During the late 1920’s and early 1930’s Bentley ran into grave financial trouble and by 1931 Rolls-Royce had stepped in and bought the assets and goodwill of the defunct company and formed a new one, Bentley Motors (1931) Ltd. Rolls-Royce had considered the Bentley marque to be a growing threat to their future success, but following their purchase decided to continue the Bentley name, albeit under their own stewardship, taking the company in an entirely new direction with the creation of the “Silent Sports Car” or Derby Bentley. In 1933 the new Bentley 3 ½ Litre model was released and was an instant success. The combination of effortless power and style met with almost universal praise. It was powered by a developed twin carburettor version of Rolls-Royces own 20/25 model and was installed in a low 126 inch wheelbase chassis that basically remained unaltered until the cessation of production in 1939 due to the outbreak of hostilities. Synchromesh was present on third and fourth gears and the Derby’s were fitted with a cross flow cylinder head and superb servo assisted brakes, encapsulating all of the perfection of Rolls-Royce engineering in this small sporting Bentley.
Chassis No B73FC which we are currently offering for sale is one of approximately one hundred 3 ½ Litre Bentleys bodied with a “standard” drophead coupe body by Park Ward. It should be noted that a number of different varieties of coachwork encompass the term “standard” drophead coupe by Park Ward, with different wing lines and other features used to great effect by the design team at Willesden. This particular car being an FC Series was one of the last built on the 3 ½ Litre chassis and was completed in May 1936 to the order of Mr P.W.Mitchell of Bristol, finished in black with a fawn leather interior. It remained in Mr Mitchells ownership until 1966 whereupon it was inherited by his nephew.
In 1969 it was sold for the first time to Richard Needham of Gormal in Dudely who also enjoyed a long period of ownership, lasting over twenty eight years. However Mr Needham seldom used B73FC, accumulating only around 1,500 miles during his time with the car. After two years storage it was acquired in 1999 by its third owner, Mr Neill Fraser who is one of the leading global authorities on Derby Bentleys. What Mr Fraser doesn’t know about the Silent Sports car, probably isn’t worth knowing. His book Bentley Beauty is one of the finest works on the subject of Derby Bentleys and comes highly recommended, with B73FC featuring on page seven and also in the chapter dedicated to Park Ward bodied cars.
Following his acquisition of the car, Mr Fraser set about significant improvements, totally around £90,000 worth of work, with invoices in the cars history file documenting this process. The works instructed included but were not limited to an engine overhaul, a chassis overhaul, woodwork restoration, a full re-trim including a new hood and also coachwork restoration and repainting in metallic green. It was then subsequently used on a number of rallies across Europe, all in trouble free fashion.
Frank Dale & Stepsons then supplied the car to the present owner in March 2013, who has maintained it beautifully ever since. The attractive coachwork has a waistline that is dropped towards the rear to blend in with the base of the hood and the hood irons when it is in the lowered position. The boot still has its original fitted suitcases, the smaller of which can be carried on the external luggage rack above the boot. This beautifully presented four owner motor car has yet to surpass 100,000 miles in total and is in lovely order throughout.
Four speed manual gearbox, 6 cylinder in-line engine, 3.5 litres displacement, 3669cc capacity. Servo-assisted brakes.