Rolls Royce built Bentleys in Derby between 1933 and 1940 and these are known as ‘Derby Bentleys’. Based on an experimental Rolls Royce project, the earlier cars featured the 3.5 litre engine fitted to the Rolls Royce 20/25 but with a higher compression ratio, sportier camshaft profile and two SU carburettors on a crossflow cylinder head. The engine produced 110 bhp allowing for a top speed of 90mph. The 3.5 litre variant of the Derby Bentley was produced until 1936 and in total less than 1,200 were made with this engine.
The chassis of these cars carried coachwork from a number of different independent coachbuilders in the UK and Europe, with some of the coachwork regarded as the most elegant of the period. One such coachbuilder, and also one of the most highly regarded, was J Gurney Nutting & Co Limited. Founded in 1918 as a new enterprise by a Croydon firm of builders and joiners of the same name by the senior partner Mr John Gurney Nutting.
Gurney Nutting was based in Croydon until a fire destroyed their premises in 1923 and they moved nearer their customers to the upmarket address of Elystan Street, off the Kings Road in Chelsea, London. Once in Chelsea Gurney Nutting established their reputation for creating beautifully executed cars with naturally balanced proportions. In 1924 Scotsman A F McNeil who had been with Curnard joined the firm as chief designer. This was a seminal moment for the company and McNeil’s designs were the greatest and most successful in Gurney Nutting’s history.
Gurney Nutting’s rise in prominence was helped by a budding Royal connection. This began in June 1926 when a 21 hp Lanchester chassis fitted with a Weymann body was delivered to the future King George VI and a few months later his younger brother ordered a Weymann body on a Bentley chassis. The car which really built their reputation for prominent customers was commissioned in 1928 for the style-setter of the time, the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII and later still the Duke of Windsor. He commissioned a Weymann body on a 4.5 litre Bentley which became known as the ‘Prince of Wales’ body style that went on to become a best seller.
In 1931 Gurney Nutting built the body for Malcolm Campbell’s Blue Bird world speed record car. The 1930s were the firm’s greatest years, bodies were built to order on other chassis but mostly these were the years of the Rolls Royce and Bentley saloons, Coupés de ville and Sedancas de ville. Working closely in conjunction with H R Owen of Berkeley Street, W1, Gurney Nutting built arguably their most elegant Coupé, the Owen Sedanca.
Chassis card details from the Rolls Royce Enthusiast Club indicate the car we have for sale here was formed by matching the Owen Sedanca body from chassis B99BN manufactured in 1934, with chassis B130FB which originally had Rippon Bros Saloon coachwork and was manufactured in 1935. Brought by the current owner from the highly regarded Rolls Royce and Bentley dealer P&A Wood in 2007. It comes complete with the chassis card details and looks splendid finished in light Green with complementary cream hide interior. This is a fabulous example of an extremely rare motorcar that would be welcome at many great events and is an opportunity not to be missed.