Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla won the Irish Derby on his first attempt in June 1926 when his horse Embargo finished first. Perhaps in celebration he ordered a Bentley 3 litre, and commissioned the coachbuilders Connaught to design a sports coupe for him.
It was thus that this exciting January 1927 racer, bearing chassis no. LT1585, and engine no. LT1583 was crafted. It was delivered to my grandfather at The Savoy, London as he arrived in the UK that early summer.
This photograph of the car is featured in the book ‘Bentley: The Vintage Years’ edition 3, page 60.
Incidentally, it was a Bentley 3 litre that won The 24 Hours of Le Mans, that year of 1927 on 18th and 19th June, the world’s oldest active sports car endurance race, held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, France.
It was most likely in the autumn of the same year that the Maharaja sold his Bentley to a Miss Thompson before he returned to India for the winter. By now I have studied my grandfather well enough to understand that he did not believe in holding on to things. Rather, he
moved on to other things that caught his fancy. He had enjoyed driving around in his 3 litre for well nigh six months, and he figured that there was no use keeping it garaged for another half a year until he returned to England. And sure enough, he bought a Riley sports car the next summer of 1928 in which he zoomed in and out of his estate ‘The Manor’ at Old Windsor.
My grateful thanks to Rolls-Royce and Bentley experts Mr. Rob Geelen, Mr. Wayne Kennerley and Mr. John Fasal, and automobile researcher Mr. Prem Kumar for helping me research this sporty Bentley 3 litre of my grandfather.
(Indra Vikram Singh, grandson of Maharaja Sir Vijaysinhji of Rajpipla, can be contacted on email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. His other blog is indravikramsingh.blogspot.in).