Bentley 4 1/4 Litre Four-Seater Tourer

When Rolls-Royce Motors acquired Bentley in 1931, it was agreed that the company would continue to produce a Bentley. The first Derby-built Bentley appeared in 1933. Modifying the chassis and engine used in the Rolls-Royce 20/25 horsepower car and fitting a new cross-flow head, twin SU carburettors, and a re-profiled camshaft, resulted in a very sporting motor car.

Primarily designed for the owner-driver, it was promoted as the “Silent Sports Car”, fast yet refined for long-distance touring. Late in 1935, the 4¼-litre engine, based on the modified Rolls-Royce 25/30 horsepower unit, was offered as a £50 option on the 3½-litre. It was an immediate success, and it was adopted as the standard engine in 1936.

Motor magazine reviewed the new model in April of 1936. “An altogether extremely satisfactory car, which provides a unique combination of verve with docility, speed with comfort, and performance with silence”. The Silent Sports Car attracted notable buyers, such as Sir Malcolm Campbell, the Duke of Kent (who bought two), and well-known racing driver E. R. “Eddie” Hall.

B183HM was delivered to its new owner, G.F. Wilkens, as a Park Ward standard steel saloon. Park Ward was one of about 60 coachbuilders providing bodies for the Derby cars; they developed four “standard” design steel bodies for Derby Bentleys and built more saloons than any other coachbuilder. Their edge was technology; others were still building bodies like carriages, with ash hardwood frames skinned with aluminium. In all, 530 of 1,234 Bentley 4¼-litre cars carried Park Ward steel saloon bodies. Though graceful and practical, they were prone to corrosion and many, like this car, were ultimately re-bodied.

The work was carried out in the 1950s by respected West Sussex coachbuilders James E. Pearce. This touring body is finished in British Racing Green with a Le Mans-type fabric covering. Design cues from the Vintage Bentley era, like the Winged “B” mascot, with the aluminium step plates and Auster-type twin windscreens, capture the essence of these cars. Still powered by its original 4¼-litre engine, this car is offered by a long-time Bentley enthusiast who has been a fixture at a number of Bentley and other pre-war tours for many years. The car performs as it should, and the fortunate new owner will be able to enjoy it for years to come.

Part of the RM Auctions event in London, October, 2012.

126 hp, 4,257 cc six-cylinder OHV engine, twin SU carburettors, four-speed manual gearbox, front and rear semi-elliptic leaf spring suspension with solid front axle and live rear axle, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 126 in.

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Dan Savinelli

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