1927 Bentley 3/8 Litre Speed Special

  • 1927 Bentley Special 3/8 Litre
  • Bentley 3-litre Speed Model Chassis
  • Original 1927 registration
  • Stunning and comfortable design


A Bentley won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1924, 1927, ’28, ’29 and ’30, not to mention 2003. From their earliest days as a manufacturer in the heady “Bentley Boys” era of the 1920’s, their loyal followers have been preoccupied with going fast and within a few years of their manufacture many formal bodied cars had been re-fashioned into Bentley Specials sporting open bodied replicas of their Le Mans-winning siblings and other custom bodied designs. A few years after the three-litre was launched 4-1/2 or 6-1/2 litre Bentley engines were already being installed in their rugged and reliable chassis. The current demand for matching numbers does not apply to Bentley Specials. They have often been built from damaged cars and discarded components since the cars were new and their original components are as highly-prized if not more so than they have ever been.


This extraordinary ‘Bentley Special’ was created in its current form by one of the country’s leading and most experienced vintage Bentley restorers (Neil Davies Racing of Watford) in the mid 1990’s for a leading Historic racing driver Peter Gooch. He wanted a car that he could drive to Continental race meetings where he would race his Maserati 250F, the Bentley or a Cooper F1 racing car then drive the Bentley home afterwards in true “Bentley Boy” fashion. The project started with the purchase of a basket-case 3-litre. Missing its engine and body, it comprised a chassis with springs, gearbox, bulkhead and a few other bits. The chassis is the standard speed model wheelbase with no additional stiffening to retain the original nimble handling characteristics. The crossmembers were modified and moved backwards and therefore the bonnet line was lowered by using flattened front springs and outrigged rear spring-mountings with doubled dampers all round. The massive 8-litre Bentley engine is mounted three inches lower in the chassis and the radiator four inches lower.

The front and rear axles are standard three-litre components and a 3:1 differential ratio from a Speed Six gives a theoretical 150mph maximum but is equally capable of relaxed high-speed cruising. The brakes were converted to a hydraulic system with new backplates, cast iron drums, shoes and cylinders mated to thick Mintex brake linings to cope with hauling the beast up without fear of brake fading. The crankshaft is counterbalanced and was converted to shell bearings with new lighter, stronger rods and pistons and the clutch is a modern diaphragm-spring system. All of which have been recently replaced during a precautionary engine re-build.

During the original build by NDR back in the 1990s, the camshaft was converted to chain drive but in time this was found to be unreliable and required constant adjustment so in the recent engine re-build it was converted back to the original layout of a Three Throw rod drive system. Twin Scintilla magneto’s are fitted as standard and a new inlet manifold was manufactured to carry the three 2 inch SU carburettors. The mahogany instrument panel carries a mixture of original Bentley and other period instruments and has the functional yet rugged pre-war feel of a fighter command panel with toggle switches and gauges that provide instant feedback to the eye.

Tim Hastings from H&H Coachworks of Henley in Oxfordshire built the attractive ultra-low-rear two seater sporting body. The Bentley’s tanks-radiator, oil and huge 30-gallon petrol tank- have quick release filler caps that open with one stroke of a lever, this saved time during pit stops. The lovely nickel-plated windscreen is a copy of an original Speed Six Vanden Plas screen. The aeroscreens unclip and become effective wind deflectors on the sides of the proper screen when it is raised.

This one-of-a-kind, open two seater Bentley Special is finished in classic British Racing Green (BRG) with a comfortable two-bucket leather seat interior finished in ox-blood red. Presented in excellent condition throughout and still wearing its distinctive and original “Red Label” badge on its German silver radiator shell. Equally at home in vintage racing the concours field or the German autobahn there are few Pre-War cars in the world that give the senses such a feeling of exhilaration. The acceleration is staggering and the unmistakable Bentley sound turns heads in the same way that a Spitfire stills a crowd.

The opportunities to create such cars are becoming fewer and further between as the original components are now always used and cars are restored, meaning the opportunity to acquire such a well-designed and thought out Bentley Special along the lines of this car are slim indeed. The factory records show the original nimble 3-litre chassis HT 1634 was a very desirable Speed or ‘Red Label’ model and was first assigned British registration plate number YT 155 in September of 1927, which this car still retains.

Ideal for the multitude of international classic car rallies held throughout the world, the 8-litre engine devours the miles like no other Bentley and mated to the 3-litre chassis is light and nimble through the curves. This Bentley Special for sale at The Classic Motor Hub is an exciting car that will compete with the very best at a fraction of the price.

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