By the end of the 1930s the 'Derby' Bentley, introduced towards the beginning of that decade following the firm's take-over by Rolls-Royce, had undergone a number of significant developments, not the least of which was an increase in bore size in 1936 that upped the capacity to 4,257cc, a move that coincided with the adoption of superior Hall's Metal bearings. This new engine was shared with the equivalent Rolls-Royce - the 25/30hp - and as had been the case with the preceding 3½-Litre model, enjoyed a superior specification in Bentley form, boasting twin SU carburettors, raised compression ratio and a more 'sporting' camshaft. Thus the new 4¼-Litre model offered more power than before while retaining the well-proven chassis with its faultless gear change and servo-assisted brakes.
The Derby Bentley was, of course, an exclusively coachbuilt automobile. Of the 2,442 manufactured, almost 50 percent were bodied by Park Ward in a limited number of styles. That offered here though, boasts handsome, 'razor edge' brougham coachwork by Freestone & Webb of North London, one of the finest of all British coachbuilders and a firm associated with quality marques from its earliest days, particularly Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Mercedes-Benz. Copy chassis cards on file show that chassis number 'B66LS' was delivered to Freestone & Webb on 1st December 1937 and issued with a guarantee on 18th February 1938. It should be noted that the chassis card records the original engine as 'U8BS'.
The Bentley's first owner was Herman Rawlinson, Esq of Rawtenstall, Lancashire and its original registration was 'CTF 148', which it retains. The accompanying old-style continuation logbook (issued 1953) lists Douglas Hall as owner from May 1952 followed by the dealership Charles Clark & Son (Stafford) Ltd and then from October 1957 by George William Crump, who registered his ownership with Bentley Motors in July 1960. Its next owner was Clement Oscar Day of Norwell Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire (change of ownership undated).
There are invoices on file, issued by marque specialists Ristes Motor Company Ltd between 1978 and 1980, which indicate that extensive mechanical refurbishment was carried out while the car was in Mr Day's possession. Gordon Willey acquired 'B66LS' in April 1996, though it is not known from whom it was purchased. There is little in the history file of subsequent date apart from a V5C registration document and three MoT certificates, issued in 1978, 1993 and 2003 respectively, the last two showing fewer than 1,000 miles covered in the intervening period. Only a handful of miles has been covered since 2003 and in more recent years the Bentley has been in storage with Messrs P&A Wood. Careful re-commissioning will be required before it returns to the road.