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Car of the Month

More Bentleys in these books:

Bennet: Bentley Continental

Roßfeldt: From the dawn of the century ...

Car of the Month - January 2003
Bentley 4 1/2 Litre, 1937, #BC42LBY
Le Mans Style Open Tourer

Bentley 4,5 Liter

Most of those who are interested in the marque do know that all Bentleys may be divided into four eras - Vintage Bentleys (1919-1931), Derby Bentleys (1933-1939), Crewe Bentleys (1946-2002) and New Bentleys (from 2003). But there is no rule without exception, in this case the "RC-Series" built during the second half of the 30ies but classified - even by the Bentley Drivers' Club - as Vintage Bentleys. Reportedly the very last "genuine W.O. Bentley" (synonym for Cricklewood- or Vintage Bentley) was the Bentley 4 ½ Litre with chassis number #RC45, because this one was the last ever delivered to its new owner.

When Bentley was taken over by Rolls-Royce in 1931 part of the deal was the acquisition of a vast amount of new and reconditioned parts from W.O.'s company. Not much from that mountain of spares was sold during the follwing years - testimony perhaps of the perfect quality of Cricklewood Bentleys, that didn't require spare parts frequently. An attempt to turn the unassembled parts into much needed capital was to offer complete motor cars. In 1936 second hand Bentley 3 Litre motor cars became subject to a thorough overhaul with engines and chassis dismantled and rebuilt incorporating new parts as necessary. The cars were then given new chassis serial numbers (RC = ReConditioned). They were sold - all in all 4 cars - after having been fitted with new 4-seater bodies by Vanden Plas.

As a second step followed that 6 completely new - from chassis frame to the last bolt and screw - Bentley 4 ½ Litre were made. These were a combination from the existing stock of parts, hence the specification differed from the original one. Gearboxes were from Bentley 4 ½ Litre Blower stock. Rear axles had been taken off the shelfs for Blower Bentleys as well as from shelfs with Bentley 6 ½ Litre parts. Front axles originally had been produced for Bentley 4 ½ Litre and Bentley 4 Litre respectively. The steering from the Bentley 4 Litre was adapted to the 4 ½ Litre standard steering arm length. All the cars were clothed with coachwork by Vanden Plas (with the exception of one body by Corsica) and handed over to customers with a five years guarantee.

All components of the cars from the RC-Series were designed and probably manufactured prior to 1930 - the period of the Vintage Bentley. Thus these cars are classfied as such. The last one was #RC45 - and that is up for sale now. The car took part in a variety of demanding rallyes - including Mille Miglia in Italy - during recent years and is in immaculate condition. Should you consider to take her into your custody an enquiry should be directed to: 
Horst Koch,  Schloss-Str. 2-4, 74028 Heilbronn, Germany
Fax: +49 - (0)7066 - 4252.

(Photos courtesy of Horst Koch, Heilbronn)
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