1934 Bentley 3½-Litre Sports Saloon Coachwork by Park Ward Ltd Registration no. BGF 68 Chassis no. B87BL Engine no. Y2BC
'... the ability to traverse the rapidly crowding roads of Great Britain in less time, and with less, effort were points strong in its favour.' Johnny Green on the 3½-Litre, Bentley, 50 Years of the Marque. 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 at Ascot 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. Even W O Bentley himself acknowledged that the 3½-Litre model was the finest ever to bear his name. Based on the contemporary Rolls-Royce 20/25hp, the 3½-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 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 befitted 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, that offered here being one of them. Founded in 1919, Park Ward had 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. Chassis number 'B87BL' was originally supplied to Colonel Hugh Campbell DSO, OBE, a distinguished officer who was perhaps the only man to serve in all three armed services in both World Wars. The current owner has sympathetically restored the car over the past 25 years. Work has included a bare metal re-spray; part re-trim including new headlining, rugs and carpets; engine overhauled (including re-sleeved cylinders) and 'fast road' tuned by Rolls-Royce/Bentley engineer, John Manning; carburettors overhauled; dynamo rewound; electrics rewired (with correct cotton insulation); new flooring; new stainless steel exhaust (cut-out working); and part re-chrome. Winner of the 'Best Pre-War Tourer' category at the Hurlingham Club Concours D'Elegance in 2007, this Mille Miglia-eligible Derby Bentley is offered with sundry restoration invoices, original logbook, current road fund licence, MoT to December 2012 and Swansea V5 document. Ill health forces this reluctant sale.