1935 Bentley 3 ½ Litre Drop Head Coupe by Park Ward (1954)




The first product of the 1931 Rolls-Royce take-over of Bentley, the 3 1/2 Litre was introduced in 1933 and was in essence a sporting version of the Rolls-Royce 20/25. As such, it used the shorter chassis of the stillborn ‘smaller’ Rolls-Royce, code-named Peregrine, allied to a more powerful version of the 20/25’s six cylinder engine with new crossflow cylinder head and camshaft, twin SU carburettors, twin fuel pumps and single coil ignition. Mated to a four-speed transmission with synchromesh and a hypoid bevel rear axle, the latter a first on a Rolls-Royce produced car, the 105bhp 3,699cc engine endowed the 3 1/2 Litre with 90mph plus performance. Notably, this first of the Derby Bentleys was also the first to be marketed as ‘The Silent Sports Car’, such was its considerable refinement.

The 3 1/2 Litre soon gained a reputation for pace and fine handling combined with the elegance of handbuilt coachwork supplied by various leading coachbuilders in saloon, drophead coupé and touring guises; as such it found favour with many owner drivers. Few, however, used the 3 1/2 Litre for competition although notable results include Eddie Hall’s hat trick of second places in the Ulster TT. Its separate chassis, complete with centralised lubrication system, employed leaf spring suspension and hydraulic shock absorbers front and rear while the brakes were power-assisted by Rolls-Royce’s gearbox-driven mechanical servo.  Detail modifications were introduced during the 3 1/2 Litre’s three year production life, including adjustable shock absorbers in 1935. Production ended the following year after 1,177 examples had been manufactured.

This car, chassis B134DG was sold new to the Unwin family of Billinghurst, Sussex on the 4th May 1935. The car remained in the Unwin’s ownership throughout the Second World War until it was eventually sold to a Mr. Shandris of West London in 1945. After 5 years it subsequently passed to a Mr. Furlong Esq. of 149 Harley Street in London. The car remained in London and was purchased by a Mr. A Fairhead on Montague Square in 1954. The car was shipped out to the United States where it remained in the ownership of Mr. Nebel Thomas.

B134DG was repatriated back to the United Kingdom in 1988 into the ownership of Mr. Terence Golder, a long standing member of the Bentley Drivers Club in Berkshire. He sold the car to its current owner.

It is rare to find pre-war cars of any make which have consistently long periods of ownership and retain all of their original major components and coachwork, but B134DG is one such example.

A remarkably strong and authentic car in every respect, this powerful pre-war touring drophead from one of Britain’s greates manufacturers has recently benefitted from substantive restoration works, both cosmetic and mechanical, and presents in wonderful order throughout.

A charming and special British pre-war great.

This car is going under the hammer at Coys forthcoming Auction – at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire on Saturday 26th April 2014. Please contact the auction department for more details on 00442086147888

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  • Mileage: 123
  • Year: 1954
  • Doors: 2
  • Body type: Coupe
  • Transmission type: Manual
  • Fuel type: Petrol
  • Colour: Blue

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