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Car of the Month Selection

Car of the Month - December 1998
Bentley 3 ½ Litre, 1934, #B57BN, Park Ward Sports Saloon

Bentley 3 ½ Litre

When delivered in October 1934 the price of this Bentley 3 ½ Litre with a four door Sports Saloon body by Park Ward was £1,460. Following a most detailed ground-up restoration the Bentley is now in "as new" condition. Hence its value according to present market conditions has risen to a certain degree.
Bentley 3 ½ LitreThere is the question of course, what does one receive for that amount of money? A chassis cum engine with a quality second to none as regards comfort and roadholding, performance and handling. At their time setting a standard which was the envy of competitors. As regards the coachwork by Park Ward this was immensely strong and rattle-proof due to that company's patented aluminium front and centre pillars in combination with extensive use of steel for the bottom sides and arches, for the crossmembers, footwells etc. Most other coachbuilder's still used techniques, which dated back to the era of horse-drawn vehicles, i.e. a wooden skeleton was clad with panels. In general that was no minor work, however it resulted for example in rather thick pillars to gain sufficient stability. If proper care of the wood was neglected or the skeleton for years exposed to the influence of damp or water, the structure weakened at an alarming rate.
Bentley 3 ½ Litre, Interior rearBentley 3 ½ Litre, Interior front

Bentley 3 ½ Litre, Dashboard

As regards quality of body and interior the standards of Rolls-Royce had to be complied with, as the Bentley 3 ½ Litre was the first Bentley built by Rolls-Royce after the marque had been taken over. Cars were built at the Derby factory side by side with R-R Phantom II and R-R 20/25 H.P. It is a fact that the Bentley's engine was developed from that of the R-R 20/25 H.P. though it was a more powerful unit due its specially developed crossflow-cylinderhead, re-profiled camshaft, twin SU carburettors and some fine tuning.

All in all the Bentley 3 ½ Litre was a tremendously fine design and basis for a most promising future. The press left no doubt that the highly advanced Park Ward body did harmonize extremely well with the basic chassis and engine as delivered by the factory. "Grace, comfort and superb finish" were the key words when Great Britain's leading motor magazine "The Motor" in their issue from 20th November 1934 published a report about "The Park Ward Bentley Saloon".

The owner of this "Car of the Month December" has spent thousands of hours of work over several years on a ground-up restoration - and as an engineer and master-craftsman he was the right man for this job. The result is perfect down to the least detail - and it is exactly this Bentley with chassis number #B57BN which is shown in colour on page 74 of the new book Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars - From the Dawn of the 20th Century into the New Millennium.


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