1935 Bentley 3 1/2 Litre by Thrupp & Maberly
The Bentley motor car company was founded back in 1919 by brothers W.O. and H.M. Bentley. The Bentley brothers were involved in the motor industry having acquired the agency to sell French built DFP (Doriot, Flandrin & Parant) cars in 1912, however, they desperately wanted to build their own cars. So that they did and the first Bentley motor car, being just a chassis with a dummy engine, was shown at the 1919 London Motor Show and in late 1921 the first production Bentleys were built and delivered to their new owners.
Bentley got the formula right and their cars proved to be luxurious, reliable and fast thus attracting buyers from the elite of society in period. The cars were also incredibly successful on the race track with Bentley achieving the ultimate success winning Le Mans in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930.
The difficult economic times in the late 1920’s had a major impact on Bentley and they stopped motor racing soon after winning Le Mans in 1930 and ultimately fell into receivership in 1931. Rolls Royce acquired the assets of Bentley in late 1931. In this period Bentley produced some fabulous motor cars including the 3 Litre, 4½ Litre, ‘Blower Bentley’, 6½ Litre and 8 Litre models that are all today highly sought after by enthusiast and collectors all over the world. The first new Bentley produced following Rolls Royce’s acquisition was the Bentley 3½ Litre which evolved into the Bentley 4½ Litre. Bentley’s of this era are also known as Derby Bentleys as they were built at Rolls Royce’s factory located in Derby in the north of England.
Available now at Oldtimer Australia is this delightful 1935 Bentley 3½ Litre Sports Saloon. This particular car is chassis number B78FB and according to the original Bentley build sheets on file was a stock order for Rolls Royce and Bentley specialists Jack Barclay Limited of George Street, Hanover Square, London W1. The date of sale is noted as 27th August 1935 and the car was subsequently sent to coachbuilder Thrupp & Maberly on the 21st October 1935.
Clothed in the most elegant sports saloon body B78FB was delivered new to Mrs Diana Hope-Dunbar from London W1 in December 1935. Diana Hope-Dunbar was the wife to Terence De Marney, a well-known British film, stage, radio and television actor, as well as theatre director and writer. The car was on sold in 1936 to a Mr ET Hawthorne from Kettering north of London. It is understood Hawthorne owned the car for many years until it was sold to Lady Serena James from Richmond, Yorkshire in August 1951. The records note the car was then sold to Scott Cars, Hampstead, London in August 1958 and subsequently to W Woodhead from Sevenoaks, Kent in March 1963. The car then found its way to America and was advertised for sale in the July 1966 issue of the Flying Lady (The Periodical of the Rolls Royce Owners’ Club Inc) by DM Stanley from Alliance in Ohio. The car changed hands in circa 1970 when it was acquired by Arthur Wittmer from Cleveland, Ohio and later Longboat Key in Florida. Wittmer owned the car for some twenty years before it returned home to the UK and was sold through Riverside Classic Automobiles to a Mr & Mrs Heighington from Langdon Hills, Essex in June 1989.
The car was immediately taken off the road for a total restoration which included a bare metal repaint, interior re-trim and engine rebuild. The owner kept a meticulous log book of all of the work he had completed on the car and the costs throughout his ownership. The car returned to the road in April 1991 and its mileage at that time is noted as 57,781 miles. The car was then registered as CLC 485. The car had a Fiennes cylinder head fitted in March 2000 at around 65,000 miles. B78FB was regularly used during the Heighington’s ownership and it is noted as attending many Rolls Royce Enthusiasts Club and Bentley Drivers Club events. The car was often winning awards, including: 1997 RREC Annual Rally – 1st in Class and 1st in Class Elegance, 1997 BDC Annual Rally – “Highly Commended”, 1998 one of the classic Bentleys invited to attend the launch of the Bentley Arnage, 2000 BDC Annual Rally – 1st in Class ‘Patina’ award, 2002 RREC Annual Rally – 1st in Class Elegance award, 2002 BDC Family Day – Derby Class Owners’ Choice, 2005 RREC Annual Rally – 1st in Class Elegance Award, 2006 RREC Annual Rally – 1st in Class Elegance Award and in 2007 BDC Annual Rally – awarded the ‘Patina Class Prize’.
The car’s current Brisbane based owner acquired B78FB in the UK from the Heighingtons in September 2007 and subsequently imported the car into Australia. At that time the mileage was circa 73,000 miles.
Note: there are MOT’s on file from 1991 until 2007 which substantiate the cars mileage during this time.
Soon after arriving in Australia the car was taken to the 2008 Rolls Royce Owners Club of Australia Federal Rally where it won ‘Best Bentley’ at the Concours d’Elegance.
The car is well known amongst Rolls Royce and Bentley circles in Australia where it has been a regular attendee at events right across the country. The car continues to be driven and its current owner has recently returned from a round trip Brisbane – Stanthorpe – Brisbane where the car is reported to have performed faultlessly.
Whilst now an older restoration the car still presents very well. The cream over black paintwork suits the car perfectly and its condition today is very good. The paint work still carries a high gloss, though there are the odd few stone chips and marks from just being driven as one would expect. All of the exterior trim and chrome are also in very good condition. Inside the car the cabin is just a ‘lovely place to be’. The leather is in excellent condition with no rips or tears, the hood lining is excellent and the carpets are also very good. The timber work is beautiful, complimented by the instruments which are all in very good condition and in working order. Mechanically the car is ‘on the button’, evidenced by its recent circa 500km round trip from Brisbane to Stanthorpe and back. The car has an electronic over drive fitted for touring.
The car’s only need is that there are two hairline cracks in the body, one on either side at where the boot lid meets the rear guard. The current owner has a quote from a respected craftsman to have these repaired which we can discuss with any interested party.
As one would expect with a car of this quality it has a complete tool kit in excellent as restored condition, an owner’s manual, original delivery documentation, ownership history, a comprehensive vehicle log book kept from 1989 to 2007 and other miscellaneous documentation.
As confirmed by the build sheets the car today retains its original ‘matching numbers’ engine M7BT.
This car has won many awards over the years, and a significant number of those for elegance. That’s not surprising as it is just a stunning car.
Today the odometer reads 85,173 miles.
Note: the car is shown in the photographs with QLD registration 180 OTU, however, the car is being sold unregistered.
- 85173 miles