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Lot 245: 1934 Bentley 3½ Litre Open Tourer by Oxburrow and Fuller

Sports, Touring, Historic Road and Racing Cars, Coys (30 April 2006)

The first product of the 1931 Rolls-Royce take-over of Bentley, the 3 ½ 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 cross flow cylinder head and camshaft, twin SU carburetors, 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 ½ 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 ½ Litre soon gained a reputation for pace and fine handling combined with the elegance of hand built coachwork supplied by various leading coachbuilders in saloon, drophead coupe and touring guises; as such it found favor with many owner drivers. Few, however, used the 3 ½ 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 ½ Litre's three year production life, including adjustable shock absorbers in 1935. Production ended the following year after 1,177 examples had been manufactured. B178 CR was originally ordered by Mr. E.K. Cole the founder of the EKCO electrical company and must have provided flamboyant transport for Mr. Cole in the years leading up to the War. It carries the most attractive Oxborrow and Fuller tourer coachwork which was so popular at the time and remains among the most desirable of coachwork carried by Derby Bentleys today. With its concealed windows and discreet weather equipment it was an immaculate and successful innovative design which must have appealed to the first owner, himself a captain of industry.The previous owner who has owned B178 CR for over 20 years acquired the car before he had passed his driving test and in his early ownership he used it with L-plates! Having passed his test, B 178 CR was pressed into more regular service on numerous rallies both at home and abroad winning several trophies in the process.Mechanically the car underwent an engine rebuild by the respected specialists with the same company carrying out a chassis overhaul. The car has recently undergone a sympathetic restoration and has been strikingly finished in Magnolia over Masons Black. The interior has been re-trimmed in black leather piped in white and the woodwork has been restored to a black finish. A highly practical Laycock de Normanville overdrive has also been fitted and the car still retains its original town and country exhaust which is still in operating order. This most attractive Bentley remains a most delightful and desirable representative of this eternally desirable model.

Lot Details
Auction Sports, Touring, Historic Road and Racing Cars
Coys, Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit
Lot Number245
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£63784
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating
Registration numberCHK 3
Chassis numberB 178 CR
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors