1939 Bentley 4¼-Litre Drophead Coupé Coachwork by H J Mulliner Registration no. FLH 777 Chassis no. B95LE Engine no. D3BK
'There are very few faster motor cars than the Bentley. There are no sports type cars as docile, noiseless and fuss-less.' - Rolls-Royce, from the 4¼-Litre model's introductory brochure of 1936.
The Bentley 4¼-Litre offered here, chassis number 'B95LE', carries 'concealed hood' drophead coupé coachwork by H J Mulliner (design '5969'), to whom it was delivered on 9th May 1938. Finally tested at Mulliner's on 15th July 1938, the Bentley was not sold until January 1939, its purchaser being N A Bronsten Esq of Prudential House, Cannon Street, London EC4. The copy chassis card records the customer as 'stock', perhaps indicating that the car had been retained by Bentley Motors for demonstration purposes. Bronsten had ordered the Bentley from Jack Barclay Ltd and immediately had it repainted from the original deep maroon to black, stipulating that it should be done 'by first class workmen, at a cost to me not exceeding £15'. The chassis cards list a further four owners, the last of whom, L Skrine Esq, registered the car with Bentley Motors on 18th January 1951.
A very well known Derby Bentley, 'B95LE' is featured in Johnnie Green's Bentley: 50 Years of the Marque, being the only car in the entire book that has three photographs devoted to it. It also appears in Bernard L King's The Derby Built Bentleys and in John Adams and Ray Roberts A Pride of Bentleys, in which it is shown winning an award at the 1939 RAC Brighton Rally for the original owner.
In 1979, 'B95LE' was purchased from P&A Wood by Bentley collector and aficionado, James Fack, the previous owner having been a Mr Elvins of Worcestershire. At that time Mr Fack's father was the Netherlands Ambassador to the Court of St James and in 1981 he and his wife were invited, in their official capacity, to attend the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer. Wearing a period chauffeur's uniform, James drove his parents in the cavalcade of cars proceeding to St Paul's Cathedral, the Bentley and its occupants receiving a tumultuous reception from the appreciative crowd lining the ceremonial route. James sold the Bentley to Nick Whitaker in 1982 and says that driving it to the Royal Wedding was undoubtedly the highpoint of his ownership.
Gordon Willey purchased 'B95LE' from marque specialists Alpine Eagle of Clanfield, Oxfordshire, who undertook extensive remedial works to the suspension and other areas as part of the sales agreement (invoices on file). The only other surviving maintenance record from this period is Dyer's Motor Engineers' invoice dated October 1993 for the fitting of a re-conditioned cylinder head. Dyer's invoice records the mileage at that time as 41,411 while the solitary MoT certificate on file (issued July 2001), shows that it had increased by only 110 miles in the intervening eight years. Only a further eight miles had been added to the total when P&A Wood commenced an extensive programme of renovation in December 2012, which was completed in August 2015 at a cost in excess of £23,000.
Epitomising the understated quality of the British high-performance car of the 1930s, this well documented example of Bentley's peerless 'Silent Sports Car' is offered with aforementioned history and a current V5C registration document.