Replacing the Bentley 3 Litre, the 4 ½ Litre with its advanced four-valves-per-cylinder 4,398cc four-cylinder engine producing 82kW in touring trim fulfilled W.O.Bentley’s famous slogan “There’s no replacement for displacement”.
A total of 720 4½ Litre vehicles were produced in three different models –Tourer, Drophead Coupé and Sporting Four Seater– between 1927 and 1931 before Bentley was forced to sell his company to Rolls-Royce as a result of the recession that hit Europe following the Wall Street Crash of 1929.
The vehicle being auctioned by Shannons is believed to be one of the last of its type produced and was delivered new to a Captain C.D.Leyland in the UK in July, 1930.
Well-known Mosman, Sydney sewing machine importer and avid Bentley enthusiast Alan Mingaye already had a 4½ Litre Bentley tourer, when in 1957 he found the car in Turramurra, NSW.
It had been standing out in the weather under a tree for a couple of years, with its engine and transmission removed and disassembled, awaiting a full rebuild.
The imposing Black four-door saloon with its rich Claret leather and polished wood interior had been imported by Peter Cox some years earlier and Mingaye was fascinated by its original fabric coachwork, as most 4½ Litre Bentleys in Australia have been turned into ‘Green Boy Racers’. So he sold his tourer to fund its purchase.
In 1980, well-known Sydney coachbuilder George Williams of Camperdown, NSW was engaged to carry out a full body-off-chassis restoration, but around 1988 Mingaye’s health deteriorated and was unable to drive the Bentley regularly for any great distance.
Nevertheless it was started and exercised regularly in the back streets of Mosman until Mingaye’s death last year.
Due of its provenance and condition, but above all, its rare original bodywork, this Bentley could be a contender for invitations to overseas events.
Given its world market appeal, Shannons conservatively expect the Bentley to sell in the $320,000-$360,000 range.
An added attraction is the opportunity to acquire the Bentley’s original NSW plate GH 1537, which replicates its UK registration number when delivered to Captain Leyland. The NSW plate is currently on hold with the RTA should the successful buyer wish to acquire it.