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Introduction
This web site is dedicated to one model of motor car from one manufacturer built between 1933 and 1939, in three main variants: the 3.5 litre, the 4.25 litre and the 4.25 litre Overdrive Derby Bentleys. Originally 2,422 examples were built. Current research indicates that some 1,770 of these remain extant over 60 years later, a survival rate of 72.5%, remarkable for cars that had to live through World War II, not only in the UK but also in Europe.
The Chassis
The Derby Bentley is so called because it was the first Bentley produced under the ownership of Rolls Royce from their factory in Derby, alongside their smaller horse power 20/25 and 25/30 cars, from which it was itself derived. The Bentley was far more than badge engineering, however, unlike many of the post war models. Rolls Royce acquired the assets of Bentley Motors from the receiver in 1931, aware of the magnificent sporting heritage that had been quickly earned by Bentley, principally by five victories at Le Mans, culminating in those of 1927 -1930. The first Bentley to be produced by Rolls Royce had a considerably more powerful engine than its sibling and an excellent chassis. While enjoying all the benefits of the quality of engineering of its Rolls Royce parent, the Derby Bentley also enjoyed all the reliability and sporting heritage of Bentley. Thus was born "The Silent Sports Car" (as it was called in contemporary sales literature). These Bentleys are far different from either the Vintage Bentley or the small horsepower Rolls Royce.
The Bodies
These motor cars had their chassis and engine built by Bentley and delivered to a coachbuilder of the customer's choice for coachwork to be built to the particular specification of the customer. It is widely acknowledged that the 1930s was the final flowering of the coachbuilder's art, when the best motor manufacturers still supplied chassis only, providing suitable platforms for the coachbuilders, and when the coachbuilders themselves had perfected the techniques required to body motor cars.

Derby Bentleys exhibit some of the finest products of the finest coachbuilders of the 1930's, with the more sporting and less formal Bentley radiator allowing the designers to develop flowing lines, often of unsurpassed beauty.
An Analysis of the Survivors
The very high survival rate of Derby Bentleys can contribute to a lower perception of value, with familiarity breeding a certain lessening of consideration, if not actual contempt. Such an attitude belies a superficial understanding of the situation.
  • Of the 2,422 built, nearly half were bodied by Park Ward. The majority of these received standard bodies, either of wood and aluminium or all steel. As a result, many of the surviving Derby Bentleys carry examples of such coachwork which, although of excellent quality, cannot be described as having appeal to a collector by reason of rarity.
  • Not all the products of Park Ward or the other coachbuilders can be described as attractive, at least to the modern eye.
  • There are outstandingly beautiful and often unique examples from such firms as Barker, Freestone & Webb, Gurney Nutting, Hooper, Mann Egerton, Mulliner (both A and HJ), Park Ward, Rippon, Thrupp & Maberly, James Young, Vanden Plas and Windovers in England; Figoni, Kellner, Saoutchik and Vanvooren in Paris; and smaller concerns elsewhere in UK and Europe.
If a rigorous assessment is undertaken, it becomes clear that there are far fewer surviving Derby Bentleys that are both unusual and strikingly beautiful, whether of the much favoured open top styles or the saloons or closed coupes. Perhaps 25% to 30% of the 1,770 survivors might fall into this category. These Favoured 500 are then both Rare and Beautiful. If you have a rare and beautiful Derby Bentley you are fortunate indeed! As owners and admirers, we unashamedly want to promote the Derby Bentley in all its forms. We invite owners worldwide to assist us in making this as comprehensive a resource as possible, by supplying us with photographs and histories of their motor cars for display on this site.

Please write to info@DerbyBentley.com for further details.
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