Tue, 21st Feb 2006 0:00

The Centaur

  Lot 26
Lot 26 - 1934 Bentley 3.5 Litre Three-Position Drophead Coupe

1934 Bentley 3.5 Litre Three-Position Drophead Coupe

Sold for £23,625

(including buyers premium)

Lot details
Registration No: UN-REG
Chassis No: B120AH
Mot Expiry: None

At the dawn of the 1930s with the reverberations of 'Black Friday' (29/10/1929) being felt worldwide, competition between carmakers grew increasingly desperate. Thus, while WO Bentley sought to refine his 8 litre into the ultimate luxury carriage, Rolls-Royce responded by dabbling with a sports car concept. Their concerns as to the branding of 'Peregrine' (as the project was labelled internally) were alleviated by Bentley's collapse in 1931. Outflanking rivals D. Napier & Son, they acquired Bentley wholesale (including WO's services) for £125,257. With a department brief that "the new car must be as unlike the Rolls-Royce models as possible" Derby engineers set about preparing 'Peregrine' for flight. Built on a 'double-dropped' chassis carrying all round semi-elliptic leaf sprung suspension and assisted drum brakes, the new car used a tuned version of the Rolls-Royce 20/25's 3,669cc ohv straight-six. Boasting twin SU carburettors, a wilder cam, strengthened con-rods and a higher compression ratio, this revamped unit developed around 120bhp (a fifty percent improvement) without compromising on refinement. Equipped with the 20/25's four-speed manual gearbox, high-geared worm and nut steering and hydraulic dampers, the resultant 'Silent Sportscar' - as the Bentley 3.5 litre soon became known - was unveiled during the August 1933 Ascot Races.
Finished in green with black swage moulding and maroon leather upholstery, this particular 'matching numbers' example carries three-position drophead coupe coachwork by an unknown supplier (its Thomson & Taylor coachplate is considered erroneous). According to Bernard L King's book 'The Derby Built Bentleys' chassis B-120-AH was originally ordered as a Park Ward Saloon (though, the same source lists the car as currently being a Thrupp & Maberly Drophead Coupe). Whereas, Michael Ellman-Brown's tome 'The Silent Sports Car' suggests that it began life as a Thrupp & Maberly Coupe (but stresses that the relevant T&M records are incomplete). Whoever is responsible for its versatile two-door body seems to have done an admirable job, the tri-hinged doors showing no discernable drop and enjoying particularly deep recesses etc. First owned by Herman Rawlinson Esq, the Derby is reputed to have passed through the hands of Adams & Oliver in the 1960s before disappearing to America. Re-imported by the vendor, it is missing a front bumper and rear window but otherwise appears to be substantially complete if a little cosmetically challenged. Running and driving upon a recent inspection, it will require further recommissioning prior to road use. Benefiting from fresh tyres, this potentially rewarding project has yet to be re-registered in the UK. However, it is accompanied by the relevant import documentation.

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