1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter Le Mans Boattail / MS 3944 Chassis Information

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter photograph

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter photograph

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter photograph

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter photograph

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter photograph

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter photograph

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter photograph

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter photograph

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter photograph

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter photograph

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter photograph

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter photograph

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter photograph

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter
Le Mans Boattail
Coachwork: Vanden Plas
Chassis #: MS 3944
Engine #: MS 3941
Sold for $4,647,500 at 2013 Bonhams - Quail Lodge Auction.
Bentley had proven to be one of the first manufacturers to enjoy something of a dynasty at Le Mans. Entering big, powerful 3 and 4 ½-liter cars, Bentley would enjoy a run of success at Le Mans that would make the company the envy, and the target, of manufacturers everywhere. By the 1930s, Bentley was still earning victories, but the competition was beginning to gain an advantage in performance. Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin had won the 24 hour race back in 1929 in the large Bentley Speed Six. The Speed Six would become the most successful of the Bentley machines. Birkin believed, however, in the 4 ½-liter supercharged model.

W.O. Bentley didn't believe in the idea of supercharging an engine. Not only did he find the supercharger loud and just more that could go wrong, he believed that more power simply came from larger engines. His famous 'Bentley Boys' didn't all see it that way.

Although many of the major manufacturers would avoid Le Mans and some other races specifically because of the Bentley's presence, it wasn't as though those companies were sitting idle. Bentley had achieved his success focusing on reliability and performance over great handling. Then Alfa Romeo debuted its 8C 2300, which combined power, performance and reliability into a tidy car that could handle. Birkin and others believed such cars made it necessary to keep smaller engines and try to extract extra power from them.

Bentley was broke. He approached one of his wealthy drivers, Woolf Barnato, to invest in the company. He would do so. But, doing so meant W.O. no longer had any control over his company. Therefore, plans for the supercharged 4 1/2 –liter Bentley would go ahead. But although the blown 4 ½-liter Bentley would be produced it would end up fulfilling W.O. Bentley's prophecy of never winning a race despite coming close more than a few times.

In spite of the lack of success on the track, and in spite of Bentley's own views, the simple fact of the matter was that the supercharged 4 ½-liter Bentley produced 175bhp compared to the 110 produced by the regular 4 ½-liter. This increase in power meant an increase in speed and that meant the blown-Bentley would be attractable to the affluent with the means, and the desire, to go fast.

Making its first appearance at the 1929 London Motor Show, the only hope for the blown 4 ½-liter, even if it had been more successful, would have been the affluent as the economic situation in the United States would reach far and wide and the company would have trouble selling the fifty required.

As a result of the troubled economic conditions Bentley would be forced to offer the blown 4 1/2 –liter car in more guises than just a sports tourer. No matter what model, each one of the fifty would be quite rare and meaningful. However, there would be three that would be a bit more prominent than the others.

Chassis MS 3941 would be one of three very special supercharged 4 ½-liter Bentleys. The reason for the three significant Bentleys would be the fact that they would be the only ones actually listed within the company as Le Mans chassis. This meant each one of the three would be produced and delivered with lightweight specifications.

Henry Leeson owned a number of butcher shops throughout southern England. Besides being a connoisseur within the meat industry, Leeson was also a connoisseur of Bentleys and always seemed to have, or at least was able to get, the latest and sportiest the company offered. When it came to the blown 4 ½-liter Bentley he didn't want to just make do with one of the other body styles offered. He wanted an example to be produced for him that would be as if it were being produced for Le Mans itself.

The Le Mans Bentley would all have the same coachwork. Fashioned by Vanden Plas, the Le Mans coachwork would be made of stretched fabric to provide a lightweight coach to sit atop the massive Bentley chassis. But its Le Mans specifications wouldn't stop there. The rigidity of the coachwork would be increased just ahead of the 'spare' seats per the regulations. The engine would include special order high compression pistons, close 'D' type gearbox and a 25 gallon fuel tank fashioned from Le Mans examples. The car would even have a non-standard clutch stop disc and hydraulic shock absorbers.

About the only departure from the Le Mans specification blown 4 ½-liter Bentleys and MS 3944 would be its color. Instead of the traditional British Racing Green, Leeson's Bentley would be finished in a light shade of gray.

When Leeson took delivery of the car he would take advantage of the power and performance coming from the inline 4-cylinder engine and would take part in a number events, especially at Brooklands. Leeson would have the car until 1932 when C.B. Myers became the car's proud new owner. The Bentley would come to Myers just in time to make the journey to the United States where it would reside until 1938.

In 1938, the Bentley would make the move north to the Canadian city of Winnepeg as the property of William Johnson. Johnson had been on a search for the car and would actually find it in the basement of a Packard distributor in Minneapolis. Totally intending to tow the car to its new home, the engine would burst to life after just a little bit of tinkering. The surprised part would then scrap the idea of towing the car and would elect to make the journey riding in the Bentley instead.

The decision would soon be made to restore the car and this would be no easy feat. Part of the decision to restore the car included removing the Vanden Plas fabric body and replacing it with a metal one instead. But this would barely decrease the car's importance and value as it has retained the same metal bodywork from that restoration effort.

Completed, the Bentley would not remain with Johnson all that long, but it would remain in Canada. Found by the noted automobile historian D. Cameron Peck, the Bentley would join a collection that would already boast of some truly remarkable period automobiles. Then, in 1952, Peck's health would take an ill-turn and he would be led to dispose of a large part of his fabulous collection. MS 3944 would be one of those to be sold and would find its way into a feature in Road & Track as a result of being purchased by Sidney Brody. Sold once again, this time to the vintage Bugatti collector William Klein, the Bentley would find itself at a dealership on East 64th Street in New York.

Charles Noble had come to the United States from England and had a deep passion for Bentleys. Following the Second World War, Noble would work alongside Luigi Chinetti in New York City. He would also know William Klein. Therefore, it seemed a certainty the Bentley would end up with Noble. Purchasing the Bentley in 1957, Noble would prove his devotion to the marque by owning the car for more than 55 years.

Noble would use the car and would compete with it on a regular basis, especially at the Bridgehampton Race Circuit. Though the blown 4 ½-liter Bentley would never win an event during its active years, Noble and the Bentley would win more than their fair share of events throughout the late 1950s and 1960s. Then, something around 1970, the car would be stored away.

In 2003 the blown 4 ½ liter Bentley would receive an invitation to take part in the Greenwich Concours d'Elegance. The Bentley would emerge from its quiet hiding and would provide many with a glimpse at a very rare blown Bentley. Then, just when it seemed its competitive days were long behind it, MS 3944 would take part in the 2011 'Ascent' Hill Climb. This is an event that is run along with the Elegance at Hershey. And, despite its age, the Bentley would show well, proving yet again W.O.'s commitment to reliability.

Untouched since its restoration under Mr. Johnson back in 1938 and 1939, this rare, unusual blown 4 ½-liter Bentley has many more interesting features that set it apart and cause even the experts to ponder just what Bentley had produced for Mr. Leeson more than 80 years ago. Offered at the 2013 Bonhams Quail Lodge auction, the 1931 Bentley 4 ½ Liter Supercharged Le Mans would draw estimates ranging from between $4,000,000 and $5,000,000. At the conclusion of the bidding, the car had been sold for the sum of $4,647,500 including buyer's premium.

Sources:
'Lot No. 152: 1931 Bentley 4 ½ Liter Supercharged Le Mans', (http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20994/lot/152/?page_anchor=m1%3D1%26k1%3D152%26b1%3Dlist). Bonhams. http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20994/lot/152/?page_anchor=m1%3D1%26k1%3D152%26b1%3Dlist. Retrieved 12 August 2013.

By Jeremy McMullen


2013 Bonhams - Quail Lodge Auction

Sale Price :
$4,647,500

2018 1
2015 1
2013 1
2008 1
2007 1
2003 1

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter Auction Sales

Recent Sales

(Data based on Model Year 1931 sales)
1931 Bentley 4½-Litre Supercharged Tourer
Chassis#: SM 3925
Sold for $2,666,358
  2018 Bonhams : Goodwood
 
1931 Bentley 4½-Litre Supercharged Two-Seater Sports in the style of Vanden Plas
Chassis#: MS3929
Sold for $4,015,000
  2015 RM Sotheby's : Monterey
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter image  1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter image  
1931 Bentley 4½ Liter Supercharged Le Mans
Chassis#: MS 3944
Sold for $4,647,500
  2013 Bonhams - Quail Lodge Auction
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter image  1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter image  
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter Blower
Chassis#: MS 3928
Sold for $1,760,000
  2008 Gooding & Company
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter image  1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter image  
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter Blower
Sold for $4,510,000
  2007 Gooding & Company
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter image  1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter image  
1931 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre Le Mans Replica
Chassis#: XT3636
Sold for $159,683
  2003 Bonhams - Goodwood Revival
 

Vehicles That Failed To Sell

1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter's that have appeared at auction but did not sell.
VehicleChassisEventHigh BidEst. LowEst. High
1931 Bentley 4½ Liter Supercharged Birkin Le Mans ReplicaMS 39422019 Bonhams : Quail Lodge Auction $2,750,000$3,750,000
1931 Bentley 4.5 Litre Blower - SM3925SM39252014 Silverstone : Salon Prive   
1931 BENTLEY 4½-LITRE SUPERCHARGED TOURERXT36352014 The Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale $750,000$850,000
1931 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre SC Blower Sports 2/3 Seater BoattailSM39162012 Gooding and Company Pebble Beach Auction $8,000,000$10,000,000
1931 Bentley 4½ Liter ‘Birkin Style Tourer with original Supercharger 2009 Bonhams Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club $900,000$1,000,000

Comparables

Similar sales to the $2,959,757 range.
2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
Chassis#:ZFF76ZFA6E0205297
Sold for $2,947,500
2019 RM Sothebys : Monterey
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  
1995 Ferrari F50
Chassis#:ZFFTG46AXS0103351
Sold for $3,000,000
2019 RM Sothebys : Monterey
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  
1967 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra Roadster
Sold for $2,860,000
2019 Mecum : Indianpolis
2015 Ferrari LaFerrari
Chassis#:ZFF76ZFA4F0209754
Sold for $3,080,000
2019 RM Sothebys : Fort Lauderdale
1958 BMW 507 3.2-Litre Series II Roadster
Chassis#:70100
Sold for $3,008,717
2018 Bonhams : The Bond Street Sale
1966 Ferrari Dino Berlinetta GT
Chassis#:00106
Sold for $3,080,000
2018 Gooding & Company : Pebble Beach
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  
2014 Ferrari LaFerrari
Chassis#:ZFF76ZFAXE0207442
Sold for $3,080,000
2018 Gooding & Company : Pebble Beach
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  
2003 Ferrari Enzo
Chassis#:ZFFCW56A630131240
Sold for $2,860,000
2018 Mecum : Monterey
1954 Maserati A6 GCS/53 Spyder by Fiandri & Malagoli
Chassis#:2087
Sold for $2,995,860
2018 Artcurial : Retromobile
1966 Shelby 427 Cobra 'Semi-Competition'
Chassis#:CSX 3040
Sold for $2,947,500
2018 RM Sothebys : Scottsdale, Az.
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  
1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spider by Scaglietti
Chassis#:16783
Sold for $2,983,635
2017 RM Sothebys : Ferrari - Leggenda e Passione
1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 by Scaglietti
Chassis#:10147
Sold for $3,025,000
2017 RM Sothebys : Monterey
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  
1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Alloy Long-Nose Design by Pininfarina
Chassis#:07927
Sold for $3,080,000
2017 Bonhams : Quail Lodge
1965 Ferrari 500 Superfast
Chassis#:5989 SF
Sold for $2,915,000
2017 Gooding & Co. : Scottsdale, AZ
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  
1961 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Coupe Aerodinamico by Pininfarina
Chassis#:2841 SA
Sold for $3,080,000
2017 RM Sotheby's : Arizona Auction
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  
2003 Ferrari Enzo
Chassis#:ZFFCW56A330128800
Sold for $3,000,000
2016 Mecum : Monterey
1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 Spider
Chassis#:LML/505
Sold for $3,080,000
2016 Gooding & Company : Pebble Beach
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  
1966 Ford GT40 'P/1057'
Chassis#:P/1057
Sold for $2,900,000
2016 RM Sotheby's : Monterey
1959 Porsche 718 RSK
Chassis#:718-019
Sold for $2,860,000
2016 Gooding & Company : The Amelia Island Auction
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  
1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder
Chassis#:917/30-004
Sold for $3,000,000
2016 Gooding & Company : The Amelia Island Auction
1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  1931 Bentley 4.5-Liter vehicle thumbnail image  

Vehicle Profiles

Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Liter1926 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: 911
Engine Num: 919
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Liter1926 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: FS3619
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1927 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1927 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: DS 3573
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1927 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: DS 3574
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1927 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: RN3031
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1927 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: ST3015
Engine Num: ST3015
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1927 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: YU7692
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1928 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1928 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1928 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1928 Drophead Coupe
Coachbuilder: Victor Broom
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1928 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: HF3177
Engine Num: HF3178 / SL 3054
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1928 LeMans Sport Bobtail
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: KM3088
Engine Num: MF3175
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1928 Semi-Le Mans Sports Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: MF3153
Engine Num: SM3905
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1928 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: PM3252
Engine Num: PM3256
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1928 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Harrison
Chassis Num: PM3259
Engine Num: PM3258
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1928 Tourer
Chassis Num: SL3075
Engine Num: SL3071
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1928 Flexible Coupe
Coachbuilder: Harrison
Chassis Num: XR3347
Engine Num: XR3347
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1928 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: YV7263
Engine Num: KM3096
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Sport Touring
Coachbuilder: Harrison
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Salmon & Sons Coupe
Coachbuilder: Salmon & Sons
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Two-Seat Sports
Coachbuilder: Harrison
Chassis Num: DS3568
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: DS3575
Engine Num: DS3572
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: FB3317
Engine Num: FB3320
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Offset Single Seater
Chassis Num: HB3402
Engine Num: SM3901
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: HB3403
Engine Num: SM3902
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: HB3404/R
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Robinson Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: HB3410
Engine Num: HB3412
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: HR3976
Engine Num: HR3976
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: KL3584
Engine Num: KL3584
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Thrupp and Maberly
Chassis Num: MR3990
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: NX3451
Engine Num: NX3455 - XF3507
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: NX3452
Engine Num: NX3454
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Open Sports Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: NX3463
Engine Num: NX3469
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Chassis Num: NX3466
Engine Num: AD3655
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Chassis Num: PL3497
Engine Num: FT3223
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Chassis Num: RC2209
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: RL3427
Engine Num: RL3429
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: RL3448
Engine Num: MR3377
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Chassis Num: SM 3903
Engine Num: SM 3907
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: SM3917
Engine Num: MS3933
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Chassis Num: TX3246
Engine Num: PM3275
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5 Litre1929 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: XR3332
Engine Num: XR3337
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5-liter1930 Drophead Coupe
Coachbuilder: Gurney Nutting
Chassis Num: GK 6661
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5-liter1930 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: PB3549
Engine Num: PB3539
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5-liter1930 Saloon
Coachbuilder: Maythorne & Sons
Chassis Num: XF3520
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Sports Tourer
Coachbuilder: Thrupp and Maberly
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Sports Tourer
Coachbuilder: Thrupp and Maberly
Chassis Num: MR 3390
Engine Num: MR 3393
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Sports Tourer
Coachbuilder: Thrupp and Maberly
Chassis Num: MS 3928
Engine Num: SM 3921
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Supercharged Birkin Le Mans Replica
Chassis Num: MS 3942
Engine Num: MS 3950
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Le Mans Boattail
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: MS 3944
Engine Num: MS 3941
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Two-Seater Sports
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: MS3929
Engine Num: MS3932
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Four Seater Sports
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: MS3932
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Boattail by Gurney Nutting
Coachbuilder: Gurney Nutting
Chassis Num: SM3916
Engine Num: SM 3922
Chassis information for the Bentley 4.5-Liter1931 Tourer
Coachbuilder: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: SM3917
Engine Num: MS3933


Vehicle information, history, and specifications from concept to production.

Follow ConceptCarz on Facebook Follow ConceptCarz on Twitter RSS News Feed

Conceptcarz.com
© 1998-2020 Conceptcarz.com Reproduction or reuse prohibited without written consent.