Monterey | Lot 338
1927 Bentley 6½-Litre Le Mans Sports in the style of Vanden Plas
$1,160,000 USD | Sold
| Monterey, California
17 August 2019
- An original 6½-Litre with its original frame, engine, and rear axle
- Painstakingly restored and uprated to Le Mans Works team-car specifications
- Veteran of a 3,000-mile Bentley Drivers Club tour of Europe and two Colorado Grands
- Offered with build information, service records, and restoration photographs
- Exceptional presentation and evocative history—and outstanding performance to match
Like its future corporate stablemate, Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motors in the W.O. era practiced steady evolution of a proven design. The original 3-Litre begat the 4½-Litre, then grew again into the 6½-Litre, an overhead-cam six-cylinder design with four valves per cylinder and a single-piece iron engine block and cylinder head, resulting in impressive power (147 hp in standard tune), massive torque, and robust strength. Its chassis was upgraded with a dry-plate clutch and power-assisted four-wheel brakes with finned drums.
While originally designed for touring use—to carry heavier coachwork while maintaining Bentley’s level of performance—it was the 6½-Litre that propelled Bentley to its competition zenith by winning the Bentley team victory at Le Mans in 1929 and 1930. It grew the legends of the men who piloted it: Barnato, Birkin, and Kidston, “Bentley Boys” all.
CHASSIS NUMBER BX2416
According to information on file from the W.O. Bentley Memorial Foundation, 6½-Litre chassis no. BX2416 was originally supplied to Dr. Rudolph de Trafford of London, as a 12'6" (150 in.) wheelbase model with a Weymann saloon body by J. Gurney Nutting. In this form the car underwent maintenance by Bentley Motors through 1930. The next known owner, C. Willis of Basingstroke, acquired the car in 1932 and is known to have maintained it for at least the next three years.
Following the Second World War, the car appears to have been acquired by Major Jack Bailey, a sportsman who rebuilt it as a special, shortening its chassis to 124 in., lowering the radiator, and fitting a rudimentary two-seater body, as well as the registration plate PF 6204 of his 3-Litre. In this form the car was used extensively for regional racing and touring.
The Bentley’s next definite owner was R.G.S. Burnett, who registered it with the Club in 1962. Barry Graham Burnett registered it in 1972 and by the following decade had fitted the car with a Vanden Plas–style Le Mans fabric tourer body, as well as reunited it with its original registration plate, YF 4648.
Well-known marque specialist David Ayres acquired the 6½-Litre from Burnett in 2008 and shortly thereafter sold it to noted enthusiast Ron Rezek of Ashland, Oregon.
In an accompanying book documenting the car and its restoration, Mr. Rezek notes his delight at finding that the car retained much of its original chassis frame, as well as the original engine, steering box, and rear axle. He commissioned Mr. Ayres to restore the car as authentically as possible to 1930 Le Mans team-car specification with numerous Speed Six features. This included modifying the engine to full competition specification, with twin HV5 carburetors fitted with 8-liter float chambers, an 8-liter water pump, special oil feed to the camshaft, and a large-capacity oil pump; it is fed by a Le Mans–style 40-gallon fuel tank, custom-made to the original Works team specifications, and produces some 200 horsepower.
The 132 in. chassis was outfitted with Andre Hartford friction shock absorbers, 3:1 gears, and all-new brake drums and spindles, while the correct Rexine-covered body was dressed with proper Zeiss headlamps in Le Mans–style frames. Great care was taken to finish the car as properly as possible while also setting it up for continued long-distance enjoyment.
Mr. Rezek enjoyed the car for several years, exhibiting it at the Bentley Club Concours d’Elegance in 2010 and winning Best Restoration. He was proud that it was a fit road machine, something that he demonstrated on two editions of the Colorado Grand and an epic 3,000-mile tour of Europe with the Bentley Drivers Club, conquering the Stelvio Pass and other formidable stretches through the Alps.
This is a 6½-Litre Bentley true to the legend—every enthusiast’s image of the rip-snorting, all-conquering fabric tourer of Bentley Boys fame, restored and presented for high-speed driving enjoyment well into the future.