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Car of the Month

More on Bentley in these books:

Hull: Inside the Rolls-Royce and Bentley Styling Department 



Car of the Month - July 2019
Bentley 4 ¼ Litre, 1938, #B187LE
Sedanca Coupe by Gurney Nutting

Bentley 4,25 Litre

A coachbuilder held in high esteem during the 1920s and 1930s has been J. Gurney Nutting & Co. A key factor for that company's success have been the designers A.F. McNeil and J.P. Blatchley. The latter had started under the company's chief designer A.F. McNeil and at fairly young age became promoted to the top position after McNeil in the late 30s had left to take up a position with James Young, i.e. a competitor.

Gurney Nutting's Design No. 222 dates from a period when both were employed at that company. A fair guess is that both might have a fair share in the elegant creation? The remarkable feature of a Sedanca Coupé is the 2-door body's top of which the front partition opens, but the rear hood is fixed. Such it is different from a 3-Position Drophead Coupé with a hood folding all the way down though offering the alternative of a “Sedanca position”, too). It is anyone's guess how much of that solution was dictated by the aspect that to roll back the front was easier and thus more practical than to put a complete folding top all the way down (and up again) in fine weather.

Bentley 4,25 Litre

From a variety of drafts of Sedanca Coupés provided by Blatchley to London dealer Jack Barclay one was accepted and built. Jack Barclay extensively promoted this design and went so far to claim it was a "Barclay Design". There wasn't much opposition by either Blatchley and/or J. Gurney Nutting as they didn't risk to haggle with a major customer. Sufficient to say that Blatchley decided henceforth to sign his design-drawings "JPB" instead of "JB" to make sure the initials could no longer be mis-interpreted as standing for Jack Barclay.

Bentley 4,25 Litre

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Admiration for Blatchley's creation was reflected by this to become the sole Gurney Nutting Derby Bentley design to appear in a Bentley Motors company brochure. Design 222 did appear, too, in an advertisement by dealer Franco Brittanic Autos, Paris, which lead a few to believe this might be coachwork of French origin.

What was entered in the factory records of #B187LE is somewhat confusing. This Bentley 4 ¼ Litre has not been sold originally via London dealer George Newman to his customer Gomez Waddington. The car instead was intended to be exported to Cuba – and after that decision was cancelled the car was bought by Jack Barclay 'direct' from George Newman (another source states Barclay acquired the car from Waddington and that transaction „counts as a cancellation"). All that happened while the chassis was still with  Gurney Nutting with construction of the Sedanca Coupé in progress. The coachbuilder finished the job 9th September 1938 and allocated body-number 1829. #B187LE was painted smoke blue with a fine grey coachline, interior was grey leather. Extras included an electric rear blind, two extra driving mirrors, a canister covering the spare wheel, wheel discs, built in rear number plate, a rear bumper -  and even fitted suitcases made exactly to match the boot's dimensions.

Bentley 4,25 Litre

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