This late, M-series, overdrive-equipped '4¼' 'Derby' Bentley was supplied new on 14th April 1939 via Pass & Joyce Ltd to Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd for the use of Mr Edwin McAlpine, then living at Nutfield, near Redhill, Surrey. Handsomely finished in fawn over black, chassis number 'B148MR' carries owner-driver coachwork in 'High Vision' style by H J Mulliner featuring the distinctive glazed roof panels and deep side windows that give the model its name. In 1941 the McAlpine family moved to Benhams, Fawley, near Henley-on-Thames, taking with them the company chauffeur, a Mr Sloper. Later Lord McAlpine of Moffat, Edwin used 'FLY 333' throughout the war, covering around 160,000 miles visiting construction projects, driven by Sloper.
In 1947 the McAlpines sold the Bentley to an unknown buyer, its next recorded owner being Charles Thorpe Kilian of Leatherhead, Surrey, who acquired the car in 1957. 'FLY 333' next changed hands in November 1960, passing to David Pearce Mico of Hurtwood House, Winterfield Heath, Surrey. During Mr Mico's ownership Jack Barclay carried out some refurbishment, including the installation of new springs and rear axle. It is also believed that the car received a new cylinder head. From 1971 to 1978 'FLY 333' was in storage and not used.
In February 1978 the Bentley was sold to Jack Stockford Huggins of Yarnton, Oxfordshire, who it seems was the proprietor of Hartford Motors in Oxford. On 28th June 1980 'FLY 333' returned to the McAlpine family, bought by Edwin's eldest son William (Bill), living at Fawley Hill, Fawley, Henley-on-Thames. Within a year or two, substantial mechanical work was undertaken by Graham Ashley-Carter (later proprietor of Hofmann's of Henley) including a complete engine rebuild (detailed invoice on file). In June 1981, Ro-Ben of South Stoke, Goring replaced much of the wooden body frame at the rear, building new framework around the wheelarches and under the seats, mountings for the boot and a new floor pan and seat pan base. Following the work's completion, 'FLY 333' took its place in Bill McAlpine's celebrated Rolls-Royce and Bentley collection, kept in a heated museum at Fawley Hill. The car was occasionally used by the family or loaned for weddings, covering relatively few miles.
In October 2003, on the retirement of the museum's curator, Russell Williams, Bill McAlpine decided to sell most of the cars via Bonhams at our Olympia sale held on 1st December of that year. It is reasonable to suppose that the car's total mileage at that date was around 186,000. Lot 1051, the Bentley was bought at that sale by the current owner, a former Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club.
Between December 2003 and November 2007 the Bentley was maintained exclusively by Hofmann's of Henley with no expense spared, there being bills on file for this period totalling in excess of £35,000. Major works carried out during this period include a complete rewire using modern materials of authentic appearance, fitting flashing indicators, converting the valve seats to accept unleaded fuel, fitting a stainless steel exhaust system (rear part only) and overhauling the fuel pumps, gearbox, brake servo, dynamo and rear axle/differential. A little over 5,500 miles were covered during this four-year period, the recorded total rising from 186,883 to 192,465.
Since June 2008, 'FLY 333' has been maintained by Priory Vintage Car Company of Watlington, Oxfordshire, there being associated bills on file totalling over £6,000 including one for overhauling the starter motor in April 2011. The car's most recent visit to Priory was in November 2012 (at 197,273 miles) for pre-MoT inspection and testing. Offered with MoT to November 2013 and Swansea V5C document, this mechanically very well maintained but otherwise original and un-restored Mulliner-bodied 'Derby' Bentley represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire an example of this rare and handsome model.