1934 Bentley 3½ Litre Park Ward Drophead Coupe
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. 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 4½ Litre. Bentleys 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 a very rare and extremely elegant 1934 Bentley 3½ Litre Park Ward Drophead Coupe.
This particular car is chassis number B17BN and according to the original Bentley build sheet on file the car was delivered through Martin Walter Ltd in Folkstone, Kent, UK to a Miss M Knight of Smeeth, Kent, UK. The car is dated as being ‘off test’ on the 27th August 1934 and it was ultimately delivered to Miss Knight on the 6th October 1934.
As confirmed by the build sheets the car today retains its original ‘matching numbers’ engine O5BM and it has its original Park Ward body (138).
There is a fascinating article on file written by Bert Ward for the Praeclarum magazine No.79-4 from August 1979 that details the early history of B17BN. According to Ward in 1934 Lt Commander Fogarty, a member of the British Royal Navy, married Lady Mary (Knight) and the bride’s father gifted the couple a Bentley 3½ Litre, fitted with Park Ward Drophead Coupe body. The car was originally painted a grey/green with grey leather upholstery and fitted with a grey canvas hood. Shortly thereafter Fogarty left the Navy and the couple moved to Australia and settled on a property in Kurrajong at the foot of the Blue Mountains north west of Sydney. Ward was the Sydney Rolls Royce agent and picked the car up from the wharf when it arrived into Australia. He serviced the car, assisted with getting it registered and thereafter looked after it for many years. Ward comments in his article that Ms Fogarty was not the best of drivers and was very harsh on the clutch! At the outbreak of World War II Fogarty was called back to the British Navy and early in the war he was killed off the North West African coast. Ms Fogarty moved to Sydney and after the war she and her Bentley disappeared. Through the 1950’s the car is reported to have been seen in Sydney from time to time.
The car was acquired by a well-known member of the Rolls Royce community in 1978 and taken back to Melbourne, Victoria. He enjoyed B17BN for many years until it was sold through RA McDermott & Co in 1992. The car was acquired by another well-known member of the Rolls Royce community in Brisbane, QLD who engaged McDermotts to restore the car. Over the next four years the car went through an extensive chassis, mechanical and partial body frame restoration. An astronomical amount of money was spent on the car at this time (confirmed by the receipts on file) and the car’s new owner ultimately on-sold the car to its current owner in 1999. Whilst the timber frame was partially restored the car’s new owner made the decision to fully restore the body and repaint the car. He also had the car re-trimmed, finally completing a restoration that started back in the early 1990’s.
The car is well documented in the book Rolls Royce and Bentley in the Sunburnt Country by Tom Clarke & David Neely. Following is the history as described in the book:
B17BN – engine O5BM, off test Aug 1934, Park Ward Drophead Coupe (body A138) first owned in England; sold secondhand to Lt Comdr Fogarty, RN, Jervois Bay, NSW and Toolern Vale, Vic. 1937 registered NSW BLZ 331; with Fogarty and Mrs MM Fogarty to Kurrijong, NSW and Bellevue Hill, Sydney pre 1939.Peter Crawford, NSW, 1970’s.
In the last twenty years the car’s current owner has used B17BN sparingly. Today the car presents well in a very tasteful colour scheme of old English white with maroon guards and accents.
The paintwork remains in good condition with a high gloss finish, though on closer inspection there are a number of imperfections and blemishes evident. The exterior trim and chrome are also in good condition. For a 1930’s convertible the panel gaps on the car are very good. The interior of the car is neat and tidy. The leather is in good condition with no rips or tears and it has just the right amount of patina. The timberwork, which was redone in the late 1990’s, is also in good condition. The car’s owner reports proudly that he has very rarely, if ever, driven the car with the soft top up. The top is in good condition, though there is a small split approx. 1cm long on the left hand side and the foam lining is starting to separate.
Mechanically the car appears to be in very good condition. The car starts easily and it idles smoothly. It warms quickly and once you get comfortable with the driving position it is surprisingly easy to drive. B17BN drives well, the gear change is precise and the car handles and stops as one would expect. The car is very original, except it has a modern fuel pump fitted to improve drivability. The engine bay and underside of the car are exceptionally clean. As with all Bentleys this is a driver’s car and on a recent test drive the car performed very well. It should be noted that the fuel gauge is not working.
The car was fitted with five new Blockley tyres about 2 years ago. Today the odometer is ticking over 80,000 miles, though it is not working properly.
Here is a chance to own a very rare and one of the most desirable of the Derby Bentleys.
- Bentley 3½ Litre Park Ward Drophead Coupe
- Drophead Coupe
- 80,000 miles