The Pebble Beach Award Winning
1935 Bentley 3 1/2 Liter 'Aerodynamic' Saloon
Coachwork by Rippon Brothers
Chassis no. B103CW
Launched in 1933, the first of what would become know as the Derby Bentleys continued the marques sporting associations but in a manner even more refined than before. Even W.O. Bentley himself acknowledged that the 3.5-Liter model was the finest ever to bear his name. Based on the contemporary Rolls-Royce 20/25hp, the 3.5-Liter Bentley was slightly shorter in the wheelbase and employed a tuned (115bhp) twin-SU-carburetor version of the formers 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 sportscar performance in almost absolute silence. 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. Of the 2,442 manufactured (including the subsequent 4.25-Liter model) almost 50% 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.
Delivered to first owner, one Terence Byron, in the summer of 1935, B103CW wears striking coachwork in the then popular aerodynamic style by Rippon Brothers of Huddersfield, Yorkshire. Britains oldest coachbuilder and without question one of its finest, Rippon could trace its origins back to the middle of the 16th Century and in pre-war days was ranked alongside the likes of Barker, Hooper, H.J. Mulliner and Park Ward. Needless to say, Rippon products were necessarily expensive and only to be found on the very best chassis, those of Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Daimler and Delage predominating during the 1930s.
B103CW is one of two bodied in this style by Rippon, one of which featured on its stand at the 1935 Motor Show at Olympia, London, and is believed to be the sole surviving example. The car surfaced years ago and has since been carefully restored by the vendor. We are advised that all components received attention during the course of this ground upwards renovation, which included fitting a new cylinder head and stainless-steel exhaust system. Meticulous attention was paid to originality, including the fitting of a correct heater and radio, the latter being the same type as pictured in a 3½ owned by Bentley Boy Wolf Barnato, all the stations marked being those of cities in Britain. The car also has a complete and correct tool set fitted in the trunk lid, and the same fitted luggage as supplied and pictured in the literature.
B103CW was the subject of an article on Streamline Cars written and published in The Motor magazine in 1935. It is also pictured, as built, in Bentley - The Silent Sportscar by Michael Ellman-Brown (page 286) and then again in Bentley Beauty by Neill Fraser and Thomas Knapek (pages 296, 297) in its current restored state.