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1936 Bentley 4 ¼ Litre Roadster by Chalmers and Gathings

A Stunning One-Off Derby Bentley Roadster. Numerous Recent Concours Awards

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Exterior Color Metallic Grey
Interior Color Saddle Ostrich and Slate Grey Calf Hide Interior
Mileage 63603 Miles
Engine 4 ¼ Litre 6-Cylinder no. N8BU
Transmission 4-Speed Manual
Status Sold
Stock FJ1828


1936 Bentley 4 ¼ Litre Roadster by Chalmers and Gathings
s/n B25GP, engine no. N8BU
Metallic Grey with Saddle Ostrich and Slate Grey Calf Hide Interior

The first Bentley model produced after Rolls-Royce's acquisition of the Bentley company, the "Derby Bentleys" were so named because they were built at Rolls-Royce's Derby Factory (rather than Crewe). Ultimately, these would be the last cars built at that factory because it was converted to Merlin aircraft engine production during World War II, and in fact remained dedicated to aircraft engine production from that point onward.

Initially available as the 3 ½ Litre starting in 1933, the Derby Bentley evolved into the 4 ¼ in 1936. Originally intended to supplement the smaller engine car, the new model's popularity soon resulted in the discontinuation of the 3 ½. Both cars were refined and elegant, earn the famous "silent sports car" moniker that would become synonymous with Bentley. With 4-wheel servo-assisted brakes, the cars stopped well and had other sophisticated features such as synchromesh 3rd and 4th gears with overdrive top gear on late production cars, and cross flow cylinder heads. As was customary, the cars could be fitted with bodies from a variety of coach builders. About half of all cars built employed Park Ward bodies, with the remainder supplied from the standard (and not-so-standard) coachbuilders.

This particular example is an award-winning one-of-a-kind car. It was designed and constructed over an 18 year period by its enthusiastic owner, who is a graduate of Art Center College of Design (which along with the College for Creative Studies, supplies the majority of American car designers) and founder of a design consultancy. He is also a longtime Bentley enthusiast who in addition to an R-Type Continental he owned for over thirty years, has owned many Derby Bentleys, including a one-off Vanvooren drophead that placed second in class at Pebble Beach during his ownership.

The design of this car began as a series of sketches in 1992. He purchased this 4 ¼ liter Derby Bentley in 1993, selling the Gurney Nutting coachwork to another enthusiast and comprehensively restoring the rolling chassis and driveline over the next eight years with MD Coachworks in Van Nuys. Meanwhile, along with other Art Center collaborators, the sketches were realized as full scale lofts, proper drawings created, and a wooden body buck and ash frame were constructed by Doug Chalmers. The all aluminum body was hand built by Bill Gathings. The styling draws heavily on the work of Georges Paulin, who designed among other cars, the famous Embiricos Bentley to which this car bears considerable resemblance.

The build was extensively photo documented and it is clear that the car was an absolute labor of love by a talented and dedicated team. It was finished in 2014 and has been successfully shown several times since, including First Place in the Derby Bentley class at the Rolls-Royce Owner’s Club national meet in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania in August of 2014. At the same event, the car also won the Virgil Millet Jr. Trophy for Best American Coachwork on a Rolls-Royce or Bentley Chassis. It also won best of show at the Palos Verde Concours d’Elegance and the Best Classic Design Award at the Art Center College of Design Car Show in October of 2014. In March of 2015, the car won the Best Restored Bentley award at a Rolls-Royce Owners Club event in Southern California in March 2015, People’s Choice at La Jolla Concours d’Elegance in April 2015 and was also displayed at the Quail Motorsports Gathering in August of 2015.

The car is absolutely stunning in person. Not only is it an extremely elegant car that accurately captures the arresting presence of the late prewar French “goutte d’eau” (or drop of water) designs, but the attention to detail and craftsmanship are truly outstanding. The car’s condition is consistent with what one would expect for an example that recently won awards in high caliber events, with a few minute paint blemishes but no other faults of which to speak. The craftsmanship is first rate, for example, the locking mechanisms of the bonnets have a fluid and repeatable character to their operation that is often missing in prewar cars. Full Marchal lighting is fitted at the front, along with neatly incorporated flush rear lights. The interior is also a work of art, with wonderful art deco styling to the door panels, lavish ostrich upholstery, and ornate two-tone woodwork. The quality of the materials and workmanship are universally impressive. The trunk was trimmed to the same high standard in matching high quality wool, and the engine compartment is comprehensively and correctly restored and fully detailed.

The car is a pleasure to drive as well, with well-rendered ergonomics, excellent powertrain and driveline, and a coherent chassis. The engine is well tuned and makes good power, the clutch engages positively, and the gearchange is a pleasure, with good operation of the gearbox and linkage. The steering and suspension are direct and communicative, and the car is impressively usable with a wonderful dialed-in feel that shows that as much attention to detail went into the restoration of the mechanical components as into the construction and finishing of the body and interior.

This is a truly unrepeatable opportunity to acquire a stunning one-off Bentley. Beautifully realized, lovingly designed and constructed, and extremely well-engineered, this car is as good as or better than if it had been built in period. By the same token, it is completely convincing as a car that could have been done in the late 1930s. The car comes with an ostrich skin trimmed tool roll and is extensively documented with photographs and a book containing a narrative describing the conception and construction of this car, there are also numerous sketches and renderings dating back to the original design of the body.


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Fantasy Junction +1 510 653 7555 Emeryville, California 94608 USA

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