Bentley 3 1/2 Litre Sports Saloon

The 3½ Litre (and later 4¼ Litre) was presented to the public in September 1933, shortly after the death of Henry Royce, and was the first new Bentley model following Rolls-Royce's acquisition of the Bentley brand in 1931. This era of Bentley models are also known as "Derby Bentleys" because they were built in the Rolls-Royce factory located in Derby, England.

From the outset, the car was intended to compete on quality and grace rather than sporting reputation which had been the cornerstone of the pre-1931 Bentley company. The cars retained the famous curved radiator shape based on earlier Bentley models, but in all meaningful respects they were clearly Rolls-Royces. Although disappointing some traditional customers, they were well received by many others and even W.O. Bentley himself was reported as saying that he would "rather own this Bentley than any other car produced under that name."

The Rolls-Royce Engineer in charge of the development project, Ernest Hives (later Lord Hives), underlined the Rolls-Royce modus operandus in a memo addressed to company staff "our recommendation is that we should make the car as good as we know how and then charge accordingly."

Despite not being a car of remarkable outright performance, the car's unique blend of style and grace proved popular with the inter-war elite and it became known as the "silent sports car." Over 70% of the cars built between 1933 and 1939 were said to have still been in existence 70 years later.[2] although chassis production ceased in 1939, a number of cars were still being bodied and delivered during 1940. The last few were delivered and first registered in 1941.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in October of 2009 at the Battersea Evolution, London and in May of 2010 at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco.

120 bhp, 3,660 cc six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, leaf springs front and rear, four-wheel drum brakes.

Sources: RM Auctions and Wikipedia, 2011

Gallery: Bentley 3 1/2 Litre Sports Saloon