1938 Bentley 4 1/4 Litre (Overdrive) Drophead Coupe by Park Ward

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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 carburetor version of Rolls-Royces own 20/25 model and was installed in a low 126-inch wheel base 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. 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 motor car.



1936 saw further improvements with the introduction of the 4.25 Litre model when production of the 3.5 Litre unit ceased. Steady development continued throughout the cars production and in late 1938 even more power was obtained when the overdrive models were introduced, which were known as the MX/MR series cars. The original Bentley sales literature outlined the key improvements that improved the overdrive cars performance which included the provision of an overdrive gearbox which would allow the car to attain a greater maximum speed without exceeding maximum engine revolutions. The steering was of improved design, providing greater control under all conditions. Modified gear ratios and slight engine modifications also improved acceleration under certain conditions. The slower running engine coupled with the over drive top gear resulted in greater silence and smoothness. And finally centralised chassis lubrication and automatic shock absorbers with over-riding hand control were fitted. The MX/MR models were truly the ultimate incarnation on the Derby chassis and are still very much sought after today. Just two hundred chassis examples were created, finding their way to lucky owners with a variety of coachwork designs.



Park Ward were responsible for a wide range of coachwork designs on Derby Bentley chassis, from their very popular saloons to more exotic creations such as the coachwork worn by Chassis No B78MR which we are currently offering for sale. The two door, four light drophead coupe design was completed just four times on the overdrive chassis, with this car completed in December 1938 and supplied to Mrs H Wallace Vernon when new. In 1946 it was registered in Essex as MHX 233 where it remained until it was acquired by Eleanor Mary Pearson in September 1964. It was inherited by her nephew Mr Peter Coni OBE QC in January 1976. Mr Coni was not only a Bentley enthusiast but was also a steward and then the chairman of the Henley Royal Regatta, remaining actively involved in the event until his passing in 1993.



Chassis No B78MR ran into trouble in 1980 when the gearbox seized and at this point the car was transported to P&A Wood where it remained in storage until 1994 when it was acquired from the estate of Mr Coni by the present owner. A year later in April 1995 he then instructed P&A Wood to carry out a detailed report on the car. Following the report, the restoration works began and in 2004 they were completed by P&A Wood, returning the car to the very highest standards. In the ensuing years, bringing us up to present day, the car has been sparingly used (around 5,000 miles have been completed since the extensive restoration was completed) whilst being correctly maintained.



This very stylish example comes with handbook, copies of the original chassis cards plus an extensive history file detailing the very large amount of restoration works P&A Wood carried out. A beautiful Derby Bentley that should be seen and driven to be truly appreciated.


4 1/4 Litre (Overdrive)
Park Ward
Body Type
Drophead Coupe
Dark Blue and Cream
Cream Leather

Very good.

Technical Data

Four speed manual gearbox, 6 cylinder in-line engine, 4.25 litres displacement, 4257cc capacity. Servo-assisted brakes.

Currently Registered in
The United Kingdom
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