby's - AMELIA ISLAND 6 - 7 MARCH 2020 - The Todd and Peggy Nagler Collection
- Offered from the Todd and Peggy Nagler Collection
- The centerpiece of the collection since 1975
- Driven extensively all over the country by the Nagler family
- An authentic Speed Model with its original chassis and coachwork
- Documented in a detailed report by vintage Bentley expert Clare Hay
- Extensive, exhaustive history and maintenance file
- One of the very best-known, longest-owned examples of its kind
A veteran of designing RAF aeroengines during World War I, W.O. Bentley next created a sporting motor car unequaled in its era. The 3-Litre saw production of 1,624 cars in three wheelbase configurations and three performance levels, including the aptly named Speed Model with its distinctive red radiator badge, or “Red Label.” Quality control was peerless; Bentley preferred customers send their chassis to one of a hundred coachbuilders approved by the company, and then inspected the finished car thoroughly before allowing it to be sold; each 3-Litre carried a five-year guarantee!
THE NAGLER 3-LITRE: CHASSIS NUMBER 1108
Chassis number 1108 was originally delivered to a J. L. Loftus in August 1925 equipped with Vanden Plas “sporting four-seater” body no. 1172, as noted in the build records maintained by the W.O. Bentley Memorial Foundation. Regular services are recorded for the car through 1936. In December 1949 the Bentley was recorded as being owned by one K. J. Dangerfield, followed by A. Terrill, Charles Meredith, and Charles Tudsbury. Mr. Meredith corresponded with the Bentley Drivers Club, who informed him of the change to the present correct 3-Litre engine, no. SR 1424, and noted that the brakes had been converted to hydraulic specification by Dangerfield. According to vintage Bentley expert Clare Hay, engine no. SR 1424 was fitted in the mid- to late 1930s and was a “big sump” version that would help prepare the Bentley for “competition work.” This is further supported by pre-war competition photos taken of the car at Donington adorned in racing number 33. Another note in the file indicates that the car was still being driven in a spirited manner well after the war, having taken 1st in Class at the Bentley Drivers Club Concours in both 1956 and 1957.
In 1961 the car was purchased by Edward C. Selfe, who retained ownership of it for 14 years. In 1975 it became available and, following considerable detailed correspondence between both parties, was sold late in the year to Charles Nagler. Thus began a span of ownership that has continued longer than nearly any other vintage Bentley in the United States—45 years with one family.
The Naglers’ typical detailed level of research into correctness and finishes began virtually upon delivery. Skilled local craftsman and fellow 3-Litre owner Connie Bouchard completed significant mechanical sorting during 1976, including rebuilding the engine with rebabbited pistons and new bearings, rebuilding the carburetors and magnetos, and crafting a new exhaust system. Hofmann & Mountfort supplied correct new springs as part of the Naglers’ long and methodical process to continually maintain and upgrade performance using correct and authentic replacement parts, including the sourcing of its correct original type SU G5 “sloper” carburetors.
Indications are that the car was first shown by the family at an Antique and Classic Car Club of Canada meet in 1977, before much of the restoration had been undertaken. The completed car was entered into Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club competition at the National Meet in 1992, achieving 92 out of 100 points, with Todd Nagler showing it for his family. In correspondence to a former owner, he noted that he had personally completed the mechanical and bodywork restoration, with only paint and upholstery done by others. British craftsman John Hunt also contributed greatly to the work, helping to source and fabricate numerous rare parts. The car was regularly driven from 500 to 1,000 miles every year of the Naglers’ ownership, attending numerous Bentley Drivers Club rallies and functions in the Midwest. Most recently it was exhibited in 2019 at the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club National Meet in Troy, Michigan.
Accompanying the car is, of course, the highly detailed Nagler history file, including correspondence with owners back to the 1950s, and virtually complete records of restoration and maintenance since the Naglers’ 1975 acquisition, down to Connie Bouchard and John Hunt’s copious, meticulously detailed handwritten notes regarding the rebuilding of virtually every component. Also included for prospective buyers’ review is a detailed report of 1108 by vintage Bentley expert Clare Hay documenting this car from its origin to present day.
The 3-Litre Speed Model is a fabulous automobile, and no one has known that better than the Nagler family, who have driven this car many, many thousands of miles. It has been the centerpiece and prize of the collection, and it is Peggy Nagler’s sincere hope that it continues to cover many miles more, bringing a new owner the happiness it brought her husband and his family over the last 45 years.