Famous Le Mans-Winning Record-Breaking First 4½-Liter Bentley Leads Bonhams Goodwood Festival Of Speed Sale
Bonhams is holding a very special sale of race and road cars on July 5 at the forthcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed event. We knew already about Nigel Mansell’s Formula 1 championship-winning Williams FW14B going under the hammer there, which is anticipated to bring in around £3,000,000. But it’s rivalled at the same sale by the most well-known of Bentley specials. It is the first Bentley 4½-Liter ever made and also won the Le Mans 24 Hour race. And this of course is Bentley’s centenary year!
This car’s official name is the 1927 Bentley Jackson Special, though it’s better known as Old Mother Gun. It is no stranger to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, nor indeed to the Goodwood Revival, as a frequent racer at both. Indeed, such is the car’s celebrity that at last year’s Goodwood Festival the event’s kingpin the Duke of Richmond personally selected it as one of the 25 greatest cars to mark 25 years of the popular event. This time though, rather than tackling the hill, it goes to the Festival looking for a new owner.
This “ST3001” chassis was constructed in June 1927 as a Bentley works car and made its debut in that year’s Le Mans. And while Old Mother Gun retired from the race—embroiled in the infamous White House Crash that involved several cars, including the entire Bentley team—it was leading at the time and broke the circuit record on only the second lap of the race. It then won another 24-hour race held at the Le Mans circuit in August that year, the Grand Prix de Paris, and did so by over 80 miles. Old Mother Gun distinguished itself further by winning Le Mans in 1928, co-driven by famous Bentley Boy Woolf Barnato, who gave the car its “Old Mother Gun” nickname. The car then returned to the French endurance race the following year and finished second.
The car’s previous isn’t all about Le Mans either, and it has weighty Brooklands heritage as well. Indeed at the last-ever race meeting held at the famous Brooklands circuit in Surrey in southern England, in 1939, it claimed the last of only 17 130mph badges ever awarded. And amazingly three of these badges were awarded to Old Mother Gun drivers! Subsequently the car was clocked at almost 150mph. Stanley Mann Racing restored the car in 1989 and it since has been used extensively at events and exhibitions, and in the 1990s it set many more speed marks.
Old Mother Gun and the FW14B lead an impressive range of cars at Bonhams’ Goodwood sale. There also will be going under the hammer a 2004 Toyota F1 car, formerly a test machine, which is estimated to bring in £60,000 to £80,000. It will be joined by a 7.0-liter Jaguar V12 engine-powered Lister Storm that was entered by Lister Racing in FIA GT events from 2001 to ’03 as a factory car, and won a race at Anderstorp in the last of those years. It’s estimated at £450,000 to £550,000. It’s not all about racing cars either, as among many other impressive machines heading to auction there will also be 1934 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 “Long Chassis” Tourer, the first eight-cylinder Alfa Romeo road car, which is predicted to bring in a whole £4,000,000 to £5,000,000.
Images courtesy of Bonhams