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Bid On The World's Oldest-Known Bespoke Bentley To Book-End Your Brooklands

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On: Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 9:15AM | By: Andrew W Davis


Bid On The World's Oldest-Known Bespoke Bentley To Book-End Your Brooklands

When it comes to the winners of the world’s major automotive-endurance races, it’s usually the cars that have won the 24 at Le Sarthe that command the most respect and highest prices.

When buying a classic Bentley—cars once famously derided in-period by no less than Ettore Bugatti as the “world’s fastest trucks”—the same applies. And though you may not know it by looking at their modern line-up, Bentley was chief ass-kicker at Le Mans once upon a time, winning the full-day racing event outright four CONSECUTIVE times, 1927-1930.

Those winning “trucks”—and certain of their contemporaries—would easily be multimillion-plus-dollar cars if ever they were sold at auction, which they VERY rarely are. But those are the genesis for Bentley’s RACING heritage. What about the company itself? What would the VERY FIRST “bespoke” Bentley be worth? We’re about to find out…

Brought to you by the same auction house that’s selling the Whittell Duesenberg I covered a few features ago, Gooding & Co., and at the very same sale, the “oldest surviving production Bentley”—a 1921 3 Litre “Chassis 3”—will find itself on stage and under the gavel.

Here’s Gooding’s spiel on this automobile:

“One of the most important Bentleys in existence, this 1921 Bentley 3 Litre was the first customer car to leave the Bentley factory. Chassis 3 is an extraordinary, matching-numbers car with brass brightwork and an original aluminum body with fully disappearing top as specified by the first owner. It’s participation in Vintage Bentley rallies, and many other recent events, attests to the car’s usability. Chassis 3 is a special addition to Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach Auctions this August, and its estimate is available on request.”

Now I’m just a snot-nosed whippersnapper, so this car holds very little value for me, and I’d happily choose Whittell-the-lion-cub-owner’s Duesy—or most ANY Duesenberg, honestly—over it seven days a week and twice on Sunday.

I’m not a fan of cycle fenders, spindly wire wheels, fabric bodies, and pretty much anything else you’ll find on a car like Chassis 3. For me the 24 Hours winners I’d want are all post-WWII and/or German or Italian. But mostly German.

“And this,” I can hear the Bentley Boys cry from beyond the grave, “is why God has deemed you unworthy of the riches that buying a car like this requires.” “Oh, and while we’re at it,” they continue, “Tell Audi to knock it off. One win is great, four-in-a-row is legendary, but thirty-eleven or however many wins they have now is just crass showing-off.”

You can be in the presence of this fine automobile—what little there really is of it—at the “Pebble Beach Equestrian Center, one mile from the Pebble Beach Concours grounds and one of the many awe-locations along Carmel’s famed 17-Mile Drive.”

Also, “lots are available for viewing starting Wednesday, August 17, at 10 a.m. and continuing through the sale itself, held Saturday, Aug. 20, from 5 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 21, from 6 p.m.”

Got all that? If not, search for “Duesenberg” on this site and you can read the full run-down on the event at the bottom of that other car’s write-up. While you’re there, read all about the rootin’est, tootin’est and sharp-shootin’est man’s man that ever owned a lion and (several) Duesenbergs at the same time.

I see nothing in the Bentley’s description about lions. Gimme a good lion story to go with it and I’ll reconsider spending money I don’t have on a car I don’t deserve…


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