'Recipe: take a good 3-litre Bentley chassis, mix in a good 4.5-litre engine, gearbox and transmission and add a light body with accessories to taste. The result is a motor car which, while still retaining a good vintage flavour, possesses a performance equaled by few other machines even of the most modern and expensive type' (Captain J.G. Fry, The Autocar May 14th 1943).
A late Bentley 3 Litre, chassis HT1649 was initially fitted with Vanden Plas saloon coachwork and supplied new to J. Henderson Esq. Road registered as `WW 6726' by West Yorkshire County Council on 15th June 1928, an accompanying continuation buff logbook shows that it survived World War Two and was resident in Essex some twenty-six years later. Belonging to Ronald Frederick Fotheringham at the time, the Bentley is known to have passed several hands before entering the previous ownership in 1999.
Converted into a Tourer during 1963 and reconfigured to 3/4.5 Litre specification using its original `matching numbers' engine crankcase during the 1990s, `WW 6726' was nonetheless treated to an extensive `chassis up' restoration by Phil Evans, a long term Bentley Drivers' Club member, he sought to create a car that was - in his own terms - as usable and enjoyable as possible. Resembling one of the nine short wheelbase (9ft 9.5in) cars that W.O. Bentley created before adopting the longer wheelbase (10ft 10in) for series 4.5 Litre production, chassis HT1649 also sports a 4.5 Litre-type radiator for improved cooling and 4.5 Litre steering box for easier manoeuvring.
`WW 6726' has been developed with performance and reliability in mind. As such, it sports a full-flow oil filter, coil ignition, overdrive, electric fuel pumps and more modern SU HD8 carburettors. Though, the Autovac has been left in situ on the bulkhead should one wish to reinstate it. Pleasingly retaining its original crankcase and magneto tower stampings, the uprated 4.5 Litre engine has not long been treated to a new block. The four-speed `C-type' manual gearbox is allied to a modern clutch, while the four-wheel drum brakes have been converted to hydraulic operation. Finished in Black with Dark Green leather upholstery, the four-seater rides on 20-inch wire wheels and utilises a 3.53:1 rear axle ratio.
The chassis number HT1649 is visible inside the nearside front dumb iron and on the front engine cross member. With its quick-release radiator filler cap, Le Mans-style fuel tank, fold flat windscreen (complete with aero screens), nearside-mounted spare wheel and cycle wings. It not only looks the part, but it is one the most pleasurable driving experiences you can have in a vintage Bentley. Effortless power, smooth gearbox, useful overdrive and brakes that really work!