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Car of the Month

More on Bentley in these books:

King: The Derby Built Bentleys 

BENTLEY 3˝ & 4Ľ Litre 1933-40 In Detail


Car of the Month - September 2019
Bentley 4¼ Litre, 1939, #B121MX
Fixed Head Coupé by H.J. Mulliner

Bentley 4 1/4 Liter

In July 1937 this Bentley 4 ¼ Litre, #B121MX, was delivered to Stuart C. Goodwin in Sheffield, England. H.J. Mulliner was the coachbuilder where the body inn the form of a Fixed Head Coupé had been manufactured; Design-No. was 6297, Body-No. 4693 was issued. de

Of particular interest is the fact that #B121MX was a chassis-number from the MR/MX-series which did become a favourite in collectors’ circles. Chassis-numbers ending on 'MR'or 'MX' are from a significant segment among the 1.241 cars from this model-series. Factory documents are listing with even numbers only #B2MR though #B200MR with a total of 100 plus with odd numbers only #B1MX thru #B205MEX with 101 cars. It is worth a note the manufacturer had complied with the self-imposed restriction of omitting the "non-lucky number 13" by neither listing chassis-numbers #B13MX nor #B113MX. A further anomaly from MX-series is the last car was listed with ‘EX’ letter combination. Insiders de-code that as a hint on an Experimental car; indeed this one previously had been used by the factory's test-department as a prototype before becoming "returned to series-standard" prior to sale. The exclusive feature of cars from the MR/MX-Series was such were so-called 'Overdrive'-models which separated from the basic design of Bentley 4 1/4 Litre by significant alterations as regards their technical layout.

Bentley 4 1/4 Liter

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Such were not merely modifications as regards ratios of the 4-speed gearbox that was operated via a gearlever positioned to the right side of the driver’s seat. The segment of 'Upper Crust' motor cars with powerful engines had suffered from a weak point when such motor cars were driven at high speed on the newly installed 'Autostradas' and 'Autobahnen' on the Continent. The engines were stressed beyond limits when driven continuously at high speed and severe engine failures did occur. For Bentley it was an enormous challenge (similar for other motor car manufacturers, too) to find a solution promptly rather than risking enormous damage to the marque's reputation. By considerable changes as regards ratios of gearbox and rear axle's differential ca. 9 % reduction of rpm at top speed was achieved; thus pistons and bearings did operate "within safe margins". To switch to a new tyre size of 6.50x17 instead of the previous 5.50x18 was an additional feature.

Bentley 4,25 Liter

Further up-dates separated Bentley 4¼ Litre of MR/MX Series from the basic variant. A completely new steering was fitted – for Bentley Motors it was a first not to use a unit built in-house but to accept one from a specialised supplier. The radiator sported vanes fixed in their position rather than to be adjustable as hitherto. Coolant temperature was controlled by a thermostat mounted between cylinder head and radiator; for emergency a bypass was installed. Centralised chassis-lubrication with a reservoir mounted on the firewall and operated by a foot pump had already been an optional extra for quite some time – this now became series-standard on 'Overdrive'-models.

Eith a production-figure of a mere 201 examples from MR/MX-Series it is hard to fathom the enormous expenses for alterations would have been tolerable from a strictly economical point of view. – However this was the clever investment that saved the positive image of the marque.

Bentley 4 1/4 Liter

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