Image credits: © Bentley.

1938 Bentley 4¼-Liter news, pictures, specifications, and information
Drophead Coupe
Coachwork: Vanden Plas
The Silent Sports Car
Bentley Motors Ltd. was established by the legendary W.O. Bentley in Cricklewood, near London, in 1920. With its outstanding performance and many race wins, including a string of victories at LeMans, the Bentley was a very popular car.

Unfortunately, the company's finances were never solid, and in 1931 the firm was in deep trouble. Napier made a bid for the company assets, but it was Rolls-Royce that ultimately prevailed and became the owner of Bentley. Rolls-Royce introduced their version of the Bentley in 1933, with a 3.7-liter pushrod engine. By 1936, however, the engine size had been increased to 4.25 liters, primarily to handle the increasingly heavier coachwork.

Only 1,234 4.25-Liter Bentleys were built between 1936 and 1939 when it was replaced by the Mark V. Many bodies (such as this one) were built of steel instead of the former aluminum over ash frame construction.

The car shown is a 1938 model. It has a drophead coupe body, built by well known coachbuilder, VandenPlas. The phrase 'drophead coupe' is a British term that simply means convertible coupe.

After its manufacture this Bentley was retained by Bentley Motors as a factory demonstrator until 1941, when it was sold to Barclays as a used car. This Bentley was road tested by the British magazines 'The Motor' and 'The Autocar;' a writer for the latter claimed a top speed of 107 mph.
Derby Drophead Coupe
Coachwork: Mulliner
Shortly after the armistice in 1919, WO Bentley, together with a group including Frank Burgess (formerly of Humber) and Harry Varley (formerly of Vauxhall), set about designing a high quality sporting tourer, for production under the name Bentley.

The first Bentley Motors Ltd was founded in 1919, and between then and 1931, WO created the motors cars which became a legend. It wasn't until 1928 that Woolf Barnato became a fully-fledged part of the group of rich amateur drivers known as the Bentley Boys. Bentley racing proved highly successful in the late 1920's including victories at Brookland and in 1929 the Team's best ever result were at LeMans, with Bentleys placing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th. In 1931 Bentley was acquired by Rolls-Royce and thereafter the company focused mainly on passenger car production.

This concealed Drophead Coupe was built by H.J. Mulliner and is one of only five built in 1938. The reputation for speed and fine handling accorded the 3-liter was even more enhanced with the 4 Litre and, as before, leading coachbuilders provided a variety of saloon, drophead coupe and touring bodywork; around a third of all customers, however, opted for Park Ward's saloon, this style being the closest Rolls-Royce came to series production pre-war.

From the Rolls-Royce factory in Derby the second model to bear the Bentley label was the Bentley 4¼ Litre. Within a short period, sales of the 3½ Litre declined and in fact the Bentley 4¼-Litre had become its substitute. The MR and MX chassis series introduced in 1939 were the final development of this model. Features such as overdrive top gear as standard and improved white metal bearings made the car idea, then and now, for unstressed long distance Continental touring.

A total of 1,241 Derby 4¼ Litre Bentley's were built between 1936 and 1939.
Designer: Park Ward
This car is one of 1241 4 1/4 Liter Bentley's built between 1936 and 1939. It sold for $7,200.

The body, like all Bentley bodies were custom built, this one by Park-Ward. This construction has the front doors hinged at the front and the rear doors hinged at the rear and no column where they meet.

The chassis is all steel and carries a six cylinder in-line overhead cam engine with 4,257 cc, 12 volt electrical system, electric fuel pump, twin S-U Carburetors and servo assisted four wheel mechanical brakes.

Unusual features include foot pedal operated centralized lube system, sliding sun roof and shock absorbers with adjustable pressure and a 4-speed transmission.

The current owner acquired the car in 1969.
Derby Drophead Coupe
Coachwork: Carlton Carriage Company
The Bentley 4 1/2 liter came into existence to fill a void left by the 3-liter and the 6.5-liter variants. The 3-liter suffered from underperformance while the 6.5-liter was unsafe for the roads. The 6.5-liter was powerful, and with poor road-conditions often caused tires to fail quickly. The solution was the Bentley 4.5-liter; a vehicle that had enough power to carry the vehicle down the road at a good pace. The chassis consists of channel-steel, front and rear suspension by semi-elliptic leaf springs, and 4-wheel drum brakes.

Production amounted to a total of 733 cars of all body styles. Fifty-four cars were equipped with the famous supercharged engine, 'Blower Bentleys,' built by the race driver Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin as a private venture - against W.O. Bentley's wishes.

A rare, 'Derby Bentley,' this lovely Cabriolet is one of 200 and has a coach-built body by the well-respected, Carlton company. For thiry years prior to the Silverstone's purchase, the President of the Rolls-Royce Club of America owned the car.
Coachwork: Vanvooren
Chassis Num: B132LS
Engine Num: F-4-BH
1937 coach built Vanvooren of Paris in 1937 for Lucie Vogt. First registered in Paris 470RLS in February 1938 Lucie Vogt was born in 1911 at Niederbruck, North Eastern France in a very rich family, her grandfather Joseph Vogt was the owner of the potassium minues 'Kali sainte Therese' later to become the 'Mines Domaniales Des Potasses D'Alsace'. In 1929 at the age of 18 she obtained her drivers license and her mother bought her a Citroen and later a Talbot and her younger brother Pierre was given a Tecla. There were dozens of cars in the family, most Bugattis. In 1933 she bought herself a Bugatti Type 55, 2.3 liter which she exchanged later for a Type 50, 4.9 liter supercharged. In 1936, at age of 25 she bought a Bugatti 57S but had many problems with this car and the after sales service was very poor, she decided to order a Bentley from Franco-Britannique in Paris, the importers for Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars in France. She had the car coach built by Vanvorren in Paris, a two door fixed head coupe with the particularity of having a custode windows so that her dogs, who don't always sit in the back would not be so scared of traffic. The car was delivered to her in February 1938 and she was very pleased in the way Franco-Britannique did their work. They were curteous and friendly, quite a change from what she had been used to with Bugatti. The car was hidden away during World War II and in 1945 she told it to Maurice Baumgartner of Lausanne who had it registered in Switzerland VD 22607 on the 7th of December 1947. Five years later he sold the Bentley to professor Alfred Tissieres also of Luanne, who had it registered VD 28467 on the 31st of December 1945. It was then purchased by Russel H Peck of Cambridge, Massachusetts on the 17th of October 1957 who sold it to Eric M. Gelotte of sandwich, Massachusetts on the 21st of October 1960. He kept it for over 44 years before parting with it to Richard Gorman of North Miami in 2004.
Coachwork: Vanvooren
Chassis Num: B132LS
Engine Num: F-4-BH
This 1938 Bentley 4¼-Litre Vanvooren Coupe was offered for sale at the 2007 Blackhawk Collection Exhibit held at the Pebble Beach Concours. It carried a price tag of $350,000.

First registered in Paris 1937 for Lucie Vogt, who was born into a wealthy French Mining family. She owned many different cars, including a Bugatti T57. After recieving the car from the Parisian Bentley dealer - Franco-Britannique. The car was hidden away during the war and in 1945 she sold it to Maurice Baumgarten. Five years later he sold it to Alfred Tissieres also of Switzerland. The car next came to the States wîth the new owner being Russel Peck of Massachusetts. He kept it for over 44 years before selling it to Richard Gorman of North Florida in 2004. The car comes wîth a set of period 16' Borrani wheels.

Source - Blackhawk Collection
Pourtout Coupe
Coachwork: Pourtout
Designer: Georges Paulin
This 4.25 Litre Bentley built in 1939 was planned by Greek shipping tycoon, Andre Embericos and built in Paris, under the guidance of the company's development engineers. The coachwork, designed by Georges Paulin, was built by Marcel Pourtout. Comfort was sacrificed in order to obtain a shape as near as possible to the aerodynamic ideal. This 4.25 Litre Bentley was fitted with a high ratio back axle and a four-speed gearbox with overdrive. After having driven 100,000 miles, this car then competed in the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1949, 1950 and 1951, and it lapped Montlhery at 114.8 mph. Its best result at LeMans was a sixth place finish in 1949 when driven by Soltan Hay and Tommy Wisdom.
Drophead Coupe
Coachwork: Cockshoot
This drophead coupe is the only one built by Cockshoot for the 4.25-litre Bentley chassis and the second to last Cockshoot body built on a Bentley chassis at the Derby factory.

The Bentley 4.25-liter chassis reflected further refinements including the engine, a gearbox with overdrive and independent front suspension and, beginning in 1938, Marles steering. The 4.25-liter motor had been introduced in 1936 as coachwork became heavier - but also to maintain the marque's sporting reputation.

A Bentley drophead coupe was featured in the James Bond film 'Never Say Never Again.'
Fixed Head Coupe
Chassis Num: B-1-LE
Engine Num: T6BT
Chassis B-1-LE was sent to de Villars in Levallois, Paris on February 22nd of 1938. The car had been ordered by Julio Villarejo of Paris for Alfredo Mihura, whose Paris address was listed as the Hotel George V. The car was ordered with a speedometer measured in kilometers, the petrol gauge in litres, a 22-gallon fuel tank and wheel covers.

Factory paper-work states the configuration as a four-door, four-place saloon by de Villars. Today, the car is a two-door, four place coupe body. The coachbuilder is not known, though the body work looks period correct, suggesting an error in the factory paperwork or a change of body style required by the owner after production of the car.

In the mid-1960s, the car was purchased by a doctor in Barcelona, Spain. The doctor kept the car for the next 45 years before passing it on to the current owner in 2008.

In 2010, this vehicle was offered for sale at the Pebble Beach Auction presented by Gooding & Company. The car was estimated to sell for $250,000 - $325,000. It would leave the auction unsold.
By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2010
Pourtout Coupe
Coachwork: Pourtout
Designer: Georges Paulin


One of the rarest and most valuable Bentleys in the world, the 4¼-Litre 'Embiricos' special, is making an historic appearance at the marque's home in Crewe. Fresh from taking part in the Louis Vuitton 'Serenissima Run' in Venice and featuring at the Le Mans Classic as part of the Bentley lineup, this magnificent car takes pride of place in the Lineage Showroom at the firm's Pyms Lane factory until September.

Throughout the 1930s Bentley Motors, then owned by Rolls-Royce, was producing fast, refined and well-built Grand Tourers from its Derby factory. While many customers sent their chassis to traditional coachbuilders such as Vanden Plas, H.J. Mulliner or Park Ward for elegant bodywork, enthusiasts from across the Channel, where the roads were longer and faster, were eager to explore the new world of aerodynamics. With the support of the factory, one such owner decided to investigate the possibility of a streamlined high-performance Bentley. The result was the most famous Bentley of the Derby era.

André Embiricos was a wealthy Greek racing driver living in Paris. Walter Sleator, the company's Paris agent, put him in touch wîth Georges Paulin, a designer working for coachbuilders Pourtout Carrossier. Únder Paulin's guidance Pourtout produced a strikingly sleek, aerodynamic body for a 4¼-Litre Derby Bentley that would be suitable for fast touring and track records alike. To keep weight down the fastback body wîth split rear window was crafted in Duralumin, an age-hardenable aluminium alloy.

The 'Embiricos' Bentley fulfilled all the criteria for a Bentley high performance grand tourer, achieving a timed 114.64 mph (184.5 km/h) over an hour at Brooklands, yet being civilised enough for Embiricos to use as a road car. Embiricos sold his unique Bentley late in 1939 to H.S.F. Hay who raced it in three post-war Le Mans 24-hour races, achieving a commendable 6th place in 1949.

Although a one-off, reaction to the Embiricos Bentley encouraged the company to explore more streamlined styles for future production models. In 1939 Bentley designer Ivan Evernden worked wîth Paulin on a sleek Mark V prototype called Corniche. Únfortunately it was in France when WWII broke out and destroyed during a bombing raid on Dieppe while awaiting shipment to Britain. Post-war, many of the lessons of the Embiricos Bentley reached fruition in the glorious lines of the 1952 R Type Continental, and as such continue to be reflected in the iconic shape of today's Continental GT coupe.

Richard Charlesworth, Director of Royal and VIP Relations and Head of the Bentley Heritage Collection, commented:

'It is an honour for Bentley to exhibit this unique Bentley for the first time, thanks to the generosity of its esteemed owner. Its sleek form was extremely advanced for the time, and its DNA can still be seen in modern Bentley coupes today. We are lòòking forward to showing the Embiricos to our factory visitors, and to the public at the upcoming Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance.'

Source - Bentley
Drophead Coupe
Coachwork: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: B153LE
Engine Num: G8BH
The first Rolls-Royce-built Bentley was the 3.5-Liter model. By early 1936, Bentley was offering a larger displacement chassis, the 4.25-Litre, to help offset the weight gains and subsequent loss of performance.

This Drop Head Coupe was completed in late 1938 and delivered to Major J. Workman of Belfast, Ireland. The coachwork was done by Vanden Plas and powered by a 4257cc overhead valve 6-cylinder engine with Twin SU carburetors and 125 horsepower. The car was finished in gray with chrome moldings with a gray leather interior and hood material.

Years later, the car was in the care of D. Aston Kyle of Middlesex, England. By 1971 it was in the hands of Carl W. Mumm, Jr. of Newport Beach, California. By 1978, it was in the care of Richard E. Straman, also of Newport Beach. In 1979, the Bentley won Second in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, and the following year won First in Class. It won a First in Class at the RROC Silverado Meet, a Second in Class at Hillsborough and a Second in Class at the RROC Annual meet. It also has a CCCA national First Prize badge affixed to the car's cowl.

In 1998, the car was sold to the current owner. The car has completed two Pebble Beach Motoring Classics. It returned to the show field at Pebble Beach following the 2002 Motoring Classic.

The car currently wears an older restoration. The 4.25-Liter has been upgraded with an overdrive. There is a four-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel drum brakes.

In 2012, the car was offered for sale at the Pebble Beach auction presented by Gooding & Company. The car was estimated to sell for $150,000 - $250,000. Unfortunately, a buyer willing to satisfy the car's reserve was not found and it would leave the auction unsold.
By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2012
Drophead Coupe
Coachwork: Mulliner
Chassis Num: B92LS
Engine Num: G8BG
Sold for $341,000 at 2013 RM Auctions.
This 1938 Bentley 4.25 was bodied by H.J. Mulliner and features a unique one-off disappearing top. The car was initially sold by the famous Rolls-Royce/Bentley dealer Jack Barclay of London, England. Their emblem remains attached to the front bumper.

This car is believed to have participated in the 1939 Royal Automobile Club (RAC) Brighton Rally and is featured in Johnnie Green's book 'BENTLEY Fifty Years of the Marque.'

Only 2,141 4.25 W.O Bentleys were designed and manufactured. They were constructed between March of 1936 and May of 1939.
Drophead Coupe
Coachwork: Vanden Plas
The current owner has had possession of this car for over 42 years. This vehicle has a Vanden Plas six place convertible body, specially built to the original owners specifications. It is fitted with a rumble seat and is a 'one-off' design, commissioned by Capt. Douglas Krauss in 1937.

The date of its first registration is May, 1938 in the UK (License No. ELB 3), and featured in Autocar Magazine at that time. Following the Second World War, the car was shipped to Australia by its 2nd owner, the sister of the other Directors of Penguin Books of London. The third owner, Kenneth Hoskins, had the car fitted with power steering under the guidance of the Rolls-Royce factory in the UK.
All-Weather Tourer
Coachwork: Thrupp and Maberly
Chassis Num: B137LE
Engine Num: C8BL
Sold for $225,500 at 2013 RM Auctions.
The 'Derby Bentley' was the 3 1/2 liter, which was based upon the Rolls-Royce 20/25 chassis but with a high-performance engine with crossflow head, higher compression ratio, twin SU carburetors, and a re-profiled camshaft. The engine was increased in 1936 to 4.25 liters by using the new 25/30 Rolls-Royce engine. In this guise, the 'silent sports car' finally found its niche.

This All-Weather Tourer is chassis B37LE and is an 'LE' specification chassis, and one of only 100 produced. The top speed is not as high as the later 'LX' series cars, which were equipped with overdrive, but many drivers agree that the gears on the 'LE' are spaced more tightly together, making the car considerably more comfortable to drive at speeds below 50 mph.

This car was originally owned by J.T. Johnson who had the chassis delivered to Thrupp & Maberly for the bodywork. It is a four-door, four-passenger convertible tourer with a fabric top that lies neatly when folded for a clean appearance. Johnson accepted delivery in June 1939.

The car currently retains its original bodywork, chassis, and engine. It has a side-mounted Continental touring spare and finished in period-correct deep blue over black, with blue leather upholstery and walnut trim. In the front are imposing headlamps, driving lamp, and accessory horn, as well as a nearly complete tool kit.

The 4257cc overhead valve six-cylinder engine is fitted with twin SU carburetors and develops 126 horsepower. There is a four-speed manual gearbox, a wheelbase that measures 126 inches, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes.
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2013
Drophead Coupe
Coachwork: Mulliner
Chassis Num: B92LS
Engine Num: G8BG
Sold for $341,000 at 2013 RM Auctions.
The 4¼-Litre was the second Bentley-badged model, produced after Rolls-Royce acquired Bentley Motors in 1931. The first was the 3½-Litre, which shared many components with the Rolls-Royce 20/25. As roadways improved, it became clear that a more powerful version of the 3.5-liter would be needed for reliable, day-long, high-speed touring. The company considered supercharging the 3.5-liter model, but bench-testing proved disappointing. Bearings wore out quickly, and torque delivery was inconsistent. Instead, the company focused their efforts on increasing engine capacity. Bore size increased from 3¼ inches to 3½ inches resulting in a 4,257-cubice centimeter engine. Bearings were upgraded from 'white metal' to a new aluminum/tin alloy for the main and big ends. Larger valves, a larger oil sump, bigger carburetors, and longer air silencers were also fitted to the new 4¼-liter engine.

The engine was offered as an option on the last series 3½-Litre Bentleys. By 1936, the GA-series 4¼-Litre car was launched. The speed-related hydraulic damping system, introduced with the 4¼, provided a more stable ride and crisper handling.

Chassis B92LS
The original owner of this car specified Dunlop tires and that the car was to be built for 'UK Town and Touring' use. The body style is a disappearing top, drophead coupe that was designed and built by H.J. Mulliner and given the term 'concealed head.' This car is one of one hundred and two 4¼-Litre Bentley chassis bodied by the firm. Most were saloons with about 15 being drophead coupes. It is not clear how many of those 15 were built with the concealed head design.

The first owner of this car was Ernest Taylor who took delivery in Guildford, Surrey, in 1937. It was later sold to Paul Jameson, who kept it in England until 1970, when it was exported to the U.S. and sold to William Sherman, in Jamestown, New York. The car remained with Mr. Sherman until 1975 when U.S. Coast Guard Captain John Faigle, of Governor's Island, New York, bought it.

The car has since been treated to a restoration resulting in a class award at the 2013 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2014
Bentley Motors was purchased by Rolls-Royce in 1931. One of the first of the Bentley vehicles produced after this merge was the 1933 3-1/2 Liter, a vehicle similar to the Rolls Royce 20/25. Bentley automobiles personified racing and the 3 1/2 Liter vehicle followed this tradition. It had a more powerful engine than its 20/25 counterpart. This had been achieved by adding a second carburetor and modification of the compression ratio.

Rolls Royce introduced the 25/30 in 1936 and Bentley introduced its counterpart, the 4 1/4 Liter. The Bentley featured 2 SU carburetors and a naturally aspirated straight-six engine producing 125 horsepower. It could achieve sixty mph in around fourteen seconds with the top speed just below 100 mph. The front-engine designed was matted to a four-speed manual gearbox and drove the rear wheels. Production lasted from 1936 through 1939 during which over 1240 examples were produced. This was the most vehicles of a single series Bentley had ever produced up to this time.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2014
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Famous Bentley 4¼-Litre 'Embiricos' Special Makes Star Appearance At Crewe Factory
One of the rarest and most valuable Bentleys in the world, the 4¼-Litre 'Embiricos' special, is making an historic appearance at the marque's home in Crewe. Fresh from taking part in the Louis Vuitton 'Serenissima Run' in Venice and featuring at the Le Mans Classic as part of the Bentley lineup, this magnificent car takes pride of place in the Lineage Showroom at the firm's Pyms Lane factory until September. Throughout the 1930s Bentley Motors, then owned by Rolls-Royce, was producing fast,...[Read more...]
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Famous Bentley 4¼-Litre 'Embiricos' Special Makes Star Appearance At Crewe Factory
One of the rarest and most valuable Bentleys in the world, the 4¼-Litre 'Embiricos' special, is making an historic appearance at the marque's home in Crewe. Fresh from taking part in the Louis Vuitton 'Serenissima Run' in Venice and featuring at the Le Mans Classic as part of the Bentley lineup, this magnificent car takes pride of place in the Lineage Showroom at the firm's Pyms Lane factory until September. Throughout the 1930s Bentley Motors, then owned by Rolls-Royce, was producing fast,...[Read more...]

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