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Lot 580: Bentley 3½-Litre Sports Saloon

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

Although Rolls-Royce's acquisition of Bentley Motors in 1931 robbed the latter of its independence, it did at least ensure the survival of the Bentley name. Launched in August 1933, the first of the 'Derby Bentleys', as they would come to be known, continued the marque's sporting associations but in a manner even more refined than before. 'The Silent Sports Car', as it was swiftly dubbed, had few peers as a tireless long-distance tourer, combining as it did traditional Rolls-Royce refinement with Bentley performance and handling. The Derby Bentley was, of course, an exclusively coachbuilt automobile and as befits its sporting nature was almost always fitted with owner-driver saloon or drophead coupé coachwork, the 'standard' designs being the work of Park Ward. Of the 2,442 examples manufactured (including the subsequent 4¼-Litre model) almost 50% were bodied by Park Ward. Founded in 1919, Park Ward had forged its not inconsiderable reputation bodying Bentleys, Rolls-Royces and other quality makes, and in 1933 received the ultimate 'vote of confidence' when Rolls-Royce bought a minority stake in the Willesden-based coachbuilder, taking full control six years later. Accompanying copy chassis cards show that 'B109CW' was supplied new to Bernard Rubin, the wealthy 'Bentley Boy' who had shared the famous Le Mans-winning 4½-Litre car, 'Old Mother Gun', with Woolf Barnato in 1928. Born in Australia, Rubin came to Britain with his family in 1908 and first raced in May '28 at Brooklands, finishing 6th in the Six Hours. Despite being injured in a racing accident in 1929 he continued his involvement with the sport, sponsoring the competition career of fellow 'Bentley Boy' Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin. Bernard Rubin died of tuberculosis on 27th June 1936, only 17 months after taking delivery of 'B109CW'. A matching numbers example, the Bentley benefits from past restoration by Antique Automobiles Ltd and remains in very original condition. The engine incorporates new pistons from Fiennes Restoration Ltd and the car also benefits from the provision of a stainless steel exhaust system. A complete leather-bound history file containing photographic documentation of the work is included in the sale. A lovely 'Derby' Bentley, elegantly bodied by one of the best of British coachbuilders, 'B109CW' comes complete with tool kit and is offered with the aforementioned documentation, sundry service invoices and UK V5 registration document for the number 'BLT 410'. In finest traditions of the marque, this car is equally at home being driven to the opera or competing in historic competitions such as the Mille Miglia Retrospective.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
Lot Number580
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price€63000
Hammer Price (inc premium)€72450
Condition rating
Registration number
Chassis numberB-109-CW
Engine numberB5BB
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors