Launched in 1933, the first of what would become known as the ‘Derby Bentleys’ continued the marque’s sporting associations but in a manner even more refined than before. Even W O Bentley himself acknowledged that the 3.5-litre model was the finest ever to bear his name. Based on the contemporary Rolls-Royce 20/25hp, the 3.5-litre Bentley was slightly shorter in the wheelbase and employed a tuned (115bhp) twin-SU-carburettor version of the former’s overhead-valve six. Add to this already remarkable package an all-synchromesh four-speed gearbox and servo assisted brakes, and the result was a vehicle offering the driver effortless sports car performance in almost absolute silence.
‘The Silent Sports Car’, as it was quickly 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. Of the 2,442 manufactured, almost 50 percent were bodied by Park Ward in a limited number of styles. Most of the other great British coachbuilding firms offered designs, many of them unique, on the Derby Bentley chassis, one of the most admired being the James Young bodied examples.
This beautiful 1934 Derby Bentley finished in Royal Claret with deep red fluted hide upholstery, rosewood veneered woodwork and Wilton carpets, is a four seat, two door drophead with coachwork by James Young, who was one of the most highly acclaimed coach builders of the era. James Young only produced 16 of these dropheads on the 3.5-litre chassis, with this particular example being delivered new to Mr G Stead in the United Kingdom.
The current vendor, having purchased the car from Coys showrooms in the 1990s, has been the single owner to date. During his ownership of the last 24 years, B39BL has been subject to an extensive restoration at a cost of well over £50,000.
The work has been mainly carried out by one of the most highly regarded pre-war Bentley and Rolls-Royce specialists, Fiennes Restorations, and has included in the last three years both a complete brake and engine overhaul. During its current ownership B39BL has also been fitted with a high ratio rear axle, introduced while the rear axle was rebuilt, giving the fourth gear the equivalent to overdrive. The engine is still original to the chassis.
Supplied with an extensive service history, together with registration documents, road fund licenses, insurance documents, MOT’s covering most of the last quarter of a century and all of the Bentley’s relevant car data.
In addition, there is a detailed engine rebuild file, with hand-written documentation of work carried out day-by-day, together with a large pictorial record of the complete rebuild 24 years ago, and a large photograph of the car after leaving the factory in 1934.
Having been invited by Bentley Motors to assist with the launch of the Bentley Arnage at Le Mans with certificates to authenticate this, the car was also used for Harry Patch ( the last Tommy ), to ride in at the Bath and West Show, when he was 104. He stood in the car to deliver the eulogy before 104 British Legion standard bearers and was watched by a crowd of many thousands.
There are also photographs and references in published books that come with the car. The Bentley has enjoyed holidays abroad and still travels comfortably at 70 mph. turning heads wherever it goes and brings smiles to so many. The vendor informs us that the car is ready for extensive touring with the new owner.
Having been maintained to the highest degree, regardless of cost, with all invoices provided in a large selection of history files, this represents a fantastic opportunity to enter the Derby Bentley world in style. A reluctant sale and not to be missed.