20th Sep, 2023 12:00

30th Anniversary Sale at The Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire

  Lot 401

1927 Bentley 3/4½-Litre Tourer
Long-term family ownership believed to wear an original Vanden Plas body

Sold for £198,333

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: YT 9483
Chassis No: ML1521
MOT: Exempt

  • In single-family ownership for nearly sixty years
  • Desirable combination of 4½ Litre engine installed aboard a shortened (9' 9½" wheelbase) chassis
  • Believed an original Vanden Plas Four Seat Tourer body with Le Mans wings
  • Matching original chassis, front axle and rear axle numbers

"It was not the means whereby the 3-Litre Bentley performed, but the manner in which it did it, that endeared the car to sportsmen who took pride in their driving. The engine was remarkably flexible, strong and reliable, the gear ratios were admirably chosen, the handling excellent and the quality unremittingly high. So, also, was the price, but an ever-growing reputation, augmented by striking racing victories, including the Le Mans 24 hours of 1924 and 1927, ensured its success" - 'Classic Sports Cars' by Cyril Posthumus and David Hodges.

A railway engineering apprentice turned aero-engine designer, Walter Owen Bentley previewed his first creation, the immortal 3-Litre, at the October 1919 London Motor Show (though, he would not deem it production ready for another two years). Inspired by a 1914 Humber TT racer, the newcomer's ladder-frame chassis was equipped with all-round semi-elliptic leaf-sprung suspension and rear-wheel drum brakes (four-wheel brakes becoming the norm from 1924 onwards). The car's heart and most advanced feature was its 2996cc engine. A long-stroke four-cylinder (80mm x 149mm) that prioritized torque over top-end power, it boasted a five-bearing crankshaft, shaft-driven overhead camshaft, monobloc construction, twin ignition, four valves per cylinder and aluminium pistons. Developing between 65bhp and 88bhp, the unit was allied to a separate four-speed gate-change gearbox. Supplied in bare chassis guise only, albeit with a choice of wheelbase lengths and engine tune, the 3-Litre remained in production until 1929 by which time some 1,621 are thought to have been made. As well as its two Le Mans victories, the Bentley enjoyed considerable success at Brooklands and even broke the 24-hour world record around Montlhery setting a 95mph average speed.

According to the Dr Clare Hay book, 'Bentley - The Vintage Years', chassis ML 1521 was delivered and first registered as 'YT 9483' (the same number plate it pleasingly retains today) in September of 1927 as a standard 10ft 10ins wheelbase car that was clothed with Gurney Nutting Weyman Saloon coachwork. The car was purchased by Mr Shotton in the late 1960s and was fully restored to its current configuration over the next seven years including shortening of the chassis to 9ft 9½ ins and the fitment of what is thought to be an original Vanden Plas Four Seater Tourer body. We note that the bonnet cowling and the magneto switch plate both display the number 761 and the workmanship and aging is consistent of the quality of the period. On inspection, the original chassis number appears present on the front dumb iron, front axle (although this has worn over time) and the rear axle. Mr Shotton managed to get the car into working order in the early 1970s and his widowed wife (who is the vendor) fondly remembers wrapping up her youngest son with a blanket in her arms for the initial test runs. In this period, the body was painted in White with the wings in Black and the colour was later changed to the Brooklands Green over Black that she presents in now. As with all of the real enthusiast-owned cars, Mr Shotton continuously upgraded the car as he believed in using it and in the early 2010s he fitted a 4.5 Litre engine and the original C-Type gearbox fitted was rebuilt with straight cut gears. Unfortunately, due to Mr Shotton’s passing a few years ago, the family have decided that it is time to move the car onto a new owner. There is a large history file present with the car that documents nearly every part of its history including all of the invoices that Mr Shotton received during his ownership, a buff logbook and a receipt for the body.

The car presents in a gorgeous condition as she has naturally aged so very well with the passing of time. Do not expect a concours car, but that is not what this is about! She is proudly displaying all of the use that the Shotton family have given her since being built in the 1960s. The paint is still very presentable overall – the blemishing is largely in areas of high traffic such as where the driver positions their arm against the body during driving. The brown leather interior is very pleasingly patinated in exactly the way that you would hope for from a 1927 Bentley and the dashboard gauges appear to be of original type and appear very presentable and in working order.

On inspection, the car presents as a very looked-after machine. Mr Shotton was an engineer by trade and regularly serviced the car himself before he passed away and his sons have kept up traditions by keeping lubricants topped up and running the car out regularly. The 4 ½ Litre engine was built up by a specialist on re-cast crankcases so there is no engine number present, but it has evidently been done to an extremely high standard. As the car was built to be used, the engine was fitted with a Phoenix Crank and Conrods and a new lightened flywheel. The original magnetos and “Sloper” SU carburettors were moved to this engine from the 3 Litre that was previously fitted (which was not a matching numbers unit to the chassis and was subsequently sold off). The original C-Type gearbox was upgraded with straight-cut gears from Brineton Engineering and fitted with an overdrive unit and a modern-style plate clutch was fitted. As you can guess this car is no slouch and the upgrades have made it one of the easiest Cricklewood Bentleys to drive! Although this work was completed over 10 years ago, the car has barely covered 1,000 miles since so effectively has just been run in!

If you are looking for a WO Bentley that is usable, fast and has a remarkable story then this could be the car for you! The upgrades have made it a very usable machine and the condition of the car pulls you back into the driver’s seat time and time again as you feel as if you don’t have to be scared of using it! We will be posting a video on YouTube that tells more about the story of the car and the family’s connection with it – the question is who is now going to add to its rich history?

For more information, please contact:
Lucas Gomersall
07484 082430


Auction: 30th Anniversary Sale at The Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 20th Sep, 2023

Established in 1993, H&H has sold some of the world's most significant motorcars and motorcycles over the past 30 years. Now owned by its employees and trusted by over 75,000 clients worldwide, we are the longest established auction house of our kind in Europe.


Buyers, bidders and attendees will enjoy a special day in the prestigious Imperial War Museum with some fantastic treats including.
Drinks Reception   |   Music   |   Guest Speakers

With each successful bidder receiving a specially selected hamper.

Watch the website for more details.


To take part in the bidding action please click 'Register to Bid | Sign In' at the top of the page



Tuesday 19th September 2023 from 1pm to 8pm
Wednesday 20th September 2023 from 9am


View all lots in this sale

All successful bids must be paid in full by midday the day after the auction at the latest.

You can collect your new pride and joy from our venue until 1pm the day following the sale or our partners are on hand to help arrange safe transportation:


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If you prefer to speak to humans, don't hesitate to call our office on +44 (0)1925 210035

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