1926 3 litre speed YN9097

The 3 Litre Speed was the first performance-focused Bentley, and started a nameplate still in use today to signify the most performance-focused members of Bentley’s model range.

The Bentley 3 Litre

The 3 Litre represents W.O. Bentley’s original vision of ‘a fast car, a good car, the best in its class’ brought to life. It stayed in production from 1921 to 1929 and won countless races, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1924 and 1927. Production of the 3 Litre was slow at first, but Bentley’s order books were soon packed with the names of wealthy and aristocratic clients, including Prince George (later the Duke of Kent), the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) and the Duke of York, later King George VI. The 3 Litre remained in production until 1929, and models included the standard wheelbase Blue Label (for which Bentley literature claimed “with four passengers it is guaranteed the machine will lap Brooklands at 75mph”), Red Label Speed and 100mph Green Label models. It remained the mainstay of the Bentley range in production volumes until the introduction of the 4½ Litre. 1,622 examples of the 3 Litre were built.

The Speed Model

IN 1924, Bentley launched the 3 Litre Speed Model, with a power increase from 70 to 80 bhp achieved by increasing the engine’s compression ratio. A shorter wheelbase than the standard 3 Litre was used, at 9’ 9.5”.


Bentley’s own 3 Litre Speed was built in 1926 and delivered to renowned Bentley race Forrest Lycett. Fully restored and with matching numbers throughout, YN9097 is a perfect example of the quality, speed and athleticism of the 3 Litre.

Date Produced1921-1929, this example 1926
Chassis/engine no.PH1454 / PH1454
Number Built1,622 total of which 513 were Speeds
BodyOpen tourer; 2-doors, 4-seats, Vanden Plas body
EngineStraight-4. 2,996 cc, four valves per cylinder, twin spark, overhead camshaft with bevel drive. Cast iron monobloc, twin ‘Sloper’ SU carburettors.
Power80 bhp @ 3500 rpm
TransmissionFour-speed manual
ChassisPressed steel frame, 117.5 in chassis
PerformanceMaximum speed 90 mph (145 km/h)


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