RM Sotheby’s Offers 1928 Bentley 4½-Liter At Amelia Island Auction, Estimate $6.5 to $7.5 Million – Forbes

Posted: Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Darin Schnabel ©2017 Courtesy of RM Sothebys

Darin Schnabel ©2017 Courtesy of RM Sothebys

If you want to play Bentley Boy in vintage rallies, only a handful of the original racing cars are more desirable than this 4½ liter “Bobtail,” chassis no. KM3088. Though the car suffered a retirement at the 1928 Le Mans 24 Hours, in June of 1929 it came home third in the French classic. A month before that Le Mans success it took second place honors in the Brooklands Double Twelve, clocking an average 81.39 mph. It then served as a team practice car into 1930. The car has had precious few owners in nearly nine decades of existence, and its health and condition have been carefully attended, with a restoration in 1964 followed by a “preservative” restoration in 2009.

Darin Schnabel ©2017 Courtesy of RM Sothebys

Darin Schnabel ©2017 Courtesy of RM Sothebys

Originally purchased by Sir Roland Gunter to serve as a factory team race car, in 1930 KM3088 ownership passed to Lauchlan Rose, who reportedly drove the car to work on occasion. For after-lunch entertainment Rose supposedly lapped the Brooklands circuit. Rose sold off the car after a few years. By the time of World War Two, the much-loved car reportedly had almost 100,000 miles logged. Rose bought it back after the war, and passed it to his son. KM3088 remained with the Rose family through 1971. The Bobtail then formed part of Bill Lake’s pre-war sports car collection for 33 years, and only sold after he passed.

 Darin Schnabel ©2017 Courtesy of RM Sothebys

Darin Schnabel ©2017 Courtesy of RM Sothebys

In recent years, KM3088 has been the recipient of a professional “preservation” restoration by marque specialists, meaning they only performed the work needed without completely remanufacturing the car to perfection—it has patina, as a Bentley should. It sold at Pebble Beach in 2012 for $6,050,000. Estimate for Amelia island is $6.5-$7.5 million. Keep in mind the owners group is The Bentley Drivers Club. They’re meant to be driven, not secreted away.

 Darin Schnabel ©2017 Courtesy of RM Sothebys

Darin Schnabel ©2017 Courtesy of RM Sothebys

As I do with many of these cars coming up for auction, I contacted an old friend, in this case one who drove and reviewed the Birkin Bentley “monoposto” on the Isle of Man and later a Speed Six for me in the old days when we were roaming about sampling fine vintage cars and the best sports cars of the day. Last week he wrote the following in an email about driving a WO-era Bentley:

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