Here we have a genuine pre-war Bentley, not a post-war Mk VI conversion, but a legendary ‘Derby’ Bentley, so called because it was the first model to be manufactured under RR ownership at their factory in Derby, following their acquisition of the business from the famous W.O.Bentley. They had a considerably more powerful engine than the Rolls Royce and an excellent chassis. Add to this an all-syncromesh four-speed gearbox and servo-assisted brakes. The Derby Bentley acquired the benefits of the quality of engineering of RR with the Sporting Heritage of the Bentley.
It was marketed as ‘The Silent Sportscar’ and they were delivered to a coachbuilder of the customer’s choice. It is widely accepted that the 1930’s was the high point of the Coachbuilder’s art, when the most legendary sporting bodies with sweeping rakish lines were created. Derby Bentleys exhibit some of the finest examples, with the more sporting and less formal Bentley Radiator allowing the designers to develop flowing lines, often of unsurpassed beauty.
This unusual car is no exception, having been originally commissioned by a C.E.Sharp in July, 1935 with a rare (one of only 7 made) Streamlined, four door, four seat Park Ward body, so recorded Bernard L King in his excellent Book on the Derby Bentley. However Ray Roberts in his book on Bentley Specials quotes the factory build sheets, which states the body fitted was a Drophead Coupe with rear-mounted spare wheel. Whichever, the body obviously was eventually broken up and the present lightweight, four seat touring one installed, in or around 1955 in the Channel Islands it is reputed.
Originally fitted with cycle-type wings, the current body now incorporates 1930’s style, integrated running boards flowing into the front and rear contoured wings. Spec also includes a small nearside entrance door, P100 Lucas King of the Road headlights, rear-mounted spare wheel. Luggage space with hinged walnut inlaid lid and a mohair hood with fitted glass window, and polished wood frame made by Classic Restorations (Scotland) according to an invoice on file. The hood is of a 3-stage design, closed, open or half open in a stylish DeVille position. It comes with a full, tonneau cover for when the hood is folded or detached. The windscreen also hinges forward for true wind-in-the-hair motoring. The interior features black leather seats which are nicely patinated.
The previous keeper has been to Europe with it 4 to 5 times to Old Timer Events, mainly in Germany and said it never gave him a moments notice of any issues.
During his 7 year custodianship he has had various jobs done to it, bills in History Folder which also includes the original build sheets and all sorts of invoices going back to the Sixties.
Previous owners have included Ft.Lt. A.O.Dickinson, Capt. H Ross (R.A) Squadron Leader Vince Butler. The Services have been notably present when the ownership of this Bentley car is discussed, the marque often finds favour with them.
In the 1930s, Bentley’s Derby factory supplied only chassis, without bodies, and customers for these refined, fast and enormously desirable cars would then select and turn to one of the many coachbuilders to design and construct a body for them to meet their tastes and requirements.
These first Rolls Bentleys were far different from the vintage Bentleys or the smaller horsepower Rolls Royce. Some 1,191 3 1/2 litre chassis were built between 1933 and 1936, and some 72% still survive, remarkable achievement for cars that had to live through World War II. However handbuilt open top styles, like this one, are a much rarer sight on the roads today, and are therefore of greater appeal to collectors.
The current V5 Logbook is in the Historic category and correctly quotes the body as a Tourer, hence qualifies for worldwide export.
Pre 1937 so car is eligible for prestigious VSCC Membership and events.
Vehicle located in Lytham St Annes in Lancashire, transport arranged at £1 pr/mile (one way)