Registration No. CVO 677
Chassis No. B104 JD
Engine No. A 3 BJ
Body No. 3529
Black with brown interior, and fawn hood.

Engine: six cylinder, 4,257cc, overhead valve, 125bhp at 4,500rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual; Suspension: semi-elliptic leaf springs front and rear; Brakes: four wheel drum. Right hand drive.

The Bentley company, under the direction of Rolls-Royce since 1931, upgraded its first model the 3 litre initially by offering a larger 4 as an option. Almost immediately the new engine, which was a twin-carburettored, higher compression ratio version of the Rolls-Royce 25/30hp unit, became standard, and gave a most satisfactory improvement in performance.

Bentley, like Rolls-Royce always attracted the very best of the coachbuilders art and the more sporting image and performance of the Bentley influenced the style of these coachworks. A name synonymous with the marque from its earliest days and responsible for the majority of coachwork on the vintage chassis was Vanden Plas. Bespoke coachbuilders of the highest quality, their designs continued to be one of the more popular choices, most notably for their Continental touring bodywork, during the Thirties.

The Four-Door All-Weather Tourer design (number 1341) as fitted to this chassis, B104 JD, made its debut on the Vanden Plas stand at the 1936 London (Olympia) Motor Show. This was a development of their already popular two door drophead for Oxborrow and Fuller, with two extra doors to provide easier access and improved comfort for all passengers. With close-coupled seating and windows which closed flush, as well as a compact folding roof that was semi-recessed into the bodywork they ensured that none of the original sporting Continental lines were disturbed, whilst with a solid hood frame double-lined, and all windows having interlocking guides, the interior was virtually draft-proof when closed, and allowed for the quality fitments normally only found in enclosed coachwork. The result was therefore one of the most versatile and stylish bodies to be fitted on these chassis. Unsurprisingly such luxury and style was costly, the body alone costing its first owner C.H. Jessop some 450.

Supplied through Cripps & Co, of Nottingham, Mr Jessop took delivery of the car at the end of February 1937, and it has remained in his family until this year. A file with the car details some of the earlier history and it would seem that in late 1951 it had a minor accident, as it subsequently returned to Cripps for a predominantly cosmetic rebuild. Other letters comprise correspondence with Bentley Motors, in one of which the company respond to a request for correct torque wrench readings by saying they are unable to help 'as we never used this equipment in our Workshops.'

The Bentley remained on the road until January 1963, never using the tax disc for that year that its owner purchased, and although from various mechanical notes its knowledgeable owner appears to have thought about returning her to the road this never happened. Instead the focus seems to have turned to replacing the wood to the rear of the bodywork though again this project was abandoned. Today following a long period of storage the car is in need of full restoration, and but for suffering from worm to the rear of the bodywork, it is substantially complete.

Only a handful of Derby chassis were equipped with Vanden Plas four-door allweather touring design and from details on the build sheets which note that on this particular car was to have louvres that continued right through to the rear ends of the bonnet, this car may indeed be unique in detail.

A 'Derby' that has lived in Derbyshire all its life, it represents an excellent opportunity to purchase a project that will in time provide the purchaser with one of the most stylish Vanden Plas Bentleys, and would make an excellent future concours contender.

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