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1935 3 1/2-Litre Bentley

Although Rolls-Royce's acquisition of Bentley Motors in 1931 robbed the latter of its independence, it did at least ensure the survival of the Bentley name. Launched in 1933, the first of the 'Derby Bentleys,' as they would come to be known, continued the marque's sporting associations but in a manner even more refined than before. Even W O Bentley himself acknowledged that the 3½-Litre model was the finest ever to bear his name. Based on the contemporary Rolls-Royce 20/25hp, the 3½-Litre Bentley was slightly shorter in the wheelbase and employed a tuned (115bhp) twin-SU-carburettor version of the former's overhead-valve six. Add to this already excellent package an all-synchromesh four-speed gearbox and servo-assisted brakes. The result was a vehicle offering the driver effortless sports car performance in almost absolute silence. As it was swiftly dubbed, 'The Silent Sports Car had few peers as a tireless long-distance tourer, combining as it did traditional Rolls-Royce refinement with Bentley performance and handling.

The 'Derby' Bentley was, of course, an exclusively coach-built automobile and as befitted its sporting nature was almost always fitted with owner-driver saloon or drophead coupé coachwork, the 'standard' designs being the work of Park Ward Ltd. Of the 2,442 examples manufactured (including the subsequent 4¼-Litre model) Rolls-Royce's in-house coachbuilder bodied almost 50%.

Delivered new in May 1935 to Col Charles Julius Hirst of Renfrewshire, chassis number 'B80DG' originally carried two-door, drophead coupé coachwork by Hooper & Co. Subsequently, the car was re-bodied with the current timber-framed and paneled shooting brake coachwork by Jones Bros of Bayswater, West London, in 1937. The current owner purchased the Bentley in the USA from a gentleman who had inherited it from his grandfather, the latter having bought it from another gentleman in Canada.