1939 Bentley 4¼-Litre Tourer

Coachwork in the style of Vanden Plas by Crailville Ltd.

Coachwork by. Crailville in the style of Vanden Plas

Chassis No. B-7-MX

Engine No. K-9-BE

Registration No. 33 MX

+44 (0)1869 244 255


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The ultimate expression of pre-war motoring refinement, the Bentley 4¼-Litre model was introduced in 1936. As with the preceding 3½-Litre model, the 4¼-Litre was powered by a development of an existing Rolls-Royce engine. In the case of the 4¼-Litre model said engine was the 25/30HP unit that was, in turn, essentially a larger capacity version of the preceding 20/25HP motor that had been developed for the 3½-Litre Bentley. To further enhance the performance the engines featured a newly designed cylinder head with larger valves, a stronger bottom end with a new type of main bearing, a higher compression ratio with a camshaft to suit and breathed through twin SU carburettors. The chassis design remained much the same and retained the servo assisted brakes and superbly smooth and silent gearbox of the preceding model. The Derby Bentleys were exclusively a coachbuilt model and most of the 2,442 produced were fitted with either saloon or drophead coupécoachwork by Park Ward with only a few receiving open touring coachwork.

Of all the Derby Bentleys produced the most sought after by collectors today are undoubtedly the 200 uprated “overdrive” models that were manufactured by the firm just before the outbreak of The Second World War stopped motor car production at the Rolls-Royce Derby works. The original overdrive models are easily recognised by their chassis numbers which end in either MR or MX. The addition of overdrive allowed for much greater cruising speeds and catered for the larger roads being built in continental Europe. 3000rpm allowed for a cruising speed of 78mph and thus the overdrive models are still highly suited to long distance continental touring today.

Copy factory chassis cards, on file, indicate that this original MX series “overdrive” Bentley 4¼ –Litre, chassis no. B-7-MX was fitted with engine no. K- 9-BE and completed by the Derby works and put on test on 17thFebruary 1939. On 24thFebruary the running chassis was sent to Park Ward and fitted with a four-door four-light saloon body. Once completed the car was finally tested on 2ndMay 1939 it was despatched to Rossleigh Ltd. in Edinburgh where it was employed as a demonstrator, registered CWS 1. It is thought to have been the first overdrive model sent to Scotland.

An early continuation buff log-booked shows that by 1949 the car was with Jack Barclay Ltd in Hanover Square. Subsequent owners are listed and in 1954 the car was re-registered FWG 135. The current owner purchased this MX series Derby from Albert Beeman Honess of Kent in the early 1970s. By this stage the car was a non-runner but the underpinnings were thought to be quite solid and ripe for restoration. The entire car was carefully dismantled and the engine and many mechanical components sent off to various specialists such as Fiennes Restoration Ltd. and S. Brunt Ltd with invoices on file for engine rebuild work and numerous parts. At the time of restoring the car the original body was beyond economical repair, was set aside, and is offered as part of the sale of the car. A new body was constructed by Crailville Ltd. of Southall to replicate the extremely rare and sought-after sports touring coachwork by Vanden Plas as ordered originally by the likes of Sir Malcolm Campbell.

The restoration was completed in the late 1990s and the car was re-registered ‘MX 33,’ – a rather nice number for an MX series car. The current owner and his wife have enjoyed the “MX” exactly as it should be, completing many trouble free touring miles on the continent, the overdrive allowing for comfortable cruising speeds much as it would have done when new. Sold only due to the owner’s advancing years, this fine Derby Bentley offers the ultimate grand touring comfort and style and is available to viewed together with the extensive history file that accompanies it.