Bentley motorcars have always been built to be driven.
That is as true today as it was in 1919 when W. O. Bentley designed
the first vintage Bentley. The early history was written on
the racetracks with the spirit of the Bentley Boys. They celebrated
five magnificent Le Mans victories in the 1920's and in 2003,
enjoyed a return to those glory years with a sixth win. When
Rolls-Royce bought Bentley Motors, they shut down production of the
8 and 4½ litre. Then they had to decide what to do with the Bentley
name as they couldn't afford to alienate their customer base and
not build a new Bentley. The question was what sort of car to
build; after several false starts, the Experimental Department
developed a prototype car based on an earlier 18hp experimental
chassis called the 'Peregrine' and a suitably tweaked 20/25hp
engine; this combination proved to be a winner.
W.O. Bentley, drove one of the prototype cars extensively on the
Continent and wrote back to the Derby factory giving the car
overall praise. Launched in 1933, the first of what would become
known as the 'Derby Bentleys' continued the marque's sporting
associations. The 'Silent Sportscar', as it was quickly dubbed, had
few peers and as a tireless long-distance tourer, it combining
traditional Rolls-Royce refinement with Bentley performance and
handling. Based on the contemporary Rolls-Royce 20/25, the 3½ litre
Bentley was slightly shorter in the wheelbase and employed a tuned,
twin-SU-carburettor-equipped version of the former's 3,669cc
overhead-valve six; an increase in bore size upped the capacity to
4,257cc in 1936. The 4¼ litre model offered more power while
retaining the well-proven chassis and servo-assisted brakes.
The previous owner, Peter Richardson, purchased the car on 13th
May 1968 and in the history file, over 72 documents, letters and
invoices can be viewed from the day Mr. Richardson acquired the car
until May 1973, just before the car was taken off the road.
In May 1983, the car was sent to Excel Engineering of Solihull
to be re-commissioned. It was collected from them on 8th December
1983 by the highly respected Healey Brother for a full bodywork
restoration and re- paint, completed in October 1985.
The car was then stored in 1986 where it remained until 2010.
Over the winter of 2009-10, the garage where the car was stored was
broken into and a few items were stolen from the car and damage was
done to the wiring. Aviva Insurance brought the car back to its
original superb condition costing over £20,000 including £700 worth
of new tyres fitted. In early 2015, the engine was removed,
stripped and the bottom end was sent to leading Rolls-Royce and
Bentley engineers, Rists of Nottingham, were they did a full
rebuild. While this was undertaken, the cylinder head was
pressure-tested, the carburettors, starter and dynamo were rebuilt
and the car was striped to bare metal and re-sprayed in two-tone
Black/Maroon. Most of the chrome was also re-plated and the
headlight reflectors re-silvered, all told, costing just shy of
£60,000. The condition now is superb with the bodywork and
drive-train in excellent condition throughout.
The car underwent an MoT test for the first time in many years
in August 2015 and since then, has covered about 350 very enjoyable
miles. With this being one of only 12 built with this style of
bodywork and with the very comprehensive history record, original
handbook and tools, this rare example can be used reliably and
often with confidence.
For sale by auction on Saturday 26 November 2016 with Historics at Brooklands, Brooklands Motor Racing Circuit, Weybridge, Surrey, Call 01753 639170