Vintage and Prestige are proud to offer this 1937 Derby Bentley 4 ¼ Drophead Coupe by H J Mulliner For Sale.
Registration no: CVB 702
Chassis no: B79KU
Engine no: M2BA
Although Rolls-Royce's acquisition of Bentley Motors in 1931 had robbed the latter of its independence, it did at least ensure the survival of the Bentley name. 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 3½-Litre model was the finest ever to bear his name.
Based on the contemporary Rolls-Royce 20/25, the 3½-Litre Bentley was slightly shorter in the wheelbase at 10' 6" and employed a tuned (115bhp), twin-SU-carburettor version of the former's 3,669cc overhead-valve six-cylinder engine. 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 high 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.
By the end of the 1930s the 'Derby' Bentley, introduced towards the beginning of that decade following the firm's take-over by Rolls-Royce, had undergone a number of significant developments, not the least of which was an increase in bore size in 1936 that upped the capacity to 4,257cc, a move that coincided with the adoption of superior Hall's Metal bearings.
This new engine was shared with the equivalent Rolls-Royce - the 25/30hp - and as had been the case with the preceding 3½-Litre model, enjoyed a superior specification in Bentley form, boasting twin SU carburettors, raised compression ratio and a more 'sporting' camshaft. Thus the new 4¼-Litre model offered more power than before while retaining the well-proven chassis with its faultless gear-change and servo-assisted brakes.
One of the premier chassis of its day, the Derby Bentley naturally attracted the attention of distinguished coachbuilders, and this example carries handsome drophead coupé coachwork by London-based H J Mulliner, a company known for an elegant lightness of line in their creations, which is apparent in this case.
Founded in 1900, H J Mulliner was involved with makes of distinction from its earliest days, bodying an early Silver Ghost chassis for C S Rolls before going on to establish itself in the front rank of British coachbuilders by the start of the 1920s. H J Mulliner must have been particularly pleased with its work on 'B79KU', for the car was chosen for display on their stand at the 1937 London Motor Show.
Finished in black with beige leather interior, the Bentley boasted a concealed convertible hood, and was equipped with a spare wheel partially recessed beneath a cover in the boot lid. Registered 'CVB 702', the car was delivered to its first owner, one S F Ely, towards the end of 1937.
The Bentley subsequently made its way to the USA, and on 4th May 1975 was purchased from Roy Carver, the Rolls-Royce distributor in Newport Beach, California by Jon P Wagner, National Director of the Rolls-Royce Owners' Club. Accompanying documentation shows that Mr Wagner had the car restored by Art Johnson of San Diego with a 'new wood frame', while its aluminium body was said to be 'as new'. Undertaken between 1979 and 1980, the restoration cost $26,000, a not inconsiderable amount in those days.
Already the owner of a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and a Gurney Nutting-bodied 20/25 drophead coupé built especially for Prince Ali Khan, Jon Wagner was evidently very fond of his Bentley, actively participating with it in RROC events and writing glowingly of its performance in a 1983 RROC (San Diego region) newsletter. He owned the car until 2002 (a period of 27 years) and thereafter it entered the private collection of Neil Huffman. A Louisville, Kentucky car dealer, Huffman showed 'B79KU' at the Amelia Island Concours d'Élégance. The car was subsequently acquired from Mr Huffman's estate by the next owner.
This beautiful car was never intended for sale today; its late, retired owner should have been enjoying it on the highways and byways of Britain and Europe. Unfortunately, fate had different plans, for in July 2015 the owner died suddenly and unexpectedly. He had bought this rare Bentley (with his wife's reluctant approval) for his birthday in October 2010, and with the assistance of the W O Bentley Memorial Foundation was able to reinstate the original registration, 'CVB 702'.
The owner was enormously passionate about his Bentley and had it lovingly restored, working closely with the skilled craftsmen at Alpine Eagle. Works carried out include a complete rewire (using correct materials); a suspension overhaul and installation of new spring gaiters; refinishing of the interior wood cappings; and the fitting of a Tim Payne electric overdrive. Meticulous records of all works have been kept, and the car also comes with a V5C document and current MoT.
During its time with the current owner, this Bentley has ventured out onto the Continent, attended the 24 Heures du Mans, and was used to chauffeur his youngest daughter to her wedding in 2014. It was even invited to be displayed at Salon Privé in 2013. Above all else, this historic, wonderfully restored and well maintained Bentley was loved deeply by the owner, who intended to enjoy it with his family for many years to come. It is with great sadness that the children offer for sale this part of their family's history, with the hope and expectation that it will find an equally appreciative and passionate new owner.
In our showroom and ready for viewing.
Office 01375 379719
Richard Biddulph 07967 260673
Christoff Cowens 07772188037
We accept Credit/Debit Cards.
Part Exchange welcome.
Weekend & evening viewings OK.
Viewings by appointment :
9 Globe Industrial Estate,
Grays, Essex, RM17 6ST