16th Mar, 2022 13:00

Imperial War Museum, Duxford

Lot 45

1937 Bentley 4.25 Litre Sports Saloon
Coachwork by Thrupp & Maberly

Sold for £48,375

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: ELK 139
Chassis No: B168 KT
MOT: Exempt

  • Purchased by Mr & Mrs Joseph Carter Wood of the brewing dynasty as a present for their newly married daughter Mrs Helen Macan and kept by the latter until her death in 1964
  • Subsequently willed to Glory Evelyn Howard alongside a mink coat and later owned by former VSCC Chairman Kenneth Neve OBE before migrating to America in the mid 1980s
  • Treated to a thorough engine overhaul and high 'overdrive' ratio back axle circa 40,000 miles ago and more recently fitted with a new wiring loom and clutch etc
  • Part of a small private collection since 2018 and said to have seen 'regular usage' and to 'drive well'

Unveiled to great acclaim at the August 1933 Ascot Races, the Derby Bentley was underpinned by a ‘double dropped’ chassis featuring all-round semi-elliptic suspension and four-wheel drum brakes. Powered by a more potent version of its Rolls-Royce 20/25 sibling’s 3669cc OHV straight-six engine allied to four-speed manual transmission, the newcomer was soon christened the ‘Silent Sportscar’. Responding to increased competition from the likes of Alvis and Lagonda, Bentley gave its customers the option of a larger 4257cc engine during the 1936 season. Priced at £50, a comparatively modest sum compared to the cost of a basic chassis, the new unit proved so popular that the smaller capacity powerplant was soon dropped. Nicely balanced to begin with, the Derby Bentley chassis proved more than capable of handling the extra power and torque. Just 105 of the 1,241 4¼ Litre cars produced were clothed by the London coachbuilder Thrupp & Maberly whose work was particularly popular with the Mayfair-based dealership Jack Barclay Ltd.

Bodied by Thrupp & Maberly as a four-door, four-light Sports Saloon, chassis B168KT was supplied new via Jack Barclay Ltd and issued with the London registration number plate ‘ELK 139’ on December 10th 1937. Purchased by Mr & Mrs Joseph Carter Wood of the brewing dynasty as a present for their newly married daughter Mrs Helen Macan, the Bentley was deemed better suited to the roads around her marital home in Dalston, Cumbria than its ‘Low Chassis’ Invicta S-Type predecessor. Decidedly generous parents, they also gifted their child a Ford Ten for more everyday usage. Unfortunately, Mr & Mrs Carter Wood both died in 1939 and it may well have been for sentimental reasons that Mrs Helen Macan kept the 4¼ Litre until her own passing twenty-five years later. Willed to an aristocratic friend - Mrs Glory Evelyn Howard (nee Rollo) - alongside a mink coat, the Sports Saloon relocated to Johnby Hall near Penrith, Cumbria.

Sold to former VSCC President Chairman and RAC Historic Car Committee member Kenneth Neve OBE in 1973, the Bentley changed hands several times thereafter before migrating to America the following decade. Reportedly entrusted to Bob Jefferson of Classic Sports in Brookfield, Massachusetts during the late 1980s, the 4¼ Litre is understood to have received a thorough engine overhaul and to have been fitted with a higher, ‘overdrive’ rear axle ratio. Acquired by its previous keeper, Robert Small of Maine, in 1996, the Sports Saloon would remain with him for the next twenty-one years during which time it was treated to a bare metal repaint in the current Burgundy over Black colour scheme. The delightfully patinated interior is believed to be original and the car is thought to have covered some 40,000 miles since its mechanical refresh. Entering the current ownership in 2018, the past four years have seen the Bentley benefit from a new clutch and rewiring not to mention routine servicing and maintenance work. Described by the seller as being in ‘very good overall’ condition with regards to its engine, gearbox, electrical equipment, bodywork and paintwork, he goes on to sum-up ‘ELK 139’ as: ‘A very stylish, good-looking 4¼ Litre which has been in regular use in recent years and drives well’. Offered for sale with original buff logbook, RREC copy build records, original buff logbook (plus two continuation ones), copy Jack Barclay purchase order, current V5C Registration Document and sundry invoices.

For more information, please contact:
Stewart Parker
01925 210035


Auction: Imperial War Museum, Duxford, 16th Mar, 2022

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Imperial War Museum
CB22 4QR

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Tuesday 15th March 2022 from 12pm to 6pm
Wednesday 16th March 2022 from 9am

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