The short-chassis 4½ Litre is widely regarded as the best-handling vintage Bentley, offering the perfect mix of a high power-to-weight ratio and sporty, compact appearance. Immortalised by brand-defining accomplishments at Le Mans and brilliantly promoted by the Bentley Boys, the car is now viewed by many as the height of pre-war British motoring.
Conceived as a replacement for the aging 3 Litre, production began in 1927 with the mantra ‘there’s no replacement for displacement’. The larger straight-four engine epitomised Bentley’s sporting image and proved to be both reliable and fast.
A win for Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin at Le Mans in 1928 helped to popularise sports-touring-bodied Bentleys, a number of which have since been converted to replicate those driven at the famous French race. As such an all-original Bentley is rare, placing ST3010 among a small number of pre-war examples to have retained its original chassis, engine and body.
Only the 10th of its kind built, ST3010 was finished in 1928 with a four-door tourer body by Harrison. Coloured in a classic black over red livery and with stunning proportions, it is an exceptional example of Cricklewood’s most famous export. Such was its popularity that more than 700 had been made when production ceased following Bentley’s independence in 1931.
Seldom can it be said that a vintage Bentley of early production has retained such originality. Not only is ST3010 among the oldest surviving 4½ Litres, it is perhaps the most original.