Bentley 3 litre


El 3 Litre (2996 cc) de cuatro cilindros en línea tenía un motor grande para su época, pero fueron sus innovaciones técnicas las que llamaron la atención de los aficionados al automovilismo. Fue uno de los primeros motores de producción en serie con cuatro válvulas por cilindro, impulsadas por un árbol de levas en cabeza. También fue uno de los primeros con dos bujías por cilindro y con dos carburadores. Para aumentar su durabilidad, el bloque del motor de hierro y la culata se fundían en una única pieza.

Su potencia de salida fue de aproximadamente 70 CV, permitiendo que los «3 Litros» alcanzaran los 129 km/h. La velocidad del Speed Model podía llegar a los 145 km/h, mientras que el Super Sports pasaba de los 161 km/h.

Portaba una caja de cambios de cuatro velocidades.

En los primeros coches solo se dispusieron frenos en las ruedas traseras, pero a partir de se montaron en las cuatro ruedas.​

Competition performance

Bentley racing car «Mother Gun», built 1927, 4.5 L engine.

Bentley 4½ Litre No. 10 took third at the 1929 24 Hours of Le Mans

Between 1927 and 1931 the Bentley 4½ Litre competed in several competitions, primarily the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first was the Old Mother Gun at the 1927 24 Hours of Le Mans, driven as a prototype before production. Favored to win, it instead crashed and did not finish. Its performance was sufficient for Bentley to decide to start production and deliver the first models the same year.

Far from being the most powerful in the competitions, the 4½ Litre of Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin, raced neck and neck against ‘s Stutz Blackhawk DV16, setting a new record average speed of 111.12 km/h (69 mph); Tim Birkin and Jean Chassagne finished fifth. The next year, three 4½ Litres finished second, third, and fourth behind another Bentley, the Speed Six, which possessed two more cylinders.

The naturally aspirated 4½ Litre was noted for its good reliability. The supercharged models were not; the two Blower models entered in the 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans by Dorothy Paget, one of which was co-driven by Tim Birkin, did not complete the race. In 1930, Birkin finished second in the French Grand Prix at the Circuit de Pau behind a Bugatti Type 35.Ettore Bugatti, annoyed by the performance of Bentley, called the 4½ Litre the «fastest lorry in the world.» The Type 35 is much lighter and consumes much less petrol. Blower Bentleys consume 4 liters per minute at full speed.

Despite the Blower’s record of poor reliability, Mildred Bruce, a British female racer, achieved a 24-hour distance record at Montlhéry in one, attaining an average speed of 89.4 mph (143.89 km/h). In 1930, the Daily Herald offered a trophy for the fastest driver at an event at Brooklands. The first year, Tim Birkin and Kaye Don competed and Kaye Don won with a speed of 137.58 mph (221.41 km/h). In 1932, Tim Birkin won driving his red Blower «Monoposto,» clocking 137.96 mph (222.03 km/h).

Bentley 4½ Litre at Le Mans
Year Competition Position Drivers Team Model
24 Hours of Le Mans
Woolf Barnato Bernard Rubin Bentley Motors Ltd. Bentley 4½ Litre
24 Hours of Le Mans
Jock Lawson Dunfee Glen Kidston Bentley Motors Ltd. Bentley 4½ Litre
Dr. Dudley Benjafield André d’Erlanger Bentley Motors Ltd. Bentley 4½ Litre
French Grand Prix
Sir Henry (Tim) Birkin Bentley Motors Ltd. Blower Bentley
500 miles of Brooklands
Dr. Dudley Benjafield Edward R. Hall Bentley Motors Ltd. Bentley 4½ Litre

External linksEdit

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Bentley 3-Litre

Preceded by 160 km/h Succeeded by
Bentley timeline, 1920s–present
type /class 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s
Bentley Motors Limited(1919–1931) Rolls-RoyceBentley Motors (1931) Limited(1931–1980) Vickers plcRolls-RoyceBentley Motors (1931) Limited(1980–1998) Volkswagen Group(1998–>)
coachbuilder’sopen2/4 seater 3 L
coachbuilder’slarge salooncoupé orconvertible R T
cars with Bentley own-factory coachwork
largesaloon R Brooklands Arnage Mulsanne
Turbo R
coupé Continental R/S/T
convertible Azure
Bentleys on the Volkswagen platform
coupé Continental GT
convertible C GTC
Bentley timeline, 1921–1931
type /class 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931
Sports car 3 L
Grand tourer
Luxury vehicle
  • A marque of the Volkswagen Group
This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Bentley 3 Litre. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia

4¼ Litre

Beginning in March, 1936, a 4¼ Litre version of the car was offered as replacement for the 3½ Litre, in order to offset the increasing weight of coachwork and maintain the car’s sporting image in the face of stiff competition. The engine was bored to 3½ in (88.9 mm) for a total of 4.3 L (4257 cc/259 in³). From 1938 the MR and MX series cars featured Marles steering and an overdrive gearbox. The model was replaced in 1939 by the MkV, but some cars were still finished and delivered during 1940–1941.

1234 4¼ Litre cars were built, with Park Ward remaining the most popular coachbuilder. Many cars were bodied in steel rather than the previous, more expensive, aluminium over ash frame construction.

A Drophead 4¼ Litre was featured as James Bond’s car in the 1983 movie Never Say Never Again.

4¼-litre fixed head coupé 1939by Pourtout of Paris for André Embiricos

Bentley Continental

Motorsport announced in March 1939 that the fixed head coupé designed by Paulin and built by Portout to the special order of André Embiricos is the prototype of a new Continental model in the Bentley range.

The new production car would have high compression pistons and larger SU carburettors giving an extra 15 bhp (11 kW; 15 PS) output and its weight reduced from the standard car’s by about 336 lb (152 kg) or 3 cwt. The maximum speed was expected to be 120 mph (193 km/h) and fuel consumption 26 mpg‑imp (11 L/100 km; 22 mpg‑US) at 60 mph (97 km/h).

«Bentley must be justifiably proud of doing with a straightforward, push-rod engine what other makers cannot approach with overhead camshafts and blowers.»


  • Bellu, Serge (1998). Histoire mondiale de l’automobile (in French). Flammarion. pp. 101–102. ISBN 978-2-08-013901-6.
  • Bouzanquet, Jean Francois (2009). Fast Ladies: Female Racing Drivers 1888 to 1970. Veloce Publishing. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-84584-225-3.
  • Cheetham, Craig (2006). Vintage Cars. Five-View Series. MotorBooks International. ISBN 978-0-7603-2572-8.
  • Gunnhor, Richard (2006). Supercars : les voitures les plus extraordinaires au monde (in French). Gremese Editore. p. 320. ISBN 978-88-7301-623-6.
  • Rogliatti, Gianni (1973). Posthumus, Cyril Posthumus (ed.). Period Cars. Feltham, Middlesex, UK: Hamlyn. p. 132. ISBN 0-600-33401-5.
  • Sparke, Penny (2003). Un siècle de design automobile (in French). Flammarion. ISBN 978-2-08-011083-1.
  • L’Atlas des bolides : 100 ans de voitures de course (in French). Atlas. 2003. p. 240. ISBN 978-2-7234-4315-9.


The 3.0 L (2,996 cubic centimetres (182.8 cu in)) straight-4 engine was large for its day, but it was its technical innovations that were most noticed. The engine was one of the first production car engines with 4 valves per cylinder and an overhead camshaft. The bevel-geared shaft drive for the camshaft was designed by ex-Royal Flying Corps engineer Clive Gallop. The engine was also among the first with two spark plugs per cylinder, pent-roof combustion chambers, and twin carburetters. It was extremely undersquare, optimized for low-end torque, with a bore of 80 mm (3.1 in) and a stroke of 149 mm (5.9 in). To increase durability, the iron engine block and cylinder head were cast as a single unit.

Power output was roughly 70 hp (52 kW), allowing the 3 Litre to reach 80 mph (129 km/h). The Speed Model could reach 90 mph (145 km/h); the Super Sports could exceed 100 mph (161 km/h).

A four-speed gearbox was fitted.

On the early cars the brakes operated on the rear wheels only but, from 1924, four wheel brakes were used.


Bentley 3-Litre Speed Model 4-Seater Tourer 1925

There were three main variants of the 3 litre and they became known by the colours commonly used on the radiator badge. There is, however, no definitive rule controlling badge colours and the factory would supply any colour requested.

Blue labelEdit

This was the standard model with 117.5 in (2,985 mm) wheelbase from 1921 to 1929 or long 130.0 in (3,302 mm) wheelbase from 1923 to 1929.

Red labelEdit

Bentley Red label — XW 8863 at Locomotion — The National Railway Museum at Shildon

This used a 5.3:1 high compression engine in the 117.5 in (2,985 mm) wheelbase chassis and was made from 1924 to 1929.

Green labelEdit

Made between 1924 and 1929 this was the high performance model with 6.3:1 compression ratio and short 108 in (2,743 mm) wheelbase chassis. 100 mph (160 km/h) performance was guaranteed.

3½ Litre

Based on an experimental Rolls-Royce project «Peregrine» which was to have had a supercharged 2¾ L engine, the 3½ Litre was finally fitted with a less adventurous engine developed from Rolls’ straight-6 fitted to the Rolls-Royce 20/25. The Bentley variant featured a higher compression ratio, sportier camshaft profile and two SU carburettors on a crossflow cylinder head. Actual power output was roughly 110 bhp (82 kW) at 4500 rpm, allowing the car to reach 90 mph (145 km/h). The engine displaced 3.7 L (3669 cc/223 in³) with a 3¼ in (82.5 mm) bore and 4½ in (114.3 mm) stroke.

A 4-speed manual transmission with synchromesh on 3rd and 4th, 4-wheel leaf spring suspension, and 4-wheel servo-assisted mechanical brakes were all common with other Rolls-Royce models. The chassis was manufactured from nickel steel, and featured a «double-dropped» layout to gain vertical space for the axles and thus keep the profiles of the cars low. The strong chassis needed no diagonal cross-bracing, and was very light in comparison to the chassis built by its contemporary competitors, weighing in at 2,510 lb (1,139 kg) in driveable form ready for delivery to the customer’s chosen coachbuilder.

1177 3½ Litre cars were built, with about half of them being bodied by Park Ward, with the remainder «dressed» by other coachbuilders like Barker, Carlton, Freestone & Webb, Gurney Nutting, Hooper, Mann Egerton, Mulliner (both Arthur and H J), Rippon Bros, Thrupp & Maberly, James Young, Vanden Plas and Windovers in England; Figoni et Falaschi, Kellner, Saoutchik and Vanvooren in Paris; and smaller concerns elsewhere in UK and Europe.

A drophead 3½ Litre was briefly featured as James Bond’s personal vehicle in the 1963 movie From Russia with Love.

4¼-litre 4-door sports saloon 1940by Park Ward

Famous first owners

  • Woolf Barnato, racing driver & former Bentley chairman (B121AE, B2DG, B6GA, B121GP)
  • Prince Bira, racing driver and Olympic sailor (B29GP)
  • Sir Malcolm Campbell, nine times World Land Speed Record holder (B141AE, B206GA, B22GA)
  • Billy Cotton, bandleader (B125DG)
  • George Eyston, three time World Land Speed Record holder (B24DG, B82GA)
  • E.R. Hall, racing driver and Winter Olympian (B35AE, B106GA, B216GA)
  • Raymond Mays, racing driver (B125DG, B24GA, B144LS)
  • Robert Montgomery, actor (B63DK)
  • Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, diamond and gold mining entrepreneur, financier and philanthropist (B130BL)
  • Bernard Rubin, racing driver (B109CW)
  • Anthony J Crowley, fictional character (NIAT RUC)


The Derby Bentley was not intended to be used as a racing car, unlike the earlier, pre-Rolls-Royce, cars built by W.O. Bentley. However, some examples were used for competition at an international level, including:

  • A 3½-Litre (later 4¼-Litre) raced by E.R. Hall in the RAC Tourist Trophy (TT) in Ulster in 1934, 1935 and 1936. It was the first competition car built at Rolls-Royce since the car built for Charles Rolls which he had driven to win the 1906 TT, and it was also their last.
  • Hall also raced the 4¼-Litre car at Le Mans in 1950, becoming the first man to drive solo for the entire distance of the race.
  • A 4¼-Litre with a streamlined-body by Pourtout of Paris for Greek racing driver A.M. Embiricos set a record of 115.05 mph (185.16 km/h) at Brooklands.
  • The Embiricos car also raced at Le Mans in 1949, 1950 and 1951 becoming the first car ever to have finished that event three years in succession.


From the outset, the car was intended to compete on quality and grace rather than sporting reputation which had been the cornerstone of the pre-1931 Bentley company. The cars retained the famous curved radiator shape based on earlier Bentley models, but in all meaningful respects they were clearly Rolls-Royces. Although disappointing some traditional customers, they were well received by many others and even W.O. Bentley himself was reported as saying that he would «rather own this Bentley than any other car produced under that name.» The Rolls-Royce Engineer in charge of the development project, Ernest Hives (later Lord Hives), underlined the Rolls-Royce modus operandi in a memo addressed to company staff «our recommendation is that we should make the car as good as we know how and then charge accordingly.» At a time when the Ford 8 could be purchased new for £100, an early Bentley 3½ Litre cost around £1,500 (equivalent to £7.15 thousand vs. £107 thousand today), putting it beyond the reach of all but the wealthiest consumers. Despite not being a car of remarkable outright performance, the car’s unique blend of style and grace proved popular with the inter-war elite and it was advertised under the legend the silent sports car. Over 70% of the cars built between 1933 and 1939 were said to have still been in existence 70 years later. Although chassis production ceased in 1939, a number of cars were still being bodied and delivered during 1940. The last few were delivered and first registered in 1941.

3½-litre fixed head coupéby Bertelli of Feltham 1935

3½-litre aero sports saloonby Rippon Bros. 1935


1939 Bentley 4¼ Litre с кузовом закрытый седан производства Park Ward

Овладение Bently компанией Rolls-Royce в 1931 году лишило первую независимости, но, её имя, по крайне мере, сохранилось. Представленный в августе 1933 года первый из Derby Bentley, как позже по месту производства стали называть эти автомобили, сохранил спортивный дух марки и даже улучшил его.

Созданный на основе автомобиль имел немного укороченную колёсную базу и форсированный до 115 л.с. шестицилиндровый двигатель. Эту комбинацию дополняла четырёхступенчатая коробка с синхронизаторами на третьей и четвёртой передачах и тормозная система с механическим приводом с усилителем. В результате получился спортивный автомобиль бесшумный и лёгкий в управлении. Получивший вскоре прозвище «тихий спорткар», он не имел себе равных в виде неутомимого путешественника, сочетая в себе качество и надёжность Rolls-Royce с ходовыми и скоростными свойствами Bentley.

Как эксклюзивный автомобиль «тихий спорткар» комплектовался заказными кузовами, чаще всего производства Park Ward. Но и другие Британские и не только кузовные фирмы делали для него свои работы, иногда уникальные.

В 1936 году автомобиль, названный 4¼ Litre, получил двигатель увеличенного рабочего объёма. В отличие от аналогичного мотора Rolls-Royce, этот двигатель оборудовался двумя карбюраторами, имел более высокую степень сжатия и распредвал с кулачками особого профиля.

В 1938 году греческий корабельный магнат и большой любитель автоспорта Андре Эмбирикос (André Embiricos) заказал себе специальный автомобиль. Он попросил переделать имевшееся у него открытое купе 4¼ Litre во что-то более быстрое и оригинальное. Французский дизайнер Жорж Полен (англ. Georges Paulin) создал, а на фирме Pourtout изготовили для него, лёгкий обтекаемый кузов из алюминиевого сплава. Получился идеальный автомобиль класса Гран Туризмо, который развивал высокую максимальную скорость и позволял долго удерживать её. Так, на тестах в Brooklands он смог больше часа непрерывно двигаться со скорость выше 180 км/ч.

Background and development

1929 4½ Litre with original Thrupp & Maberly four seat coachwork

Very few vintage Bentleys have survived with their four-seater coachwork intact

Bentley at the 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race is a 24-hour race around the Circuit de la Sarthe. The inaugural race was held 26–27 May 1923, and attracted many drivers, mostly French. There were two foreign competitors in the first race, Frank Clement and Canadian John Duff, the latter winning the 1924 competition in his personal car, a Bentley 3 Litre.

«Made with precision and the finest material,» and with recent success, the luxurious Bentley cars attracted attention. After two years without success, Bentley convened a group of wealthy British men, «united by their love of insouciance, elegant tailoring, and a need for speed,» to renew Bentley’s success. Both drivers and mechanics, these men, later nicknamed the «Bentley Boys», drove Bentley automobiles to victory in several races between 1927 and 1931, including four consecutive wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and forged the brand’s reputation.

It was within this context that, in 1927, Bentley developed the Bentley 4½ Litre. Two cylinders were removed from the 6½ Litre model, reducing the displacement to 4.4 litres. At the time, the 3 Litre and the 6½ Litre were already available, but the 3 Litre was an outdated, under-powered model and the 6½ Litre’s image was tarnished by poor tyre performance.

Tim Birkin and the Blower Bentley

Tim Birkin’s Bentley Blower No.1, shown at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Sir Henry »Tim» Birkin, described as «the greatest British driver of his day» by W. O. Bentley, was one of the Bentley Boys. He refused to adhere strictly to Bentley’s assertion that increasing displacement is always preferable to forced induction. Birkin, aided by a former Bentley mechanic, decided to produce a series of five supercharged models for the competition at the 24 Hours of Le Mans;Mercedes-Benz had been using superchargers for years.

Thus the 4½ litre Blower Bentley was born. The first supercharged Bentley had been a 3-litre FR5189 which had been supercharged at the Cricklewood factory in the winter of 1926/7.[citation needed] The Bentley Blower No.1 was officially presented in 1929 at the British International Motor Show at Olympia, London. The 55 copies were built to comply with 24 Hours of Le Mans regulations. Birkin arranged for the construction of the supercharged cars having received approval from Bentley chairman and majority shareholder Woolf Barnato and financing from wealthy horse racing enthusiast Dorothy Paget. Development and construction of the supercharged Bentleys was done in a workshop in Welwyn Garden City by Amherst Villiers, who also provided the superchargers.

W.O. Bentley was hostile to forced induction and believed that «to supercharge a Bentley engine was to pervert its design and corrupt its performance.» However, having lost control of the company he founded to Barnato, he could not halt Birkin’s project.

Bentley timeline, 1920s–present

Type 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020s
Ownership Bentley Motors Limited(1919–1931) Rolls-RoyceBentley Motors (1931) Limited(1931–1980) Vickers plcRolls-RoyceBentley Motors (1931) Limited(1980–1998) Volkswagen Group(1998–)
Coachbuilder’sopen2/4 seater 3 L 4½ L6½ LSpeed Six
Coachbuilder’slarge salooncoupé orconvertible 6½ LSpeed Six8 L 4L3½ 4¼LMark V Mark VI R S1S2S3 T
Cont Continental S1Continental S2Continental S3
Cars with Bentley own-factory coachwork
Largesaloon Mark VI R S1S2S3 T1 T2 Mulsanne Brooklands Arnage Mulsanne
Turbo R
Coupé Corniche Continental R/S/T Br.
Convertible Corniche Continental Azure
Bentleys on the Volkswagen platform
Largesaloon ContinentalFlying Spur
Coupé Continental GT
Convertible Continental GTC
SUV Bentayga
  • Walter Owen Bentley (founder)
  • A marque of the Volkswagen Group
  • Bentley Boys

Bentley timeline, 1921–1931

type /class 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931
Sports car 3 L
4½ L & Blower
Grand tourer 6½ L & Speed Six 4L
Luxury vehicle 8 L
  • founder: Walter Owen Bentley
  • A marque of the Volkswagen Group
  • Bentley Boys
  1. .

Bentley timeline, 1920s–present

Type 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020s
Ownership Bentley Motors Limited(1919–1931) Rolls-RoyceBentley Motors (1931) Limited(1931–1980) Vickers plcRolls-RoyceBentley Motors (1931) Limited(1980–1998) Volkswagen Group(1998–)
Coachbuilder’sopen2/4 seater 3 L 4½ L6½ LSpeed Six
Coachbuilder’slarge salooncoupé orconvertible 6½ LSpeed Six8 L 4L3½ 4¼LMark V Mark VI R S1S2S3 T
Cont Continental S1Continental S2Continental S3
Cars with Bentley own-factory coachwork
Largesaloon Mark VI R S1S2S3 T1 T2 Mulsanne Brooklands Arnage Mulsanne
Turbo R
Coupé Corniche Continental R/S/T Br.
Convertible Corniche Continental Azure
Bentleys on the Volkswagen platform
Largesaloon ContinentalFlying Spur
Coupé Continental GT
Convertible Continental GTC
SUV Bentayga
  • Walter Owen Bentley (founder)
  • A marque of the Volkswagen Group
  • Bentley Boys


Engine near-side

Engine off-side

Although the Bentley 4½ Litre was heavy, weighing 1,625 kg (3,583 lb), and spacious, with a length of 4,380 mm (172 in) and a wheelbase of 3,302 mm (130.0 in), it remained well-balanced and steered nimbly. The manual transmission, however, required skill, as its four gears were unsynchronised.

The robustness of the 4½ Litre’s lattice chassis, made of steel and reinforced with ties, was needed to support the heavy cast iron inline-four engine.

The engine was «resolutely modern» for the time. The displacement was 4,398 cc (268.4 cu in): 100 mm (3.9 in) bore and 140 mm (5.5 in) stroke. Two SU carburetters and dual ignition with Bosch magnetos were fitted. The engine produced 110 hp (82 kW) for the touring model and 130 hp (97 kW) for the racing model. The engine speed was limited to 4,000 rpm. A single overhead camshaft actuated four valves per cylinder, inclined at 30 degrees. This was a technically advanced design at a time where most cars used only two valves per cylinder. The camshaft was driven by bevel gears on a vertical shaft at the front of the engine, as on the 3 Litre engine.

The Bentley’s tanks — radiator, oil and petrol — had quick release filler caps that opened with one stroke of a lever. This saved time during pit stops.

This 4½ was equipped with a canvas top stretched over a lightweight Weymann body. The hood structure was very light but with high wind resistance (24 Hours Le Mans rules between 1924 and 1928 dictated a certain number of laps for which the hood had to be closed). The steering wheel measured about 45 cm (18 in) in diameter and was wrapped with solid braided rope for improved grip.

Brakes were conventional, consisting of 17-inch (430 mm) drum brakes finned for improved cooling and operated by rod. Semi-elliptic leaf springs were used at front and rear.

Blower Bentley

Front of a «Blower Bentley», showing the supercharger in front of the grille

Intake manifold of a «Blower Bentley»

The essential difference between the Bentley 4½ Litre and the Blower was the addition of a Roots-type supercharger to the Blower engine by engineer Amherst Villiers, who had also produced the supercharger. W. O. Bentley, as chief engineer of the company he had founded, refused to allow the engine to be modified to incorporate the supercharger. As a result, the supercharger was placed at the end of the crankshaft, in front of the radiator. This gave the Blower Bentley an easily recognisable appearance and also increased the car’s understeer due to the additional weight at the front. A guard protected the two carburetters located at the compressor intake. Similar protection was used, both in the 4½ Litre and the Blower, for the fuel tank at the rear, because a flying stone punctured the 3 Litre of Frank Clement and John Duff during the first 24 Hours of Le Mans, which contributed to their defeat.

The crankshaft, pistons and lubrication system were special to the Blower engine. It produced 175 hp (130 kW) at 3,500 rpm for the touring model and 240 hp (180 kW) at 4,200 rpm for the racing version, which was more power than the Bentley 6½ Litre developed.[citation needed]

In 2019–2020, Bentley scanned all 630 components that made up the Blower so that they could digitally re-create it and create 12 new models.

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