How The 1926 Bentley 3-Liter Turned The World’s Quickest Lorry

It wasn’t really a “lorry” per se. The 1926 Bentley 3-Liter is a sports activities automotive that was manufactured by the British automaker Bentley. It’s not shocking that Bentley 3-Liter was nicknamed a “lorry” attributable to its weight and dimension. The automotive was developed in 1919 and started promoting from 1921 by 1929. It first appeared on the 1919 London Motor Present, the place the delicate Clive Gallop-designed engine and distinctive chassis made it the focal point.

The chassis was not instantly made accessible to coachbuilders because it took the newly-minted marquee one other two years to systematize the engine. Constructed particularly as a Le Mans endurance racing prototype sports activities automotive, the 3-Liter was among the many pioneers of overhead camshaft that includes 4 valves per cylinder. Additionally, the higher a part of the engine (the cylinder head) and the decrease half (the block) was solid as one piece with house for 2 spark plugs per cylinder.

This avant-garde engine design plus the Vanden Plas bodywork helped propel Bentley 3-Liter to the end line on the 1924 Le Mans and one other win by the Tremendous Sports activities trim in 1927. Throughout its lengthy manufacturing run, 1,622 examples had been produced, together with 513 short-chassis Pace fashions and 18 Tremendous Sports activities.

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The 1926 Bentley 3-Liter: How Quick Was The World’s Quickest Lorry?

Do you imply the world’s quickest lorry as within the quickest truck or Semi? Nicely, that’d very possible be Volvo’s custom-built Iron Knight. The Knight’s aerodynamically optimized cab and fiberglass physique enable it to cowl 62 miles from a standing place in 4.6 seconds and obtain a high pace exceeding 171 mph.

If another Semi can beat Iron Knight’s 2,400 horsepower, we’ve not heard of it but, and the Bentley 3-Liter has by no means claimed to be an precise truck or lorry. Bentley’s “lorry” boasted an untuned energy output hovering round 70 hp, giving it the oomph to achieve a high pace of 80 mph. The 1926 Pace Mannequin may attain 90 mph, whereas the Tremendous Sports activities mannequin may go even additional.

No have to get confused over the phrases “Lorry” and “Truck” or “Semi.” It was the German automaker Ettore Bugatti that used the phrase “lorry” to explain the 3-Liter. It was a praise, thoughts you. If Bentley had been an American model, Bugatti would’ve known as 3-Liter the quickest truck. So, seeing as Bentley was British, it was both that or “der schnellste Lkw der Welt.”

However how did the 3-Liter sports activities automotive get the quickest lorry nickname? As a result of it beat Bugatti on the race tracks, though it was considerably bigger than the 1,368 cc Bugatti racers that dominated the circuits at the moment. Weighing a stable 4,000 lb, the 3-Liter may beat the lighter racing giants as a result of it compensated for its weight and dimension by doubling its engine dimension and physique energy, due to the Vanden Plas bodywork.

Vanden Plas was the go-to British coachbuilder for up-market car producers earlier than making a reputation for itself as a premium badge on luxurious manufacturers just like the British Leyland and latterly, the Jaguar XJ. Pushed by John Duff and Frank Clement, Bentley 3-Liter gained the 1924 Le Mans. It gained once more in 1927, pushed by Dudley Benjafield and Sammy Davis.

The automotive had three official variants recognized by colours – Blue Label, Pink Label, and Inexperienced Label – of which the 1926 Bentley 3-Liter fell within the Pink Label and Inexperienced Label bracket. The 117.5 inches wheelbase chassis that includes a 5.3:1 excessive compression engine acquired the Pink Label designation. They had been produced between 1924 and 1929.

The Inexperienced Label Bentley 3-Liter was additionally produced throughout the identical interval because the Pink Label however featured a shorter 108 inches wheelbase chassis and 6.3:1 compression engine. The Inexperienced Label may assure 100 mph and thus probably the most coveted and rarest 3-Liter. Not like the Pink and Blue labels bought with a 5-year guarantee, the Inexperienced Label carried a one-year guarantee, indicating the latter’s excessive state of tune.

The title, Bentley 3-Liter, does sound like a curious case. It was derived from the three.0L 2,996 cc inline-4 engine. The designer was a member of the defunct Royal Flying Corps who succeeded in presenting Bentley with probably the most technically refined engine of that period. A goodly portion of the three.0L inline-4’s DNA incorporates German engineering, as Bentley had benefitted from classes gleaned from dissecting the heart of Grand Prix winner, a 1914 Mercedes Daimler M93654 racing engine.

On the instigation of Royal Naval Air Service member Walter Owen Bentley, the Service seized and proceeded to disembowel and scrutinize the Grand Prix-winning Mercedes displayed on the marque’s Lengthy Acre London showroom. Subsequently, parts just like the cast-iron monobloc engine configuration and aluminum-enclosed camshaft had been borrowed from the German-made Mercedes.

The engine produced a bore of 80 mm (3.1 in) and a stroke of 149 mm (5.9 in). The factor is that the Mercedes was a racing prototype, making the Bentley 3-Liter one, if not the primary manufacturing automobile to characteristic an engine of that energy and efficiency. Bugatti’s race vehicles shared an analogous engine design that includes twin carburetors and optimization for low-end torque. Bentley mated the engine to a 4-speed gearbox.


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How A lot Is The Bentley 3-Liter?

The three-Liter is undoubtedly an everlasting basic. A replica with chassis quantity 3 was bought at a 2011 public sale for $962,500, together with a purchaser’s premium. That is almost one million {dollars}, which is simply as nicely, contemplating that it was the oldest surviving manufacturing Bentley 3-Liter with a physique by English coachbuilder R. Harrison & Son.

You understand what else is critical about that coachbuilder we talked about earlier, Vanden Plas? Clients at the moment didn’t go to a dealership to order themselves a brand-new Bentley 3-Liter. As a substitute, Bentley delivered the chassis to the client’s most well-liked coachbuilder. Because it turned out, Bentley referred a lot of its clients to Vanden Plas, most certainly as they had been neighbors.

The purchasers weren’t at all times personal patrons. Sellers ordered chassis principally the only and least expensive variants, particularly tourers. The very best a part of this association is that two 3-Liter vehicles are hardly the identical since they had been the craftsmanship of varied coachbuilders and normally custom-made to a supplier or buyer’s distinctive design.

If there was a basic automotive occasion with attendees displaying off their Bentley 3-Liters, they’re prone to spend most of their time admiring and trying out the variations in one another’s vehicles.

Homeowners included Prince George, Duke of Kent, Gertrude Lawrence, and Beatrice Lillie. You may view an unique, unrestored 1927 3-Liter Pace Mannequin (Pink Label) on the Simeone Basis Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, PA, USA. The Museum’s copy with chassis quantity 1209 DE competed in pre-war highway racing completion in America, the one Bentley to take action.

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