1937 Bentley 4 ¼ Litre Owen Sedanca Coupe by Gurney Nutting


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 is what 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 enthusiasts 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 4 ¼ 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.

Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale one of the rarest and most desirable Derby Bentleys. This particular car is a 1937 Bentley 4 ¼ Litre Owen Sedanca Coupe by Gurney Nutting. It is understood that only seventeen or perhaps nineteen 3 ½ and 4 ½ Litre Bentleys were built with the Owen Sedanca coach work by Gurney Nutting making this a very rare and exclusive car indeed. J Gurney Nutting was one of the most respected and exclusive coachbuilders from inception through until the outbreak of World War II, often building cars for the British Royal family, the Maharajas, as well as the ‘rich and famous’.

The original Bentley build sheets confirm this car had a date of sale of the 1st September 1937 and it was sold through Rolls Royce & Bentley specialists HR Owen to Captain GHS Balmain of the 12th Royal Lancers, who took delivery of the car from the Mayfair showroom of HR Owen Ltd on 26 November 1937. Interestingly the Captain was able to negotiate a 17 ½ % discount on the purchase price of his Bentley bringing the purchase down to £952, which included a two-inch longer steering column at an additional cost of four pounds!

This car has a rich history file with significant historical records, maintenance receipts, the original UK registration log books and documents on file.

The car passed through a number of owners in the UK (all documented on the registration log books / papers on file) before being acquired by well-known collector Tim Forrest in December 1993. Forrest immediately commenced a full restoration on the car and once complete used it sparingly. The car was often used for displays and seen at various Bentley events in the UK. It was then acquired from Tim Forrest by a noted Australian collector and imported in to Australia in mid 2001. There is an Import Approval on file dated 30 May 2001. The car then changed hands in 2015 (joining another significant collection), however, a change in circumstances has resulted in this stunning Bentley now being offered for sale. The car has been hardly used in the last three years and today the odometer reads 46,618 miles.

This car was well used in its early life as confirmed by the maintenance records on file. In 1952 the engine was rebuilt at 67,805 miles and again in 1960 at 116,334 miles. Interestingly the original engine was replaced in 1964 at 121,823 miles.

Today this gorgeous Bentley remains in absolutely stunning condition inside and out. Once ELB 451 arrived into Australia in 2001 it was treated to a repaint and the paint work remains in excellent condition all round. Similarly, all of the exterior trim and chrome remains in excellent condition. The interior of this car is just gorgeous. The leather has a very slight patina which is ‘just right’ and the timberwork is excellent. Similarly, the instruments and controls, which all look to be in working order, are in excellent condition. Even the carpets remain in good condition. The engine bay is also very clean and tidy. The photos speak for themselves!

You could not pick a better colour scheme for this stunning car. The two tone green paint work, contrasting black top and the green interior just oozes classic Bentley elegance.

The Derby Bentleys are often referred to as the ‘silent sport scar’ and this 4 ¼ Litre is exactly that. It is extremely hard to even hear the engine running, it just goes about its business. Yet out on the open road it performs exceptionally well and it definitely has that WO Bentley pedigree. There’s no doubt it would relish being driven with some gusto and now fitted with an overdrive unit the Bentley is a very capable and comfortable long distance cruiser. On a recent test drive the car performed exceptionally well.

An interesting anorak is that from 1937 until 2001 the car was always registered in the UK as ELB 451 and when it was registered in Australia it carried the Victorian registration ELB 451!

In addition to the original build sheets, the original UK buff log book, substantial history file, service records and an owner’s manual this car has a full tool kit in ‘as new’ condition.

This 1937 Bentley 4 ¼ Litre Owen Sedanca Coupe by Gurney Nutting is an extremely rare, desirable and collectable car. Located in Australia with all taxes paid this presents a unique opportunity.

Price: Enquire.


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  • Bentley 4 ¼ Litre
  • 1937
  • Sedanca de Ville
  • Manual
  • 46,618 miles
  • 4257 cc

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