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Motor Car Sale, H&H Sales Limited (13 September 2006)

While not quite the fastest nor most technologically advanced sportscar of the mid 1930s, the Bentley 3.5 Litre was arguably the most refined and best built. Developed by Rolls-Royce (following their takeover of Walter Owen Bentley's company in 1931), the model was based on a beautifully wrought 'double dropped' chassis frame equipped with nicely damped semi-elliptic leaf-sprung suspension and servo-assisted four-wheel drum brakes. Fed by twin SU carburettors, its 3669cc OHV straight-six engine was allied to a four-speed manual gearbox incorporating synchromesh on 3rd and 4th gears. Exhibiting a commendably low centre of gravity and consequently fine handling, the Derby Bentley also boasted a circa 95mph top speed. However, it was not so much the car's performance but more the way manner in which it was delivered that captivated the contemporary motoring press. One of two works demonstrators (or 'Trials' machines) built for the model's public unveiling at the August 1933 Ascot Races, 'ALU 323' was the very first Derby Bentley to be registered. Subsequently retained by the factory as a 'press car', it was road tested by many eminent journalists and personalities of the day including Sir Malcolm Campbell (see above quote) before being released into private hands the following year. Quite possibly one of the select troop responsible for earning the Bentley 3.5 Litre its 'Silent Sportscar' soubriquet, 'ALU 323' was bodied as a four-door Sports Saloon by Park Ward. A conspicuously elegant design (as one might expect given its duties), it featured a rakishly sweeping wing line, generous running boards, fine accent mouldings and a rear-mounted spare wheel. Although, 'ALU 323' has been the subject of extensive refurbishment since entering the current ownership some seven years ago, we are informed that a guiding emphasis was put on "retaining as much originality as possible". Thus, whilst it was treated to a new ash frame and repaint in its original colour, the Park Ward coachwork is said to comprise "much of the original aluminium panelling including the wings and bonnet". Finished in silver with blue banding and dark blue leather upholstery, the saloon is further said to have benefited from a "10,000 engine rebuild by Brunts of Silverdale". The most historically significant Derby Bentley we have had the pleasure of offering, 'ALU 323' is worthy of a place in any collection. PLEASE NOTE: This vehicle has an MOT until April 2007.

Lot Details
Auction Motor Car Sale
H&H Sales Limited, Buxton, Derbyshire
Lot Number070
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£35500
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating
Registration numberALU 323
Chassis numberB15AE
Engine numberZ8BA
Engine capacity (cc)3669
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors