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|Bentley 3 1/2 Litre 3-Window Fixed Head Coupe by Kellner|
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|1935 Bentley 3½-Liter Three-Window Fixed Head Coupe|
Coachwork by Kellner of Paris
Engine No. D7BZ
Black with Butterscotch Leather
Exclusive and sporting by nature, the Derby Bentleys were often the property of the social and economic elite. The great majority of the 3 ½ and 4 ¼ series cars were bodied by Park Ward, while comparably few were exported to mainland Europe to be bodied by Europe’s foremost artesian craftsmen. This particular example is one such example having been bodied by Kellner of Paris by the order of the King of Spain, reportedly for his sweetheart at the time, Madame Marceau who was a Paris resident.
Chassis number B174DG was guaranteed by the factory on 25th July 1935 prior to being dispatched to France for bodying by Kellner. Operating out of showrooms on the Champs-Elysées, Kellner specialized in coachwork for the most important auto manufactures of the era, most notably Hispano-Suiza and Bentley. Kellner’s first motor coach was fitted in 1910, but carriage bodies were produced by the firm as far back as 1861. During The Great War, the firm had been involved in the construction of the SPAD fighter plane, one of the Allies’ most effective combat aircraft. Also of note, Kellner bodied the 5th of the original 6 Bugatti Royales. This elegant, one-off three window coupe features enclosed fenders, an attractive low roofline with equally short windscreen, and a seductively sloping tail section.
By the 1960s the Bentley had been acquired by Dr. Ralph Brooks, a well known enthusiast of Bentleys. Dr. Brooks carried out a cosmetic and mechanical restoration and retained the car until his death in the 1980s. At that time his estate sold the car to Norman Herstein, and the car subsequently returned to the UK. It was re-restored a second time prior to its appearance at Pebble Beach in 2004. More recent work performed includes fresh paint and an overhaul of the wiring loom, as well as the installation of the Payne electric overdrive by Laurence Anderson, noted Bentley service and restoration expert. The mechanical work and interior refurbishment done for Dr Brooks are holding up well.
Today the car presents well, with a light and uniform patina when compared to freshly competed Pebble Beach caliber cars. The paint, brightwork, and upholstery are all very good condition, without significant flaws. By virtue of its rarity, magnificent lines, and intriguing history, this car will be a welcome entrant to regional and local shows were indeed it would be a class-win contender. The engine bay and truck and nicely detailed and representative of a very well kept older restoration surviving well. The original tool kits, European tea service, and fitted luggage remain in tact, which both nicely complete the car for show purposes, and are a testament to its careful custodianship over the last 75 years.
The car runs well with quiet, smooth power delivery. The transmission, clutch, suspension, and brakes all operate as you would expect of a well sorted restoration. Discreetly fitted with a Payne electric overdrive unit, this 3 ½ is all the more usable in modern day traffic.
This elegant Derby- bodied by one of the most exclusive French coachbuilders and with very interesting provenance- represents an outstanding opportunity for the discriminating Bentley enthusiast searching for a historically interesting yet eminently usable automobile ideal for casual showing or tour events. Alternatively, it will be an important addition to an existing collection of coach built or pre-war Bentleys.
Sold on the 27.08.2012
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