1934 Bentley 3½ Litre Pillarless Coupé by Gurney Nutting
Chassis number: B-91-AE
Registration Number: AXK870
Believed to be the first 2-door Coupé Derby BentleyThe first Gurney Nutting-bodied DerbyFully rebuilt in 1991-1993Overdrive, upgraded clutch, exhaust cutout and full flow oil filter fitted
THIS MOTOR CAR
The Bentley 3½ Litre for sale is a very special car indeed. Ordered on the 3rd October 1933 and on test with Bentley Motors on the 28th December 1933, chassis B-91-AE is one of the earliest Derby Bentleys in existence and thought to be the fifth Derby Bentley delivered to a customer. It is also the first Derby Bentley with coachwork from legendary coachbuilders Gurney Nutting and is thought to be the first Fixed Head Coupé on the new Bentley chassis. The style of body was used on a further 11 chassis but the specific details of this car are totally unique to this example, the first of the Gurney Nutting ‘Swept Panel’ Coupés.
The first owner was Mr. J. Cowley, the Chairman of the Daily Mirror at the time. He would keep the car until his death in 1944. The ownership history of B-91-AE is known right back to new and the incredible history file contains many letters of correspondence between owners at different times in the cars history.
Mr. R. Hipkiss of High Wycombe bought B-91-AE. With the Diamond Jubilee of the launch of the Derby Bentley just on the horizon, Mr. Hipkiss immediately embarked on a ground up restoration of B-91-AE, all of which is documented in not only the invoices and two large photo albums but through the original workshop logs of the restorers who did it. Fiennes Engineering were entrusted with the mechanical side of the restoration and Stephen Penny did all of the coachwork. After nearly two years and £74,000 in 1991-1993, B-91-AE was back to how it had been delivered nearly fifty years before. It was such a special event that the Bentley Driver’s Club Review decided to re-enact the photograph of the Press launch of the new Derby Bentley in 1933 outside the Aldenham Club with B-91-AE and B-1-AE, the Vanden Plas Open Tourer that featured in the original photograph and Press launch.
That year, the BDC Annual Concours celebrated the Diamond Jubilee and B-91-AE was entered and swept the board, winning ‘Best in Class, Derby Saloon’, ‘First Prize, All Derby Bentleys’ and ‘Overall Champion’. Concours success would continue into 1994 and Mr. Hipkiss would care for B-91-AE until 1999 when the decision was made to pass her on to a new custodian, who came in the form of Mr. Tennant-Eyles, an extremely skilled and fastidious engineer who would further improve this stunning Bentley including the installation of an overdrive. Such was the attention to detail of this job that is not only lead to an article in The Derby Bentley Technical Scheme but we have pages upon pages of hand drawn plans, sketches and photographs documenting the process. At this time the clutch, a common weak point on early Derby Bentleys was upgraded.
In 2015 after sixteen happy years of ownership, Mr. Tennant-Eyles entrusted respected marque specialists, Frank Dale & Stepsons to find a new home for B-91-AE. The car was subsequently sold by the Classic motor hub.
Accompanied by two huge history files with a staggering amount of invoices, correspondence, photographs and even MOT certificates from the early 1960’s, the provenance of this fabulous motor car is well documented. Being a one off body style, the first Derby with coachwork by Gurney Nutting and one of the earliest surviving Derby Bentleys, makes this incredible Bentley 3½ Litre for sale at Vintage & Prestige Cars a unique opportunity to acquire not only one of the most refined and best cars of its day but undoubtedly, one of the rarest and best examples.
To drive this car is to imagine how they must have driven when new. The eye watering bills would equate to around £200,000 in todays money & there is simly not much more that could be done to the car then already has been done. The Overdrive makes for relaxed cruising at speed & the car is quite a bit quicker them many 4.25 litre examples. Indeed one really has to drive this car to realise it is the benchmark by which others may be judged.