We're used to seeing chassis numbers on collector cars go on for several digits. But not this one. This one is chassis number 3. That's it. And that's because this is the oldest production Bentley in existence.
Following EXP 1 and EXP 2 – the former of which is no longer with us, the latter kept in Bentley's corporate collection – this 1921 Bentley 3-Litre was the first production model to leave the factory. And it's in immaculate condition, despite having been raced through much of its life. In fact, while Bentley's own EXP 2 has had many parts replaced by now, Chassis No. 3 here is all original, down to the aluminum coachwork, brass brightwork, engine and gearbox.
This extremely rare example of automotive history is going up on the auction block at Pebble Beach in August under the auspices of Gooding & Company, along with an exceptional motorcycle we'll be bringing you shortly. So stay tuned and don't forget to check out the high-resolution images in the gallery for a closer look.
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (June 14, 2011) – Gooding & Company, the world's leading auction house for collectors of rare and exceptional vehicles, is thrilled to announce two Pebble Beach Auctions consignments: Chassis 3, the oldest surviving production Bentley in existence, and a 1931 Brough Superior motorcycle once the personal property of both legendary icon Steve McQueen and prolific motorcycle and custom car artist Von Dutch.
"We're delighted to present extraordinary collector examples of two renowned British marques, the 1921 Bentley Chassis 3 and McQueen's beloved 1931 Brough Superior SS80, at our Pebble Beach Auctions," says David Gooding, President and founder of Gooding & Company. "Both the Bentley and Brough Superior represent special opportunities for collectors who value provenance, historical significance and authenticity."
Chassis 3, the Oldest Surviving Production Bentley
One of the most important Bentleys in existence, this 1921 Bentley 3 Litre was the first customer car to leave the Bentley factory. Chassis 3 is an extraordinary, matching-numbers car with brass brightwork and an original aluminum body with fully disappearing top as specified by the first owner. It's participation in Vintage Bentley rallies, and many other recent events, attests to the car's usability. Chassis 3 is a special addition to Gooding & Company's Pebble Beach Auctions this August, and its estimate is available on request.
1931 Brough Superior SS80, a Legendary Motorcycle Owned by the Legend Himself
Of the hundreds of motorcycles Steve McQueen personally owned, this extraordinary pre-war SS80 was one of his personal favorites. It was also McQueen's only Brough Superior, a historically significant, high-performance British motorcycle marque made famous by World War I British army officer T.E. Lawrence, otherwise known as Lawrence of Arabia, who for many years had been a major proponent of the motorcycles. Purchased in the 1970s and for some time thereafter, McQueen shared the Brough Superior SS80 with his close friend and renowned artist Von Dutch. Bound by their appreciation for this beloved motorcycle, the two legendary enthusiasts shared the SS80 between them throughout their lives and agreed that whoever passed away first would bequeath the bike to the other.
The motorcycle exists today in wonderful, unrestored condition. The ex-McQueen and Von Dutch 1931 Brough Superior SS80 will be presented at Gooding & Company's Pebble Beach Auctions along with a letter of authenticity written by Steve's son, Chad McQueen. Its estimate is $100,000 - $200,000 and it will be offered without reserve.
The 2011 Pebble Beach Auctions will take place on Saturday and Sunday, August 20 & 21 at the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center, located at the corner of Portola Road and Stevenson Drive. Preview days will start on Wednesday, August 17 and will continue through Sunday, August 21. The auctions will commence at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. Gooding & Company's Pebble Beach Auctions catalogues are available for $100 and admit two to the viewing and the auctions. General admission tickets to the viewing and auctions may be purchased on site for $40. Auctions are broadcast live from Gooding & Company's website at www.goodingco.com/auction. Bidder registration forms, press credentials and additional auction information are also available online or by calling (310) 899-1960. For additional vehicle information and up-to-the-minute results, follow Gooding & Company on Facebook and Twitter @GoodingCompany.