At Pebble Beach, the world’s oldest surviving production Bentley traded hands yesterday. The 1921 model, 3-liter ‘Chssis Number 3’ sold for almost a million dollars. 90 years after Bentley’s very first customer, Noel Van Raalte, took delivery of chassis number 3 (registered AX 3827 in the UK) for the princely sum of £1,150, that same 3-Litre graced the Gooding & Co. auction at Pebble Beach, commanding a price of $962,500. Gooding & Co’s final auction price includes 10% buyer’s premium
Chassis number 3 is an extraordinary, ‘matching-numbers’ car with original aluminium coachwork and brass brightwork. The marque’s signature craftsmanship and engineering capabilities, introduced by company founder W.O. Bentley, are evident even in this oldest surviving production 3 Litre. The true test of the engineering of the 3 Litre came with wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in 1924 and 1927, the start of an epic run of five Bentley victories in eight years.
“Pebble Beach is the ideal venue to showcase Bentleys old and new,” said Chairman & Chief Executive, Wolfgang Dürheimer. “On the same day that Gooding & Co. auctioned the world’s oldest surviving production Bentley, we hosted a private preview of a brand new model. During Monterey week, the enthusiasm for the evolution of the automobile is palpable.”