1937 Bentley 4.25 Litre Coupe

Bentley rose to prominence with powerful early models equally capable of winning the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans or carrying the most elegant coachwork effortlessly. However, even the fascinating figure of Woolf Barnato – diamond heir, investor, Le Mans winner, and leading Bentley Boy – could not save Bentley from receivership in 1931. W.O. Bentley believed he had agreed with Lagonda for a sale to be approved by the receivership court, until a higher offer from an unidentified bidder was presented. The bidder was revealed to be Bentley’s keen rival, Rolls-Royce.

After Rolls-Royce acquired Bentley's assets in 1931, it quickly terminated the 8-Liter model, which threatened the Rolls-Royce Phantom's lock on the British luxury market. However, recognizing the value of the Bentley name in the marketplace for sporting and owner-driven automobiles, Rolls-Royce leveraged the brand to set new trends. In 1933, Rolls-Royce introduced the Derby-built Bentley, the 3½ Liter. It was based on a 126-inch wheelbase chassis code-named Peregrine. The chassis frame was a lightweight yet rigid design specific to the Derby-built Bentleys, with adjustable hydraulic shock absorbers on the live axles. Fast and comfortable with exquisite road holding and manners, Bentleys were preferred by racing drivers like Malcolm Campbell and Raymond Mays.

The first Roll-Royce-engineered Bentley, the 3½ Liter, was recognized by W.O. Bentley as the best car ever to bear his name. It had already proven to be a strong seller, remaining in production when the 4¼ Liter joined it three years later. The 4¼ Liter in essence shared a chassis, gearbox, and rear axle with its smaller-engine sibling but provided improved performance, a broader torque band, more horsepower, and exceptionally silent operation at virtually any speed. The engine shared the dimensions of the Rolls-Royce 25/30 but employed a Bentley-specific crossflow overhead valve cylinder head with dual SU carburetors. The engine is mated to a four-speed synchromesh manual transmission, further displaying how approachable of a car the 4¼ is to drive. For just £50 more than the 3½ Liter, the 4¼ Liter was an obvious choice for buyers and it soon fully replaced the smaller engine car.

As with all Rolls-Royce’s and Bentley’s of the period, the 4¼ Liters were sent to one of the many standard coachbuilders the two companies used. Chassis number B147HM is a unique specimen, featuring a two-door "Top Hat" coupe body by the esteemed coachbuilder Freestone & Webb. The coachbuilder was known for their signature razor edge, Top Hat design, of which many 4¼’s received, but only in four-door versions. The car offered is the only two-door produced, distinguishing itself from its peers. Finished in two-tone grey and black with black wire wheels; the exterior is smart and sporty, as a Bentley should be.

Inside, the 4¼ Liter upholds the British luxury standard of the period. The interior features fabulously well-worn dark green leather seats, adding a touch of vintage charm and authenticity. Polished wood veneers and intricate detailing complete the cabin, providing a serene and comfortable environment. The spacious cabin lacks a backseat, save for a jump seat on the passenger side, making it ideal for touring with ample luggage space. Instrumentation is elegantly laid out, and attention to detail is evident in every aspect of the interior, making it a true pleasure to experience.

Ordered and delivered new to Miss GM Philcox of Sussex, B147HM spent a fair portion of its life in England. In October of 1945, the car made its way to Suffolk under the ownership of Mrs. Alan Nash, who seemingly sold the motorcar to a lawyer and teacher, N. Harrow Esq. The car was then relocated to London where it was offered for sale by Jack Olding & Co. The trail cools until 1974 when Charles Schmidt of Massillon, Ohio sold the car to Celestine Remlinger of the same town. The car remained in their possession until 2003 when it was acquired by the previous owner, a prominent collector of the marque and active Rolls-Royce Owners Club member.

B147HM has been cared for lovingly, especially by the previous owner. At some point in its life, our motorcar was restored, however, no historical documents can pinpoint an exact date. The car currently presents well and is mechanically even better. The adjustable hydraulic shock absorbers work marvelously via the steering wheel controls; the right-hand floor-mounted shifter, and transmission shifts wonderfully. The advantage of a synchromesh transmission truly sets itself above its competitors, allowing for effortless driving. Accompanying B147HM are the Derby factory build sheet, owner’s card, and other historical documents from the RROC.

Known as the Silent Sports Car, the 4¼ Liter provides drivers and their passengers with an experience of virtually silent, high-speed motoring. An attractive older restoration that has demonstrated its competence and quality by being driven but also diligently maintained. This is a connoisseur's Bentley 4¼ Liter, a gorgeous one-off coupe at its most elegant and dual-purpose best.

 

Offers welcome and trades considered 

 

$189,500

Stock number 7729

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