Auctions of Vintage and Classic Cars

Pebble Beach is renowned for its auctions of collectible classic and vintage automobiles. In 2014, the following three classic Bentleys are being auctioned by RM Auctions between Friday August 15th and Saturday August 16th.

1931 Bentley 8-Litre Spo.._Page_1

  • 1931 Bentley 8-Litre Sports Coupe Cabriolet by Barker  

    (presale estimate: $3.75 million – $4.75 million)

  • To be auctioned on Saturday, August 16, 2014


The gentleman sportsman reviewing the selection of fine automobiles available to him in 1930 would certainly have been tempted by the 8-Litre Bentley. For the man who had everything, it was the automobile that had everything.

Presence: It was over 20 feet long and as tall as a man, with an engine compartment more reminiscent of a locomotive than a car. Style: It was ideally proportioned for beautiful custom coachwork. Engineering: The exhaust pipe was asbestos-lagged, encased in aluminum to reduce resonance, and then coupled to a silencer the size of a 20-gallon waste bin. The starter engaged with surgical precision. Performance: Even with the heaviest custom coachwork, the 8-Litre was incredibly brisk and capable of 100 mph. 

“This car can be driven really softly on its high top gear, as slowly as a man walks, and can accelerate from that without snatch and without difficulty,” proclaimed The Autocar. 

In every sense, the 8-Litre was probably the greatest British automobile ever produced. Yet, only 100 chassis were built before the sheer cost of developing and building such a machine drove the company into receivership. Other Bentleys would come in the decades to come, but the 8-Litre was the last of the “W.O.s,” the great driver’s cars built under Mr. Bentley himself.

The majority of 8-Litre chassis were fitted with heavy, closed bodies, which were, for obvious reasons, often tossed aside by later owners and replaced with more sporting open coachwork. To find an 8-Litre with an open body that is the original for that chassis is extraordinarily rare, and most of those that do exist are four-passenger styles. Only a single 8-Litre was outfitted with two-passenger roadster bodywork when new, and that car is the one offered here today.


Chassis number YR 5099 was the forty-ninth 8-Litre Bentley built, and it was one of thirty-four 12-foot wheelbase chassis intended for more sporting bodywork. It was ordered by Sir P. Malcolm Stewart, who was the owner of the London Brick Company, the largest brick manufacturer in the United Kingdom at the time. Stewart’s firm was highly regarded for its exceptionally fine working conditions, and after helping the Labour government devise methods to reduce unemployment in England, he was made a baronet in 1937.

Sir Malcolm was a devout Bentley enthusiast who had earlier ordered a 6½-Litre Speed Six, chassis number LB2330. That car had been bodied by Barker & Company, the London coachbuilders to the British Royal Family and numerous Indian princes, which was renowned for the fine quality of their work on a variety of chassis. Barker’s design for the Stewart Speed Six was a dashing two-passenger roadster with flowing individual fenders, curved pontoon-style running boards, and a tail that tapered into a gently rounded point, reminiscent of a boat’s stern. In American parlance, it would have been called a “boattail” speedster. Barker dubbed it a sports coupe cabriolet.

The owner apparently enjoyed that car, as he ordered this 8-Litre chassis to be finished with a virtually identical design. Sir Malcolm is pictured behind the wheel of chassis number YR5099 on page 132 of Johnnie Green’s respected Bentley: Fifty Years of the Marque. He retained ownership of the car for five years, and in 1934, it underwent minor maintenance, which was followed by the addition of a D.W.S. jacking system.

In February 1935, the 8-Litre passed to its second owner, G. Stewart Ferguson of Birmingham, England. At some point before or during World War II, it was taken to Scotland, and following the war, it was owned by one J.A. MacHarg. Mr. MacHarg modified the rear of the body to convert it into a four-passenger car, which was the opposite of what usually happens with 8-Litre chassis, and he drove the Bentley for some time.

In the late 1970s, the car was acquired from Mr. MacHarg by well-known McLaren racing team associate, Formula One boss, and car collector Peter Agg. Mr. Agg oversaw the Bentley’s restoration to its elegant original form, which included reshaping the rear of the body in the style of its original Barker design. The car won First Place at the highly competitive Bentley Drivers Club Concours at Kensington Garden in 1983, prior to being sold stateside to Bentley expert Frank Miller. Miller displayed the car at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1987, where it wore a two-tone blue similar to its original finish.

For the past several years, chassis number YR5099 has received the best of care as part of one of Europe’s most prominent collections of fine pre-war automobiles, where it was looked after by noted Bentley historian and restorer Graham A. Moss. Most recently, a report was commissioned from esteemed Bentley authority Clare Hay, who is known for her painstaking research into every component of the surviving “W.O.” cars. Hay’s comprehensive report, which accompanies the car, records, all-importantly, that this sole original 8-Litre roadster retains its original chassis frame, engine (number YR5099), and gearbox.

All is sorted and in order underneath the bonnet, where you will find SU H08 carburetors correctly finished in eggshell black, a Bosch starter, a Whittle belt-drive fan, a Tecalemit one-shot pump, Smithermet shutter controls, Bosch fuse boxes, and a Bosch FG12 horn and bracket, and these are all to standard. Special-order Twin Delco distributors are still fitted, as when new.

When seated behind the 18-inch Bluemel-sprung steering wheel, the driver is presented with an impressive instrument panel, which includes a larger-than-standard (probably fitted to special order when new) AT speedometer and odometer, a Jaeger clock, a Weston ammeter, a Cambridge thermometer, a Bosch ignition switch and lighting/starter switch, a Lucas headlamp dimmer switch, a rectangular Hobson 25-gallon telegauge, and a Smiths 0–100 pound oil pressure gauge. The bespoke exhaust cut-out, which is operated by a floor lever, is still in place.

Lucas P100DB headlamps are still fitted, as are the Lucas snail-pattern sidelights and twin Lucas S220 metal-bodied “diver’s helmet” taillights. In addition, a correct Lucas spotlight is fitted to a bracket over the dynamo casing. The rare Grebel spotlight, which is easily adjustable by the driver to be used for reading road signs, is present, and all of these items are correct for 1931.

Driving an 8-Litre Bentley is at once familiar yet very distinct from a more modern car. First is its size. In a word, it is massive. Steering feels heavy yet still lighter than expected. In a long, sweeping curve, the steering-wheel-to-road surface sensation sends a very strong message to the driver. The car needs to be steered, as opposed to more modern cars that take themselves around the bends. 

An 8-Litre engine is heavy, its acceleration is thrilling, and one quickly senses the enormous power of its eight liters. W.O. Bentley began his career as a locomotive engineer, so it is not surprising that this car pulls like a train. The engine, when properly sorted, is whisper-quiet and smooth in comparison to many cars of that era, and the exhaust note is, in a word, “delicious,” especially at as it “burbles” at idle. The brakes are also surprisingly effective for stopping a 5,000-pound car. Once the gearbox has been mastered, it is immensely satisfying to know just exactly how many revs are required before one can slip the lever into gear with nary a crunch. The ride is quite smooth and comfortable; therefore, it’s easy to understand why these cars were favored for long-distance touring when new. If one should, indeed, need further assurance, they need only to take in the gleaming, menacing black lines.

This bespoke two-seater has been restored to the highest standard and is accompanied by documentation from noted historians to assure the new owner of its matching-numbers authenticity. As it is being offered for the first time at public auction, it is worthy of close consideration and inspection by all motoring enthusiasts and collectors alike. It is, quite simply, the ultimate “W.O.” Bentley.


1937 Bentley 4¼-Litre Op..

  • 1937 Bentley 4 1/4 –Litre Open Two-Seater by Carlton

    (presale estimate: $1.4 million – $1.6 million)

  • To be auctioned on Friday, August 15, 2014

126 bhp, 4,257 cc OHV inline six-cylinder engine with two SU carburetors, four-speed manual gearbox with synchromesh on the third and fourth gears, front and rear semi-elliptic spring suspension with hydraulic shock dampers, and four-wheel mechanical brakes with servo-assist. Wheelbase: 126 in.

  • A bespoke, one-off 4¼-Litre
  • Unique bodywork, with numerous special-order items
  • Matching numbers, with original body, engine, and gearbox
  • Competed in the RAC Blackpool and J.C.C. Brooklands rallies in 1939
  • Restored by renowned Bentley specialist Dale Powers

Rolls-Royce acquired Bentley Motors from Walter Owen Bentley in 1931 and then struggled for two years to design and build an appropriate car, one that would honor the “W. O. Bentley” sporting and racing heritage, yet one that would also not be confused with the more stately cars wearing the Rolls-Royce badge. The timing couldn’t have been any worse, as this was during the Great Depression. Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motors Works’ manager at Derby, E. W. Hives, CH MBE (developer of the Merlin aero engine and later the chairman of Rolls-Royce Ltd.), headed the team that was tasked with designing the all-new Bentley, which was set out to be a sports car that would appeal to a wide range of prospective buyers. 

His personal notes read, “Answer to the moods of the driver…be driven fast with safety…tour without fuss and noise…maximum speed should not be obtained at the expense of acceleration…controls, steering, and brakes shall be light to operate, and the braking shall be adequate for a fast car…maximum speed of the car on the road should be 90 mph, 75 mph in third gear.” 

The first “Rolls-Bentley,” a 3½-Litre model, was based on the current-series Rolls-Royce 20/25-horsepower chassis, but it was reconfigured to use the 20/25’s 2¾-liter engine. In 1936, the engine output was increased to 4¼ liters by using the Rolls-Royce 25/30-horsepower engine and chassis, but it came with a higher compression ratio (6.8:1 compared to 6:1) and the Rolls-Royce Stromberg downdraft single carburetor was substituted by dual SUs. The result was a fast, silky, exciting car that soon became known as the “Silent Sports Car.”

The Bentley cars that were produced in tandem with the Rolls-Royce cars of the 1930s have been, until recently, overlooked by collectors. This was due in part because they lacked the bulk and presence of the large-horsepower Rolls-Royce Phantom models, and also because so many Derby Bentley cars remained with their original owners in daily service for decades and weren’t offered for sale. They were often referred to as “Derbys,” as they were built in the shared Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motors Works in Derbyshire, England.

As was the custom in the 1930s, the new owner of the rolling Bentley chassis would have it sent to one of the bespoke coachbuilders, and they would build it to his specifications. Of the dozens of Bentley coachbuilders, Park Ward, Thrupp & Maberly, Vanden Plas, H.J. Mulliner, and Gurney Nutting were most often selected. Of the 1,234 Bentley 4¼-Litre chassis produced, over 530 were bodied by Park Ward, and most of them were steel saloons. 


Carlton, a more exclusive body builder, bodied only a few Derby Bentley cars. The company was originally known as the E.B. Hall & Company, a North London horse-drawn carriage maker, but it evolved into designing and building very special car bodies on a few select Daimler, Rolls-Royce, and Bentley chassis. After they were licensed to produce the revolutionary Weymann fabric bodies, they changed the company name to Carlton Carriage Company. Of the four Carlton bodies fitted to 4¼-Litre chassis, the car offered here, chassis number B55KU, is the only two-seater open tourer ever built. The others were a sedanca coupe, a saloon, and a four-seater drophead coupe.

Carlton achieved quite an accomplishment with this exceedingly rare two-seat model, as he created a drophead that was just as attractive with the hood up as it was when lowered to its concealed-hood position. By positioning the touring spare in the front wing rather than the boot lid, the resulting profile became streamlined and elegant. The combination of Ace deluxe wheel discs (also known as “Easi-Clean”), a vintage Bentley-type fold-down twin aeroscreen (often called the Brooklands windscreen), a correct slanted Winged B mascot (which must be turned 90 degrees before the bonnet can be opened without chipping the paint), and its original Marschal headlamps and centrally mounted driving lamp result in a seriously appealing body style. Under the bonnet, the correctly restored and impeccable engine compartment properly stores the correct road tools. These are often missing, but they are preserved with this car and tidily fit in a tray under the boot floor’s carpeting. The period-correct color scheme of its midnight blue exterior and saddle tan interior is a perfect pairing.

No detail has been overlooked within the interior, as it was clearly designed for the owner who loves to take the wheel. Among the special-order instruments included with this car, as validated by the accompanying Works chassis card orders, is an extremely rare Smiths tachometer with a clock built into its center top. The instrument layout is equally atypical, with the speedometer and tachometer to the left of the driver’s position, and the ignition and lamp switches have been placed even farther to the left, in front of the single-passenger seat. As the car is a one-off design, it is presumed that this may be one of the first uses for this dash layout before it became standard on later cars.

This car carries no stories, nor feigned history. The entire history of the car is documented not only in original order records and Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club-supplied ownership history but also in the car’s appearance in several archival publications, including All the Pre-War Bentleys as New by Stanley Sedgwick, on page 109, and Bentley: Fifty Years of the Marque by Johnnie Green, where a photo and identifying chassis number appear on page 208.

The car’s first owner was Gordon C. Wood, of Weybridge, Surrey, England, who accepted delivery from renowned Bentley dealer H. R. Owen on July 14, 1937. He clearly was one of the early car enthusiasts, as he specified the car was to be prepared “for use in town and touring.” He went on to compete in several rallies in 1939, including at the Royal Automobile Club’s Blackpool Rally and the prestigious J.C.C. Brooklands Rally.

Mr. Wood sold the car to H. G. Holcroft, of Shropshire, England, on September 18, 1938. On New Years’ Day in 1956, the car was sold to R. Guy, of Wolverhampton, England, who then sold it to its first U.S. owner in 1966. Then, around 1993, well-known and highly respected Bentley owner, restorer, and driver Dale Powers, of Florida, acquired this Bentley, and over the next decade, he managed its complete restoration. Afterwards, Powers and his wife enjoyed the car and participated in numerous car club caravans, tours, and meets. They sold chassis B55KU to Bill Jacobs in 1999, and he had it refinished in its current midnight blue and saddle tan hide interior, and he also had the mechanical restoration refreshed. The current owner acquired the car approximately eight years ago, and he confirms that the car continues to perform as it should and describes it as fast and handling well.

Exceptional and rare unmolested Derby Bentley cars with original engines and coachwork are in great demand by astute collectors. Honest examples like this unique, one-off two-seater open Derby Bentley are a superb investment, and they also provide great enjoyment to their owners while behind the wheel.


1953 Bentley R-Type Cont..

  • 1953 Bentley R-Type Continental Sports Saloon by H.J. Mulliner

    (presale estimate: $900,000 – $1.3 million)

  • To be auctioned on Friday, August 15, 2014

178 bhp, 4,887 cc overhead inlet and side exhaust valve inline six-cylinder engine with twin SU carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with open helical springs and hydraulic shock dampers, semi-elliptic rear suspension with controllable hydraulic shock dampers, and servo-assisted hydraulic front and mechanical rear brakes. Wheelbase: 120 in.

  • The 1953 Geneva Salon show car
  • Factory “seats and spats,” with manual gearbox
  • Numerous bespoke special-order items
  • Original engine and factory tool set
  • Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club documentation


In the early 1930s, Rolls-Royce began to experiment with aerodynamic designs, often based on the chassis of the Bentley, “The Silent Sports Car.” After World War II, streamlined prewar prototypes such as the Mk II (“Scalded Cat”) and Corniche were revisited, and H.I.F. Evernden and H.J. Mulliner designer J.P. Blatchley conspired to create a lightweight, aerodynamic Bentley capable of carrying four adults in the highest comfort. They aimed “to produce a car which would not only look beautiful but possess a high maximum speed, coupled with a correspondingly high rate of acceleration, together with excellent handling and roadability.”

Body, window, and seat frames would be built of light alloy, resulting in a four-place body that weighed only 750 pounds, less than 4,000 pounds together with the chassis. Frame, suspension, steering, and brake components were shared with the Mark VI series and the later standard R-Type, with final modifications and tuning at the Rolls-Royce Lille Hall service depot in Earls Court, London. While coachbuilt bodies were being built and fitted, Bentley representatives reportedly visited the panel-beaters, ensuring that all work was being done in a workmanlike manner, and Bentley Motors thoroughly tested and inspected the cars prior to delivery to their original owners.

The resulting R-Type Continental, the first production Bentley to wear that now-famous name, is perhaps the most desirable postwar Bentley, combining superior performance with glorious design and advanced aerodynamics. Memorably described by Autocar as being “a modern magic carpet, annihilating great distances,” it was best remembered with the streamlined H.J. Mulliner bodywork that Blatchley had originally penned for the chassis. This streamlined fastback Sports Saloon became the iconic coachwork for the R-Type Continental, and of the 207 chassis built between May 1952 and April 1955, 193 were bodied by Mulliner.


The R-Type Continental was produced in five series, A through E, with the A cars representing the earliest and purest version of the design. Chassis number BC20A was the 19th car produced in the A series, and therefore, the 19th R-Type Continental produced. (Superstitious in the charming way that British automakers often are, Bentley skipped chassis number 13.)

Original build information supplied by the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club, copies of which are on file, record this car’s well-equipped custom specification. Like most of the Mulliner fastbacks, it was equipped with full “spats” over the rear wheels; desirably, it was also equipped with the lightweight adjustable seats, making it one of the rare early “seats and spats” examples. Other special-ordered equipment included flashing-type turn indicators with amber glasses, double-filament headlamps with convex lenses, high-frequency horns with a muting switch, a speedometer in kilometers, and two fog lamps! Heavier front shock dampers and a special steering gear were specified, to improve handling, and a 17-inch high-speed engine fan and unique radiator were ordered to improve cooling. A radio was fitted; this was included in the R-Type Continental’s standard price, but in an effort to save weight, would only be installed at the owner’s request.

According to the RREC, the car was shown at the Geneva Salon in the spring of 1953, shortly after its delivery on February 19th to Louis Schneiter, Esq., a resident of Villa “Bois-Fleuri” in Coffet, Vaud, Switzerland. It remained in Europe until January 1, 1960, and was then acquired by its first American owner, Lamont Haggarty.

Eventually the car was acquired by the late Anthony “Bud” Korteweg of River Edge, New Jersey, founder of The Coachworks, a well-regarded Rolls-Royce and Bentley restoration facility that won numerous awards over the years in national competition. He remains the only person to have won the Rolls-Royce Owners Club Best in Show award three times. A man who believed in what he restored, Mr. Korteweg collected Rolls-Royce and Bentley himself, eventually amassing seven well-kept automobiles in the imposing Tudor-style garage of his home. The R-Type Continental was completely restored from the wheels up to its original appearance in Mr. Korteweg’s capable care, and it was the final automobile restored for his personal use.

Not merely a well-kept show car, this R-Type Continental is also a splendid driver. Recently test-driven by an RM Auctions specialist, it was reported to “idle smoothly, with a soft burbling exhaust note at speed, with brakes that work well. It rides and handles as well as any automobile I have ever been inside!” Offered with original tools and owner’s manual, it remains the perfect high-speed tour car for today, a testament to the greatness of the Bentley tradition.

Offered today as it stood at Geneva in 1953, this car assures its next owner of many proud years of ownership, as well as invitations to the most prestigious car events and concours in the world—events that can be reached quite swiftly and comfortably behind the wheel of the original Continental.

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