1930 Bentley Speed Six

The original W.O. Bentley automobiles began with the 3-Liter of 1919. Sales success was spurred by the sporting reputation earned on the track, which led to commissions for large and more luxurious coachwork on the chassis. The heavy coachwork and short chassis of the 3-Litre cars prompted a need for more power and a longer chassis. W.O. addressed the performance issue by essentially taking the three-liter four and adding two additional cylinders, displacing 4.25-liters. One of the design changes included the replacement of the vertical shaft camshaft drive with a new system where a crank driven bevel gear turned a small triple-throw crankshaft, which operated a similar crankshaft on the cam, connected by a set of three connecting rods. This design would continue through the later eight liter cars.

A prototype car with a Weymann saloon body was tested by W.O Bentley on a country road when he encountered a Rolls-Royce. Both cars were being driven at speed, which led to an impromptu race. W.O. soon recognized the driver of the car as being a Rolls-Royce engineer. In the end, neither was able to gain a clear advantage. This convinced Bentley that more performance was required. This was accomplished by increasing the engine's displacement from 4 1/4 liters to 6 1/2. The new car, introduced in 1925, provided the necessary performance that the luxury car segment demanded.

The 6.5-Litre Bentley was produced from 1926 through 1930 with 544 examples produced. 182 of these would be built to Speed Six specification.

The 6.5-Litre was not solely reserved for luxury transportation, as competition versions soon followed. The Speed Six was introduced in 1928 and would become the most successful racing Bentley. Captain Woolf Barnato took delivery of the first example in May of 1929. They were similar to the standard models, but with several important performance-oriented upgrades, including a pair of S.U. carburetors on a new square section intake manifold. Horsepower rose to 180, and would later reach 200 hp in LeMans spec racers.

The Speed Six made its race debut at the 1929 Double Twelve at Brooklands, where the Works car lead the race with an average speed of 92 mph before it was forced to retire with a sheared dynamo drive.

At the 1929 24 Hours of LeMans, three 4.5-liter cars were joined by the new Speed Six being driven by Barnato and Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin. One of the 4.5-liter cars was forced to retire early. The other four Bentleys lead most of the race, with the Birkin/Barnato Speed Six in the lead. By the closing hours of the race, the Speed Six was so far ahead of the rest of the competition, they were instructed by the team to reduce to touring speed to save the cars.

In the end, the Speed Six had an average speed of over 70 mph, and the average would have been higher had W.O. not ordered the cars to reduce the speed after the retirement of the two supercharged Stutz, the Bentley's only real competition.

At the 1930 24 Hours of LeMans, three examples were entered. Barnato and Kidston drove car #4, Clement and Watney drove car #2, and Davis and Dunfee piloted #3. Dunfee crashed #3 fairly early in the race. The two remaining Speed Sixes were left to contest the competitive supercharged Mercedes-Benz driven by Caracciola. Although Caracciola lead for a time, the speed of the Bentleys forced Caracciola to use his supercharger extensively, eventually forcing his retirement on the 83rd lap. With the competition out of the race, the Bentleys were once again ordered to slow to touring speed. When the checkered flag fell, Barnato and Kidston were in first place, followed by Clement and Watney in second. For the fourth year in a row, Bentley had won at LeMans.

Between 1929 and 1931 the Speed Six achieved 5 first places and four second-place finishes in major races.


by Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2019

Related Reading : Bentley Speed Six History

The Bentley 6.5 Litre was a continuation of the Litre series Walter Owen Bentley had created. The four-cylinder 4.5-liter unit used in the 4½ Litre was used for the 6½ Litre Bentley but the 6½ Litre Bentley had two extra cylinders. The Bentley staright-6 had a cast-iron block and head with an overhead camshaft having four-valves per cylinder. There were two spark-plugs per cylinder. The 100 mm bore....
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Related Reading : Bentley Speed Six History

The Bentley Company was created by Walter Owen and Henry Bentley in 1919. Within a few years, they had their first 24 Hours of LeMans victory. The company prospered for a number of years before going into receivership in 1931. The company had created a total of 3033 cars and had won victories at LeMans five times. The litre series engines began in 1919 with the four-cylinder 3-litre unit. For....
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1930 Vehicle Profiles

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Sportsman Coupe
Coachwork: Gurney Nutting

Chassis Num: GC 3661

With the introduction of the Speed Six, the company went one stage further in providing customers with a serious contender for motor sports events. The main difference to the standard model was the fitting of twin carburettors. Usually the Bentley Sp....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Tourer
Coachwork: Hooper

This is a 1930 Bentley Speed 6 Tourer with coachwork by the British based coachbuilding firm, Hooper. It was on display at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Old Number 2 Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas

Chassis Num: HM2868
Engine Num: HM2872

Widely regarded as the most important surviving works Bentley, this Brooklands Double-Twelve winner and LeMans team car from 1930 is also one of the most original vintage Bentleys in the world. This car with chassis number HM2868, was specifically bu....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Drophead Coupe
Coachwork: Mulliner

Chassis Num: LR2776

H.J. Mulliner was responsible for this beautifully proportioned 2-door, 2-light drophead coupe and it is one of the very few Speed Sixes with its original bodywork. The Speed Six was a particular favorite of W.O. Bentley. It was also one of the most ....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Sportsman Coupe
Coachwork: Gurney Nutting

Chassis Num: HM2855
Engine Num: HM2863

The first owner of this car was Bentley Chairman Woolf Barnato, and it is one of the most famous and unique vintage Bentleys in the world. For many years it was though to be the Blue Train Bentley that was used in a race between Barnato and the Frenc....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas

Chassis Num: HM2869

Two Speed-Six Bentleys were entered for the Brooklands Double Twelve race in May 1930. Racing for 12 hours over each of the two days the cars finished in fine style, with Old Number 2, driven by Barnato and Clements in first place and this car, Old N....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Saloon
Coachwork: Mulliner

Chassis Num: LR2778
Engine Num: NH2748S

Originally built for Bentley stock, this Speed Six is fitted with a striking Sportsman Saloon body by Mulliner. Through Jack Barclay and Duff Morgan Ltd., it was sold to the Maharajah of Jaipur (Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II) in October of 1930. The Ma....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Blue Train Tourer

Chassis Num: B68HR
Engine Num: B34H-1396

On March 12th of 1930, a wager was made amongst a group of early motoring enthusiasts at a dinner party at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes, France. The discussion was prompted by the Rover motor car's advertisement, claiming that its Light Six was faster....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas

Chassis Num: NH2730

A total of 544 of the 6.5-Litre Bentleys were produced from 1926-1930, including 157 Speed Six models starting in 1928. This was the winningest Bentley of all time, including victories at Le Mans in 1929 and 1930. Bentley boy Woolf Barnato owned Spee....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Blue Train Tourer

Chassis Num: 32TC
Engine Num: A7280
Vin Num: Serial no. B001BTS

Woolf Barnato took delivery of the original 'Blue Train' 6½-Litre Speed Six. The legend of the Blue Train was derived from the French express train, which Barnato had succeeded in beating from Cannes to London in an earlier Speed Six. ....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Open Four Seater Sports
Coachwork: Vanden Plas

Chassis Num: SB2756

The Bentley Speed Six chassis was introduced in 1928 as a more powerful and sporting version of the 6.5-Liter known as the Big Six. Bentley built this car for Sir Egbert Cadbury, a member of the Cadbury chocolate family who had served as a pilot in W....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Sports Saloon
Coachwork: Gurney Nutting

Chassis Num: NH2741

The Speed Six Bentley was introduced at the 1928 Olympia Motor Show in London as a more sporting version of the marque's earlier standard 6.5-Litre chassis. The new model caught the public's eye and imagination after scoring triumphs at Brooklands an....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Sportsmans Saloon
Coachwork: Corsica

Chassis Num: HM2861
Engine Num: LR2782

The Speed Six was the racing derivative of the massive and potent 6½-Litre. In regards to its mechanical specifications, the Speed Six was very similar to and derivative of the 6½-Litre. Performance features included twin SU carburetors on a new squa....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Open Roadster
Coachwork: Vanden Plas

Chassis Num: HM2856
Engine Num: HM2868

Of the 182 Bentley Speed Sixes built, this car is one of just four Speed Sixes built on the short 11-foot chassis, with the other three being the factory's own Le Mans team cars. So it is possible that this car was used or intended as a spare for W.O....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Sports Tourer
Coachwork: Gurney Nutting

Chassis Num: NH2740
Engine Num: KR2693

This Bentley Speed Six Tourer wears an open sport-tourer body created by J. Gurney Nutting, Ltd.....[continue reading]

1930 Bentley Speed Six vehicle information

Le Mans Replica Tourer

Chassis Num: SB 2754
Engine Num: SB 2763

This Bentley Speed Six was completed on September of 1929 and was one of the 121 6.5-liter Bentleys resting on the short 138-inch wheelbase. As it is a later model it was equipped with the single port block which brought horsepower from 160 to 180 bh....[continue reading]

Sportsman Coupe by Gurney Nutting
Chassis #: GC 3661 
Tourer by Hooper
 
Old Number 2 Tourer by Vanden Plas
Chassis #: HM2868 
Drophead Coupe by Mulliner
Chassis #: LR2776 
Sportsman Coupe by Gurney Nutting
Chassis #: HM2855 
Tourer by Vanden Plas
Chassis #: HM2869 
Saloon by Mulliner
Chassis #: LR2778 
Blue Train Tourer
Chassis #: B68HR 
Tourer by Vanden Plas
Chassis #: NH2730 
Blue Train Tourer
Chassis #: 32TC 
Open Four Seater Sports by Vanden Plas
Chassis #: SB2756 
Sports Saloon by Gurney Nutting
Chassis #: NH2741 
Sportsmans Saloon by Corsica
Chassis #: HM2861 
Open Roadster by Vanden Plas
Chassis #: HM2856 
Sports Tourer by Gurney Nutting
Chassis #: NH2740 
Le Mans Replica Tourer
Chassis #: SB 2754 


Concepts by Bentley



Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

$0-$10,952
1930 Speed Six
$10,952-$19,000
1930 Bentley Speed Six Base Price : $10,952

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Bentley
1935Ford (820,253)Chevrolet (548,215)Plymouth (350,884)
1934Ford (563,921)Chevrolet (551,191)Plymouth (321,171)
1933Chevrolet (486,261)Ford (334,969)Plymouth (298,557)
1932Chevrolet (313,404)Ford (210,824)Plymouth (186,106)
1931Chevrolet (619,554)Ford (615,455)Buick (138,965)
1930Ford (1,140,710)Chevrolet (640,980)Buick (181,743)
1929Ford (1,507,132)Chevrolet (1,328,605)Buick (196,104)
1928Chevrolet (1,193,212)Ford (607,592)Willys Knight (231,360)
1927Chevrolet (1,001,820)Ford (367,213)Buick (255,160)
1926Ford (1,669,847)Chevrolet (547,724)Buick (266,753)
1925Ford (1,669,847)Chevrolet (306,479)Dodge (201,000)

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