9 March 2013
1925 Bentley 3-Litre Tourer by Gurney Nutting
- Chassis no. 930
- Engine no. 914
- Registration no. CR9914
Sold for $231,000
- One of just 143 3-Litres bodied by Gurney Nutting
- Original, preserved chassis, engine, body, and UK license plate
- Complete ownership trail from new; numerous awards included
The first Bentley sports cars were unequaled in their time. After designing aero-engines for the R.A.F. in WWI, Walter Owen Bentley redirected his attention to motor cars. Launched in 1921, his first model was intended to appeal to sportsmen of the motoring world. Powered by a three-liter, 2,966-cubic centimeter four-cylinder engine, it was an immediate success. In January 24, 1920, The Autocar published their first road test: “A Car which Combines Docility in Traffic with Exceptional Speed Potentiality on the Open Road.” The car was continually improved, as The Autocar of January 16, 1925, read, “Impressions of the Latest Model, which is Suitable Alike for the Speed Lover and the Potterer.”
New Bentley 3-Litre buyers included Prince George, the Duke of Kent, and the actresses Beatrice Lillie and Gertrude Lawrence. The example offered here was delivered in February 1925 to John McMeekin, of Southampton, England, and it remains today largely as it was when new, a rarity among this marque. Engine and body swaps on vintage Bentley chassis were common, often to resemble the 3-Litre Tourers that won Le Mans in 1924 and 1927. Fortunately, this car’s body, by noted coachbuilder J. Gurney Nutting, has remained with the chassis and is in remarkably well-preserved condition.
McMeekin retained the Bentley until the 1940s; its second British owner, Captain Ivan Finchow, of Lygarth, Dorset, sold it to Tennessee Rolls-Royce dealer Neil McDade, and it has resided stateside ever since. From McDade, the car passed to noted collector Barney Goldflies, of Ohio, then to Richard Fisher, and finally to George Evenson, of Washington state. The car’s ownership history has been archived since new by Bentley Motors and the enthusiasts’ clubs, and as a result, this Bentley is well-known.
A Bentley like this “Blue Label” tourer is rare. It has survived for 87 years in constant use, but it was always well-maintained and protected. Its Gurney Nutting four-seater body, era-correct British Racing Green paint finish, alloy bonnet, correct nickel-plated radiator shell and brightwork, dual side-mount spares, tan leather interior, full tonneau cover, Auster rear screen, and walnut fascia, displaying original and functional gauges by Smiths, Cambridge, and AT, could not be re-created in any restoration. Its only modifications are twin SU carburetors and accessory electric cooling fans.
The car has been shown at multiple Rolls-Royce Owners Club events over the years, as well as in AACA and CCCA competition. Its honors include a CCCA National First Prize and class placings at RROC meets in British Columbia and at the National Meet.
Fully sorted and ready for touring and club activities, this is the perfect car for the serious collector who loves to use cars. Powerful and responsive to drive, with honest provenance, it is complete and original, reliable, and mechanically straight-forward. This is one of those rare breeds, an under-valued, honest vintage Bentley with no “stories.”
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