19-20 January 2017

Offered from a Private Collection

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Lot 248

1934 Bentley 3½-Litre Tourer

  • Chassis no. B90CR
  • Engine no. S7BJ

Sold for $66,000

105 bhp, 3,669 cc OHC inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 126 in.

  • Offered from a private collection
  • An early Derby Bentley with its original registration
  • Classic British four-seat tourer coachwork
  • Recently serviced

Walter Owen Bentley learned engineering at Clifton College, leaving at 16 to apprentice at the Great Northern Railway. It was during the Great War, however, that he began designing engines, working at Gwynne’s of Hammersmith. After the War, Bentley opened his own drawing office and rented a workshop. The first Bentley car was displayed at Olympia in October 1919, and deliveries began in 1921 from a new factory at Cricklewood.

Six-cylinder cars joined the range in 1926, with a 6½-Litre “Big Six.” This became the “Speed Six” in 1928, and a massive eight-litre six was shown at the London Motor Show in 1930. Unfortunately, financial troubles had emerged in the mid-1920s, and the company had been propped up by money from millionaire Woolf Barnato. In 1931, however, Barnato pulled his support and left Bentley foundering. Ultimately Rolls-Royce, Ltd., stepped in, and Bentley Motors became a wholly owned subsidiary.

Operations were moved from Cricklewood, London, to Rolls’ Derby works. Thus, the 1933–1939 cars are known as “Derby Bentleys.” Built first as 3½-Litre cars, with a pushrod overhead valve six of 3,669 cubic centimeters, they rode a 126-inch wheelbase and left the factory as bare chassis to be bodied by outside coachbuilders. Many of them were bodied by Park Ward, others by collegial coachbuilders like H.J. Mulliner, Hooper, or Gurney Nutting. However, a number of small coachbuilding firms also took their turns at clothing Bentley chassis.

This 3½-Litrr, chassis number B90CR, was sent to F.W. Plaxton Ltd. of Scarborough, Yorkshire. Established in 1919, Plaxton began building charabanc (motor coach) bodies, but by 1925 had ventured into passenger cars. Work on Rolls-Royce and Bentley chassis was occasional at most, making this car, in its original sedan style, very rare. Plaxton continued to build bus and coach bodies, which it continues today as part of Alexander Dennis Limited, the United Kingdom’s largest coachbuilder.

Chassis number B90CR was first registered in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, in 1934 as XG2929, a plate it still carries. The Plaxton body, however, has been consumed by time and replaced by a four-seat tourer configuration, somewhat reminiscent of the Vanden Plas-bodied cars that won at Le Mans in the 1920s. The craftsmanship is traditional, in aluminum panels over an ash frame, and finished off in British Racing Green. The clutch and wiring were replaced in the late 1990s, at which time turn signals were added for enhanced driving safety. Recently serviced, it is ready to enjoy.

Representing a fine opportunity to re-live open-air British-style motoring, this handsome Bentley comes with a tool kit and an owner’s handbook. It would undoubtedly be a superb tourer for a new owner’s collection.


Please note that upon further inspection this Bentley appears to be over-described in the catalogue and does not appear to be "immediately road worthy" and "ready for use" as described in the catalogue. We recommend a more thorough mechanical and safety inspection prior to any type of use on the street. Please speak with an RM Sotheby’s car specialist for any additional information. Also, the title is in transit.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more