You go ahead, try and find a car engine in production with a displacement larger than its cylinder count. It won't take much to realize that means that each cylinder would have to displace over a liter. Only a few of the most monstrous of Detroit steel – Chevrolet's venerable 8.1-liter big block, for one – even come close. But this does: the Bentley 4½ Litre.
Sure, 4.5 liters may not sound like all that much, but when you consider that it's a straight-four everything comes into perspective. Top that off with a supercharger and you're talking some serious muscle. Well, 110-130 horsepower (depending on tuning), but that was a lot back in 1931. It was also enough to take this particular model – chassis #FS3621 – from London to Kenya, through Pennsylvania and New York, back to England a few times, to South Africa and Japan in the decades since its construction. Along the way it'd been put to all sorts of uses, from patrolling African game reserves to delivering war-relief supplies, and rebodied a couple of times as well by such coachbuilders as Harrison and Vanden Plas.
The most recent chapter was written just a few days ago when this particular example sold for a princely £670,500 – that's just shy of a million in American greenbacks, and not bad for the first auction held by rookie auction house Historics at Brooklands. Have a closer look in the image gallery below.
[Source: Historics at Brooklands]