Collectors can buy this 1931 Bentley 4½ Litre Tourer online

Car collectors around the world will be able to bid online in new auction house Brooklands' classic automobiles sale, which takes place tomorrow (June 2).

It's hoped that i-bidder technology will make the sale, being held at the Brooklands Museum in Surrey, UK, more accessible to new collectors and investors.

Brooklands also hopes that the internet will encourage overseas bidders, with enthusiasts from all over the world able to take part in the "live" auction.

Overseas collectors will also be able to view the lots in their local currency.

According to the auction house, prospective buyers can see each lot on screen and will receive updates via a live audio feed which will broadcast the current bids in real time.

The 1931 Bentley 4½ Litre Vanden Plas Open Tourer

Among the classics up for sale is this exceptional 1931 Bentley 4½ Litre Vanden Plas Open Tourer, the 16th-to-last of its kind ever-built.

The 4 ½ Litre began serious production in 1927, and was originally intended as a half-way step between the 3 Litre (thought to have reached its performance potential) and the tyre-consuming 6 Litre.

Maintaining the 3 Litre's basic chassis, including its semi-elliptical suspension and four-wheel brakes, the 4 ½ Litre had a straight-four engine bored out to 100mm, producing 4.4 litres of displacement.

Road models were capable of 110hp, while racing versions were tweaked to 130hp. The latter claiming victory at the 24 Hours due Man in 1928, raced by legends Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin.

Later, after much debate in the boardrooms at Bentley, a supercharged version of the 4 ½ would supersede the 6 Litre as the manufacturer's "great white hope" on the racetrack.

Because it is was built later in the production run, this 1931 example features many of the improvements added to the supercharged 4 ½ litre cars.

An authentic John Bentley supercharger was added to the car in the 1990s

And, aside from its features, the historic auto also has an interesting life story.

After 'vanishing from the radar for a few years', the car later reappeared in London during the Blitz in 1940-41. At this time, it had been converted to a utility vehicle and was used to carry supplies during the war.

Around 1961, the car was acquired by Sir Malin Sorsbie, then Chief Game Warden of Kenya. He sent it to London where the coachwork was restored to resemble its original Harrison body.

The car went through another five-year restoration in the 1980s, and was rebodied to sport Birkin-style Vanden Plas team coachwork - with a John Bentley supercharger added - in the 1990s.

According to Brooklands, the car's vendor has owned it since late-2007, purchased from a Japanese collection. It has since become well-known and appreciated in Bentley collectors' circles.

This historic automobile will auction at Brooklands' Surrey sale tomorrow with a one-year MoT test certificate and Swansea V5C registration certificate.


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