Format: 2019-07-20 13:33:00

Bentley 8 Litre coupé Sportsman Gurney-Nutting 1931 YR5088-Rtromobile 2014 & Solo Alfa by Artcurial Motorcars 3902

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Rtromobile 2014 & Solo Alfa by Artcurial Motorcars
Auction House: Artcurial
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Sold for: € 2.190.400

With victories to its name in the Le Mans 24 Hours, Bentley had definitely proved itself in competition. To knock Rolls-Royce off the top spot for British luxury automobiles however, it was necessary to go one step further. And so, at the 1930 London Motor Show, the marque presented the 8-Litre. Employing the engineering of the imposing 6.5-litre, this car called for all the superlatives. The in-line six-cylinder engine had a single overhead camshaft and four valves per cylinder and with 7,983cc, it produced 220 bhp at 3,500 rpm. In other words, it was exceptionally versatile and was reported as such in period road tests, such as The Autocar of 1930 : " While offering the performance of a sports car (....), this car can be driven in top gear, as slowly as a man walks, and can accelerate without snatch and without difficulty. " Right through to a top speed of 160 km/h ! This was a higher number than Rolls-Royces were capable of, even though the 8-litre chassis was longer than the longest comparable Rolls-Royce. However, despite these indisputable qualities, and along with many of its rivals, the Bentley 8-Litre suffered from the Great Depression that followed the 1929 Crash and just 100 examples were built, making it a particularly rare model. Naturally, a technical masterpiece such as this attracted the most reputable coachbuilders, who exercised all their talent on creating bodies for the car. It was Gurney-Nutting, one of Bentley's most trusted coachbuilders along with Vanden Plas, who was responsible for the Sportsman coupé, a marvel of design with perfect balance for a chassis of this size. Its beauty was recognised immediately, and the car won the 1932 " Best Coachwork " Trophy at the RAC Rally.

At this time, our 8-Litre was in the hands of its first owner, an extraordinary character, by the name of Captain John Moller. Moller was a pilot and a photo taken at the 1932 RAC Rally, shows the car displaying the mascot of a Gipsy Moth that was associated with him. In a letter from 1999, Lord Monro of Langholm recalls having been present when the new car was delivered, and notes that his sister appears in one of the black and white photos that come with the car. He also indicated that it was in this 8-Litre car that he first drove at 180 km/h, and that when John Moller parted with his car, he sold it to Sir Edmund Findlay, a newspaper proprietor from Scotland. The maintenance documents show that in 1938 the car was regularly driven and maintained. In 1955 it was registered in the name of D.A. Dale and a document from 1964 shows that it had been taken off the road for some time while retaining its original registration, SM 8794. The subsequent owner was Mr John A MacQueen of Deansfield House, Stafford, and it was him who sold the car to Charles Teall during the 1970s. This splendid Gurney-Nutting coupé still had all its original components and Teall decided to restore it completely, with breathtaking results. The provenance, quality and condition of this Bentley 8-Litre won it numerous awards : " Best of Show " at the Louis Vuitton Classic at the Hurlingham Club in 1999 and second in class at the 2001 Pebble Beach Concours d'Élégance. It is perhaps more important to note the prizes awarded by Bentley Driver's Club, whose judges share an unrivalled knowledge of this type of car : in 1937 " Best Vintage Saloon ", then " Best 8-Litre " and more recently, the meeting's " Best Vintage Bentley ". These trophies and awards highlight the recognition given to this important automobile, which is not surprising: the Gurney-Nutting coachwork has a rare beauty and succeeds in giving this substantial chassis a light, sporting appearance. The relatively short wings, the streamlined running boards that double up as storage space, the covered wheel hubcaps, the narrow and discreet bumpers and the roomy trunk shaped to fit in with the rear styling all come together to give a dynamic and balanced whole. At the front, the high chrome radiator grille, surmounted by a mascot of a winged female torso, and framed by three headlamps, is a perfect representation of this type of model.

Superlatives abound for the interior as well, with the doors opening up to a passenger compartment with blue leather seats and door-linings that display a light and flawless patina. The whole interior is inviting and comfortable. The driver's seat has a carefully designed cut away section to allow easy use of the gear and brake levers, and the blue carpet is immaculate. Wood lines the dashboard, door panels and courtesy equipment for the rear passengers, and the roof opens up over the front seats, transforming the drive into a sunny and airy experience. The dashboard displays a selection of superbly presented instruments and the centre of the steering wheel sports the traditional controls for advance, choke and hand throttle.
A glance under the bonnet reveals what this 8-litre Bentley is capable of : its enormous engine fills the available space, in a stunning blend of simplicity and sophistication. The car as a whole is impeccable and if it shows some general signs of wear, this represents normal use and meticulous maintenance.

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