21st Jun, 2023 13:00

The Alexander 'Alex' Tanner Collection

  Lot 53


1931 Bentley 4-Litre Three-Position Drophead Coupé

1931 Bentley 4-Litre Three-Position Drophead Coupé
Coachwork by Freestone & Webb
Registration Number: ALC 250
Chassis Number: VA4100
Engine Number: BM7860/VP4028

As the Depression took hold, sales of Bentley's celebrated 4½ -Litre model declined. While Rolls-Royce were producing the highly successful 20/25hp model, Bentley's newest offering, the extravagant 8-Litre, was desperately out of step with the times. Bentley urgently needed a new model to try to turn their fortunes around.

On the Management Committee's instruction, and much to W O Bentley's disdain, a 4-Litre six-cylinder engine designed by Ricardo was utilised in a chassis closely based on their contemporary 8-Litre, and offered in two wheelbase lengths, 11ft 2in and 11ft 8in. The new engine had an inlet-over-exhaust design, of a similar arrangement that would power Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars after the war until the late 1950s.

The 4-Litre has been much maligned and seems to be little understood, most probably as so few were built, but it's worth remembering that Bentley boss, Cpt. Woolf Barnato, used a 4-Litre as his personal transport in period. All of this said, many consider the 4-Litre to have perhaps the best chassis, gearbox and rear axle combination of all pre-War Bentleys, and as such, many were converted into 6½ and 8-litre specials.

Extremely rare cars - only fifty 4-Litres were completed before the original Bentley company's liquidation - ALC 250 is reputed to be the last of those cars built and one of just 39 short-chassis cars produced.

With stunning original 3-position drophead coachwork by Freestone & Webb, this is a highly attractive car.

Finished in dark green over black paint with silver-painted wire wheels. The interior is in lovely mellowed condition with very dark green leather with green carpets and a fabulous wooden dash.

Running and driving very well at our recent inspection, the car sounds glorious with a positivity addictive deep vintage exhaust note, and performance is said to rival the Derby 3½-Litre cars.

The history file includes photographs of comprehensive restoration work, some old MoTs, previous ownership history and a copy of chassis records etc. Chassis VA 4100 was the last 4-litre chassis built by Bentley Motors and probably the last W O Bentley built by the old company.

Note: A spare 4-Litre engine is available to purchase by separate negotiation. Enquiries should be directed to Sworders.

Take advantage of our Sworders Delivery Service. Please see 'Shipping estimate' below.

Sold for £110,000



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Auction: The Alexander 'Alex' Tanner Collection, 21st Jun, 2023


By order of the executors of Alex Tanner, we are delighted to present this fine single owner collection of pre-war classic and modern Bentleys, a Riley RMB and a US Army Dodge Troop Carrier, together with a collection of Automobilia, acquired over some 27 years by former Chairman of the Bentley Drivers Club.




Stansted Viewing | Auction

Viewing will be held at our Stansted Auction Rooms, Cambridge Road, Stansted Mountfitchet CM24 8GE, as follows:

Friday 16 June, 10am - 4pm 

Saturday 17 June, 10am - 1pm 

Sunday 18 June, 10am - 1pm 

Monday 19 June, 10am - 4pm

Tuesday 20 June, 10am - 4pm  

Wednesday 21 June, 10am - 1pm

Please Note:  Viewing is dependent on the purchase of a sale catalogue at £15. 


The auction will take place at our Stansted Auction Rooms, Cambridge Road, Stansted Mountfitchet CM24 8GE.

View all lots in this sale

Please note that this item is not suitable for a pre-sale automated shipping estimate due to the items weight/size. 

The below table shows indicative shipping costs for larger items being delivered within the UK mainland. Please note that all the below costs are purely for indicative purposes and are to be used as a guideline only. If you purchase multiple large items, we will combine deliveries to reduce the shipping costs. 

Should you be successful in buying this item, a specific shipping estimate will need to be requested after the sale using the link in your invoice email; this also includes all requests for international delivery.

If you would like further information about shipping and collection please see here.


Buying a pre-loved, antique, or vintage item not only provides you with unique style and value for money but it also helps to reduce landfill, and the annual emissions of an antique or vintage piece can be as little as one sixteenth of those of its new equivalent!

Sworders is proud to be supporting the work of Antiques are Green - the movement that was founded in 2009 to promote “a greener future created from the past”. Read their fascinating carbon footprint study of a Georgian chest of drawers versus a modern equivalent here


Antiques are Green


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