Lot 152

1931 Bentley 8-Litre Special


$423,000 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida



Engine No.
Chassis No.
US Title
  • A thrilling 8-Litre, built to drive and enjoy
  • One of only 100 8-Litre examples built; rebodied in period as a roadster
  • Exciting 1960s racing history at numerous UK circuits
  • Formerly owned by Frank Sowden and Victor Gauntlett
  • Offered from single caring ownership since 1983
  • Ideal for touring events such as the Colorado Grand and the Copperstate 1000
Addendum: Please note that this lot is titled by its engine number, YF5006. Additionally, its chassis number is YM5029.

An evolution of the competition-proven Speed Six, the Bentley 8-Litre was a crowning achievement for the Cricklewood-based automaker; this sophisticated six-cylinder automobile realized company founder W.O. Bentley’s dream of melding race-bred performance and ultra-exclusive luxury. The 8-Liter would come at quite a cost, however, for both potential buyers and the automaker itself; production ceased after Bentley’s acquisition by Rolls-Royce, with only 100 chassis completed.

The mighty 8-Litre powerplant in this car, engine number YF5006, was originally placed in an H.J. Mulliner Weymann fabric-paneled saloon; the car was prominently exhibited at the 1930 Olympia Motor Show prior to delivery to Sir William Crawford. The car is noted by renowned Bentley historian Clare Hay in her book Bentley: The Vintage Years as having been built to its present two-seater form by a Mr. Sutherland. Stampings indicate that its chassis, as well as its steering box and the shell for its lowered radiator, came from Bentley YM5029. The result was thrilling indeed, and a "special" that was likely among the most potent 8-Litres ever to rule the road.

In the early 1960s this car, registered PPB 110, was acquired by Frank Sowden, a longtime enthusiast who, as his son Peter later noted, used it as his "everyday car - we would go to work in the 8-Litre, go shopping in the 8-Litre, and of course go racing [with] the Bentley, plus travel up to Scotland to have fun at the Scottish BDC Whit weekend." Frank Sowden competed in the car at such varied venues at Silverstone and Oulton Park; in 1964, at the Harewood Hill Climb, he made the third best time in his class, second only to two E-Type Jaguars!

Eventually the car was sold through Dan Margulies to the late, great British industrialist, enthusiast, and Bentley connoisseur, Victor Gauntlett, by which point it had been updated to its present roadgoing trim, with fenders, headlamps, and an "emergency" canvas top, which is still in good condition. Gauntlett sold it in 1983 to its present owner, in whose hands it has been kept in fine running and driving condition. He notes that the car has been well maintained in very presentable condition, and that in 2009 the engine was rebuilt by Neil Davies Historic Racing, with a new engine block, crankshaft, crankshaft housing, rods, and pistons, readying it for many more years of enthusiastic driving enjoyment. In fact, the current owner notes it will do 100 mph and has cruised on the interstate at 80 with no problems.

In the world of "W.O." Bentleys, few provide so much sheer, raw excitement, and the true "Bentley Boys" experience. It is a wonderful way to enjoy tremendous performance, among the finest of its era, on the Colorado Grand, Copperstate 1000, and any other number of vintage tours and rallies all over the world.