· Crafted for Brooklands personality Hugh Hunter
· Competed in the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally
· Later with speed legend Donald Campbell
· Fitted with overdrive, suitable for long distance touring
· Concours winning restoration in original livery
· Being offered for sale collaboratively with Fiskens
During the late 1920s and early 1930s 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 3.5 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 Derbys 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. Fitting of individual coachwork by approved body builders continued in true Rolls-Royce fashion giving potential buyers a great deal of choice in the look of their new motorcar. 1936 saw further improvements with the introduction of the 4.25 Litre model when production of the 3.5 Litre unit ceased.
One of the most elegant and stylish closed cars produced on the 4 ¼ Litre model was Chassis No B11HM, a fixed head Coupé bodied by Vanden Plas to the precise specifications of famous Brooklands racer Hugh Curling Hunter. A concours winner both in period and as restored, it competed in the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally.
Hugh Hunter was a prolific racer, famous for campaigning his magnificent ex-Mille Miglia Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Spyder at Brooklands and further afield (reputedly but with some uncertainty the winning car in 1938 for Biondetti with mechanic Aldo Stefani). He also raced a single-seater supercharged Alta custom bodied by Sinbad Milledge of R.R. Jackson, earning a coveted Brooklands 120 m.p.h. badge, and raced the Embiricos Bentley at Le Mans in 1950 with Soltan Hay. The family’s successful Sun Engraving business helped lubricate these exploits – remembered as a great character, kind and generous, Hunter’s racing memorabilia is preserved on display at Brooklands to this day.
Hunter worked closely with Vanden Plas to finalize the exquisite coachwork still adorning the body today. With future concours competition in mind, a series of detail drawings were produced before settling on the final design - striking black and terracotta coachwork with a matching terracotta and black interior, close coupled seating, low roofline, sunroof and concealed spare. No detail was spared - she even featured a third internal windscreen wiper for internal demisting.
It was completed to Design No 1386 by Vanden Plas, with a solitary second car built to the same design in 1937 on Chassis No B128KT. Taking delivery in late 1936, Chassis No B11HM was registered EMY 4 in sequence with Hunter’s other transport including the ex-Mille Miglia Alfa Romeo 2.9 (JML 1),a Fiat Topolino (DXV 2), and a Frazer Nash BMW (DXV 3). Known affectionately as “Emmy,” she appeared in the Monte Carlo rally of January 1937, then toured home through Cannes, St.Moritz and Paris. It was a prize winner shown by Hunter in period concours in Eastbourne and Ramsgate and survives with photography and even colour cine-film from Hunter’s ownership.
Yet as if the Hunter connection were not enough, when EMY 4 was finally sold post-war it went in 1949 to famed world land and water speed record holder Donald Campbell. A friend of Hunter’s and son of record breaker Malcolm Campbell, Donald continued the line of Bluebird machines and in 1964 set both the land speed record at 403.1mph in Bluebird CN7 and the water speed record at 276.33 mph aboard Bluebird K7, the only person to capture both records the same year. After Campbell’s ownership of about a year, a number of owners followed and the car went to America.
Decades later a questing pursuit by Hugh Hunter’s admiring nephew saw EMY 4 rediscovered in 1998 in Oregon’s Pacific Northwest. Owned by enthusiast Jim Blackaby (a retired NASA engineer who worked on Project Mercury, Project Gemini and the Apollo program), the car was complete but still patiently awaiting restoration. It then returned to the UK beginning a second period of Hunter family ownership and a revival of its fortunes.
A meticulous restoration was commissioned by Alpine Eagle and was completed in 2002. In addition to a full mechanical rebuild and overhaul where necessary, the original Hunter terracotta livery and upholstery was reinstated. A modern overdrive unit was also fitted, making the car perfect for long distance touring.
Testament to the quality of the restoration, on the cars concours debut it was victorious in the Derby Bentley class at the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club Annual Rally in June 2002 in a field of thirty cars. Chassis No B11HM then returned the following year also winning the competitive Master Class. With sparing use since restoration, the car remains in superb condition today.
It is complete with extensive history files, a concealed tool kit in the boot, copy chassis cards and a wonderful historical story of ownership. A magnificent Derby Bentley that should be seen and driven to be truly appreciated.
Four speed manual gearbox, 6 cylinder in-line engine, 4.25 litres displacement, 4257cc capacity. Servo-assisted brakes.