Bentley 3 1/2 Litre 1935
Chassis no. B65BN
Engine no. M4B0
•The only 'Derby' Bentley bodied by Corinthian
•Known ownership history
•Present family ownership since 1959
•Restored in the 1980s and again in the 2010s
The 'Derby' Bentley was, of course, an exclusively coachbuilt 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. Of the 2,442 examples manufactured (including the subsequent 4¼-Litre model) almost 50% were bodied by Park Ward. That offered here though, boasts streamlined drophead coupé coachwork in 'Art Deco' style by the little known firm of Corinthian. Based in Kilburn, North London, Corinthian Coachwork occupied the former premises of the Mayfair Carriage Company but bodied only three cars: two Lagondas and this Derby Bentley.
'B65BN' was delivered to Corinthian's premises on 20th September 1934. Publicity for the bodywork in the form of an advertisement appeared in The Motor magazine's edition of 16th October 1934, which was followed by an article on the completed car in its edition of 9th April 1935. Factory records show that 'B65BN' was fitted with an extended steering column, a modification that added £4 to the £1,100 list price. The Bentley was registered 'BYV 187', a London mark, which it retains.
Delivered new to its first owner, a Miss Phyllis Robins of London, on 14th September 1935, 'B65BN' passed to its second owner - one J. James of Stockton-on-Tees – on 7th December 1936. The Bentley then passed through the hands of three further custodians (details on file) before coming into the present family ownership in January 1959.
Used initially, the car was taken off the road in 1965, the coachwork having deteriorated, and remained in storage until 1984 when its restoration commenced. The body was restored by Peter Plunkett Automobile Services of Oldham and the chassis by Steve Owen of Market Weighton, while the engine was rebuilt by Bill Barrott of Beighton, Sheffield. A photographic record of the body restoration and details of the engine rebuild are on file. Fiennes Engineering of Clanfield, Oxfordshire overhauled the differential and rear brakes in 1999, and replaced the clutch in 2003 (invoices on file). In 2007 the Bentley was taken off the road again and remained unused until it was re-commissioned by Ken Lea in 2011. Ken Lea's detailed account of the car's history and the extensive re-commissioning undertaken may be found in the accompanying comprehensive history file, together with relevant invoices (perusal highly recommended). Total cost was £83,538. More recently (in 2018) marque specialists Frank Dale & Stepsons carried out a major service, which included overhauling the brakes, replacing one kingpin, and fitting five new Blockley tyres.
A lovely and unique Derby Bentley, elegantly bodied in 'Art Deco' style and known as 'The Corinthian', 'B65BN' is a guaranteed head-turner at any of the marque's 100th Anniversary celebrations planned for this year.
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