A 1921 3 Litre Bentley, believed to be the oldest surviving production model, is being auctioned by Gooding & Company at its Pebble Beach sale on Aug. 20–21.

Chassis No. 3 as it’s known features the original brass trim, wooden dash, gauges, aluminum body and 70 hp engine.

The very first Bentleys were not available to just anyone, even if they had the money.

Bentley Motors founder W.O. Bentley first envisioned the firm as a sort of invitation-only club, Nick Foulkes notes in Bentley: A Motoring Miscellany.

A 1921 3-liter Bentley, the oldest ever delivered to a customer, being offered by Gooding & Company at its Pebble Beach sale

The right customer, W.O. insisted, “had to be something of a social butterfly who would mix in the best social strata and spread the good word far and wide, [as well as] something of an engineer who could appreciate the qualities of the car and talk about them authoritatively.”

The 3 Litre claimed victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1924 and 1927 earning a place in the pantheon.

It managed to survive World War II, and remains an elegant example of W.O.’s early feats of automotive engineering.

Even better – the fellow who’s selling it is named Thurston Twigg-Smith Jr.

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