1928 Bentley 4.5-Litre Le Mans Sports
1928 Bentley 4.5-Litre Le Mans Sports

Factory Bentley Le Mans Team Car Offered in Amelia Island

A 1928 Bentley 4 1/2-Litre Le Mans Sports that twice raced at Le Mans will be among the featured cars at the RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction, scheduled for March 10-11, 2017 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Amelia Island, Florida. The ‘Bobtail’ is one of two factory team cars to claim podium finishes at two major endurance races in period.

Sporting coachwork by Vanden Plas and finished in Napier Green, chassis KM3088 was born for competition. A two-time factory team Le Mans entrant, the 4.5-Litre Bentley competed as part of the Works team at both the 1928 and 1929 events, finishing 3rd overall in 1929. Just a month earlier, KM3088 established its race pedigree at the 1929 Brooklands Double Twelve, clocking an average 81.39 mph to finish 2nd overall. The car remained with its Works team following the 1929 season where it was used for practice, prior to being sold to its first private owner. KM3088 has been owned by a limited chain of collectors over the years, notably spending significant periods of time in single ownership.

KM3088’s first longtime private custodian, Lauchlan Rose — who, reportedly drove the British giant to work on occasion, an activity that also involved after lunch laps around the Brooklands circuit—purchased the car in 1930. Other than for a brief period, KM3088 remained with the Rose family through 1971. The ‘Bobtail’ then moved into the custody of English collector, Bill Lake, forming part of his pre-war sports car collection for 33 years, and only sold after he passed.

The Bentley most recently sold for $6,050,000 at the 2012 Gooding & Company Pebble Beach sale. Rick Carey called it “A singularly important Bentley with a continuous history from new that has never been broken up, disassembled or made up from a few significant parts. It is choicely positioned to put its new owner in the seats of Clement and Benjafield at Le Mans in 1928.”

In recent years, KM3088 has been the recipient of a preservation restoration by marque specialists. It comes to Amelia Island with a report by Bentley Historian Dr. Clare Hay (Est. $6,500,000 – $7,500,000).

“We’re thrilled to be presenting this Bentley ‘Bobtail’ at Amelia Island—a proven venue for offering the world’s most important automobiles,” said Gord Duff, Auction Manager, RM Sotheby’s. “A superb motor car in every sense, the ‘Bobtail’ is part of the Bentley legend, rarer than a Bentley Blower, and extremely eligible for countless events and international concours. It’s a terrific addition to our already unprecedented lineup, which also includes a fantastic Ferrari 250 GT SWB and the one-of-three Bugatti Type 57S Cabriolet.”

Further offerings at RM’s 2017 Amelia Island sale include a collection of sporting cars, offered without reserve. Spanning 60 years of automotive design, this group comprises a mix of show-winning restorations contrasted against well-preserved, all-original cars, and is highlighted by a one-of-two 1956 Maserati A6G/54 Frua Coupe Series III, chassis 2181. With its two-tone red and black exterior and a cream interior, the Frua Coupe was a class winner at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours (Est. $1,600,000 – $2,000,000).

Additional highlights include:

  • Matching-numbers, Ferrari Classiche certified 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB, chassis 06681 (Est. $1,600,000 – $1,800,000);
  • 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America, chassis B24S-1072, which displays a Pebble Beach class-winning restoration (Est. $1,400,000 – $1,800,000);
  • All-original 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Coupe Zagato, chassis 01915, a high-nose Zagato GT and veteran of the 1955 and 1956 Mille Miglia (Est. $800,000 – $1,000,000);
  • Trio of Porsches, ranging from an all-original 1974 Carrera RS 3.0 (Est. $900,000 – $1,100,000) and a matching-numbers 1973 Carrera RS 2.7 Lightweight (Est. $800,000 – $1,000,000) to a 2005 Carrera GT in black over tan (Est. $750,000 – $850,000).

The official auction of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island sale returns to the Ritz-Carlton, March 10-11. The sale has been extended to two days in 2017 with the previously announced ‘A Gentleman’s Collection: The Pride and Passion of Orin Smith’ to be offered largely without reserve during an evening auction on March 10. RM Sotheby’s traditional Amelia Island day sale, featuring the Bentley ‘Bobtail’ and the private sports car collection highlighted above, will be held March 11.

For further information, visit www.rmsothebys.com or call +1 519 352 4575.

[Source: RM Sotheby’s; photos: Darin Schnabel]