After producing the 3½ Litre for several years, Rolls-Royce wanted a solution to the heavier bodies which were being installed on their chassis. As a result, they increased engine capacity to 4257cc or 4.25 liters. The larger version was initially offered as an option and became regular equipment in 1937.
To cope with the increased internal engine load, the white metal bearings were upgraded to the AC9 and AC7 alloy bearings from Halls with more oil grooves
Later cars in production got the Marles steering box and full steel bodies. In 1938, M-Seires cars were fitted with overdrive that could reach 100 mph at 4000 rpm. Only around 200 cars came with overdrive.
The 4¼ Litre was scheduled to be replaced by the Mark V, but the intervening war cancelled production.
Story by Richard Michael Owen
1936 Bentley 4¼ Litre Horsfield Tourer B-49-GP – sold for $104,500
Bentley 4 ¼ B 49 GP was delivered by Pass and Joyce to H.C. Bradley of Wolverhampton as a Park Ward Saloon, bearing registration number DRF700.Sometime in the 1950s the Park Ward saloon coachwork was replaced with the attractive Vanden Plas style tourer the car wears today. Produced by noted coachbuilders Horsfield of Halifax, the body is well made and skinned in aluminum, fitted with four razor-edge cycle fenders that complement the sporty character of the coachwork. Auction Source: The Amelia Island Auction 2015 by Bonhams
1937 Bentley 4¼-Litre Carlton Open Two-Seater – sold for $1,595,000 A bespoke, one-off 4¼-Litre. Unique bodywork, with numerous special-order items. Matching numbers, with original body, engine, and gearbox. Competed in the RAC Blackpool and J.C.C. Brooklands rallies in 1939. Restored by renowned Bentley specialist Dale Powers. Auction Source: 2014 Monterey by RM Auctions
1938 Bentley 4¼-Litre Thrupp & Maberly All-Weather Tourer B-137-LE – sold for $225,500
Today, B137LE retains its original bodywork, chassis, and engine, and it is a truly documented “numbers-matching” car, complete with a side-mounted Continental touring spare and finished in period-correct deep blue over black, with blue leather upholstery and walnut trim. Adding additional flair are the imposing headlamps, driving lamp, and accessory horn, as well as a nearly complete tool kit, providing all the necessities for spirited silent motoring. The car is pictured in all its glory on page 113 of the definitive Bentley volume, All The Pre-War Bentleys – As New, by Stanley Sedgwick, and on page 201 of Bentley: Fifty Years of the Marque by Johnnie Green. The older, correct restoration was recently cosmetically and mechanically freshened by the noted firm of David L. George Coachworks. Auction Source: 2013 Amelia Island by Rm Auctions
1939 Bentley 4¼ Litre Vanvooren Sunroof Coupe B-132-LS – sold for $330,000 Coachwork by Vanvooren in Paris. 4.25L inline six cylinder engine. Marchal headlamps and spot lamp. Custode windows and sliding sunroof. Custom ordered by Lucie Vogt in France. Imported to the United states in 1957. Same owner from 1960-2004. Right hand drive. Sympathetically restored. Excellent chrome. Clean and tidy undercarriage. Auction Source: 2012 Daytime Auction by Mecum
1938 Bentley 4¼-Litre Drophead Vanden Plas Coupé B199LE – sold for €120,750
The Bentley was purchased by the current vendors in 1991 from Porters of Kensington and is now finished in dark blue with grey interior (leather and carpets). Although in fine mechanical condition and regularly serviced by LMB, the car will be re-commissioned by these respected specialists of Antwerp, Belgium immediately prior to the sale at a cost of around €20,000. Work proposed includes repairing the hinge area and woodwork retaining the door hinges; refurbishing the paintwork, the largest area requiring attention being on the right wing near the bonnet; extensive tidying of the engine bay; and some minor improvements to interior fittings. It is expected that the invoice for this work will be on file by time of sale. Accompanying documentation includes a Porters of Kensington invoice, sundry invoices for work carried out including some from LMB, assorted correspondence, and various old registration and insurance documents. Bonhams recommend close inspection of this fine example of a Derby Bentley with desirable original open Vanden Plas coachwork. Auction Source: The Paris Sale 2012 by Bonhams
1936 Bentley 4¼-Litre James Young Drophead Coupé B74JD – sold for €82,200
Registered ‘DXK 2’, the Bentley was delivered in April 1937 to its first owner, the Hon R K S Stonor. The car had had only three owners since 1945, the last of whom acquired it in 1973, when it was purchased at auction by the current vendor in June 1992. Since acquisition ‘DXK 2’ has been exhibited at the Bentley Wildfowl & Motor Museum at Halland, East Sussex, and will require gentle re-commissioning before returning to the road after this lengthy period on museum display, the electrics in particular. A total of only 50,776 miles is currently displayed on the odometer, which, if genuine as seems likely, would explain the car’s remarkably original and unspoilt condition. Its engine running well, this rare Derby Bentley is offered with sundry invoices and Swansea V5 registration document. Auction Source: 2011 Goodwood Revival Sale by Bonhams
1937 Bentley 4¼ Litre Gurney Nutting Sedanca Coupé B70KT – did not sell for $220,000
This lovely Gurney Nutting Bentley is an excellent up-and-running example of an elegant Derby. The 30-year-old restoration is showing its age, but the car remains a usable tour car and, as a Full ClassicTM, the Derby Bentley is an ideal collector car or a great addition to any significant collection. Featured in Johnnie Green’s Bentley: Fifty Years of the Marque as well as Michael Ellman Brown’s Bentley: The Silent Sports Car, B70KT would be a sound foundation for a rewarding restoration project that promises the new owner a unique and beautiful coachbuilt Bentley.
* Matching-Numbers Bentley Auction Source: 2011 Pebble Beach Auctions by Gooding & Company
The car was delivered to its first owner, Sir Arthur Cory-Wright, on 16th June 1939 and is one of only nine with this style of Vanden Plas coachwork, which in this case is distinguished by a black radiator shell and the absence of running boards. ‘B105MX’ is featured in Mervyn Frankel and Ian Strang’s authoritative work, ‘Bentley: The 1938/1939 Overdrive Cars’ (page 183) and we are advised that The Society of Automotive Historians in Britain confirms that the Bentley was manufactured at Derby and that the chassis number is correct for the model year.
In 1979 the car was acquired by the present owner – an ex-racing driver at Goodwood, Le Mans and elsewhere, and a prominent collector – who commissioned the foremost specialist restorers to undertake a total restoration over a seven-year period. The original ash frame was replaced wherever necessary; pillars to the doors strengthened by a steel web; the electrics rewired; and a new aluminium cylinder head with unleaded-compatible hardened valve seats fitted to the engine.
‘B105MX’ is finished in the owner’s elegant two-tone livery of Smoke over Velvet Green, while the immaculate interior boasts red leather upholstery, cream carpeting, decorative walnut door cappings and veneered dashboard. The positioning of the mohair hood, well behind the rear seats, enables the stylish coachwork’s low lines to be retained when the hood is stowed away. The leather hood bag complements the upholstery, while other noteworthy features include a tail-mounted spare, ‘Town and Country’ horns, correct driving light and a useful lock to the petrol filler cap. During 2008 the car was meticulously prepared for the Louis Vuitton China Tour, a ten day event starting in Shanghai. Sadly, the event was cancelled but the car certainly benefitted from the preperations.
A supreme example of a Derby Bentley drophead coupé, superbly restored to the highest standards and presented in outstanding condition, ‘B105MX’ comes with a full file of history including a detailed workshop log, full inspection reports, all restorers’ receipts and UK Swansea V5 registration document.
Guaranteed by Bentley Motors on 15th September, 1938, chassis B125LE was dispatched to Switzerland to receive coachwork by Carrosserie Worblaufen of that city, in the Canton of Bern. The firm had been opened in 1929 by Fritz Ramseier, who had learnt his craft in a small workshop run by his father. After apprenticeships in France and with Gangloff in Geneva, Ramseier returned home and joined with his brothers Hans and Ernst in the new company. Early work was performed on Mercedes-Benz, Opel, Ford, Renault and Peugeot chassis.
Upgraded to the 1939-specification four-speed overdrive gearbox, this one-off Bentley is a dream to drive. The Derby Bentley has become known as “The Silent Sports Car” for its sophisticated deportment and excellent performance. This Bentley is both silent and sporting.
According to Rolls-Royce Foundation and Bentley Drivers Club archives, B155HM was ordered by Rootes Ltd., of Devonshire House, Piccadilly, W1 on 30 July, 1936 for stock. It was, however, redirected to the Birmingham agent, George Heath, for a retail customer, G.H. Downing. The chassis was dispatched on 11 November and delivered by road from Lille Hall to Thrupp & Maberly one day later. It was fitted with a four-seat closed four-door saloon body that was designated for “use in the UK on the Continent” and “for town and touring work.”
When the car arrived in Australia is not known, but it is presumed that it was fitted with its current alloy body of a Gurney Nutting design by Australian Roger Fry while in Cecil’s possession. Bentley Drivers Club records include comments from Rolls-Royce historian Tom Clarke, who said in 2010, “Roger and his son still operate in Roleystone near Perth, Western Australia. Really good coachbuilders. Roger emigrated to Australia in 1969 or so and has won many prizes with his coachwork.” Among the many awards the car won in Australia are a “Best Car of Show” and “Best Restoration” at the 1992 Australiam Federal Rally in Ballarat and a win in the Master Class of the 1995 Federal Concours of the Rolls-Royce Club of Australia. Presented in a striking colour combination, few cars are as well qualified for touring. The new owner will surely enjoy entering this Bentley in various club events for years to
Both the interior and exterior are in very presentable condition. The car appears to have been driven regularly yet benefitted from a favorable climate. B-1-LE still carries its original engine number T6BT.
For the enthusiast fascinated by beautiful and rare pre-war British automobiles, this undeniably elegant Bentley will be a great temptation. It is certain to attract attention at any Rolls-Royce or Bentley gathering and bring its new custodian pleasure in tours and events.