Lot 127: Bentley 3 ½ Litre All-Weather Tourer by Barker
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 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 ½ Litre with 90mph plus performance, quite remarkable for the day. Notably, this first of the Derby Bentleys was also the first to be marketed as the Silent Sports Car; such was its astonishing refinement. The 3 ½ Litre soon gained a reputation for pace and fine handling, combined with the elegance of hand built touring coachwork supplied by various leading coachbuilders in saloon, drophead coupe and touring guises; as such it found favour with many sporting owner-drivers. Few, however, risked the expensive 3 ½ Litre for competition although there were some 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. The 3½ Litre had only a three year production life, during which just 1,177 examples were manufactured. Chassis B169AE was delivered to Arthur Gibbs of Kingswood, Tunbridge Wells on the 10th of April 1934, directly from the coachbuilders Barkers who had fitted the car with its strikingly elegant all weather tourer drophead coachwork. This was without question one of the most versatile body styles fitted to the 3 ½ Litre chassis. As befitted such a stylish car, all body fittings were plated in silver, adding a highlight to the very fashionable pale grey coachwork with a contrasting green hide interior. A further detail is the delicate green coach line which complements the deep green interior leather trim and carpeting. Having been recently in the collection of a well-known enthusiast for two decades, and with the present owner for over 10 years, this magnificent Derby Bentley benefitted from a restoration to the highest standards throughout, some ten years ago, by Wildae Restorations Ltd . This majestic car is a wonderful example of what remains one of the most famous British marques most desirable pre war creations. It provides all the trimmings one normally associates with Bentley products with the added bonus of convertible motoring as and when required. In short this car represents the height of luxury among post-Vintage Thoroughbreds, and a wonderful opportunity to acquire what must remain one of the most beautiful examples of this classic British marque.
HISTORIC COLLECTORS MOTORCARS|
Coys, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PX
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