1939 Bentley 4¼-Litre Continental Sports Saloon by Park Ward

Chassis Number: B-93-MX

Registration Number: KJR 849

By the end of the 1930s the 'Derby' Bentley, introduced towards the beginning of that decade following the firm's take-over by Rolls-Royce, had undergone a number of significant developments, not the least of which was an increase in bore size in 1936 that upped the capacity to 4,257cc. Thus the new 4¼-Litre model offered more power than before while retaining the well-proven chassis with its faultless gearchange and servo-assisted brakes.

It was the construction of modern highways in Continental Europe, enabling cars to travel at sustained high speeds, that would lead eventually to the adoption of an overdrive gearbox. This was coupled with lighter steering courtesy of a Marles cam and roller steering box and improved lubrication system on Bentley's peerless Grande Routière, improvements which coincided with the introduction of the 'M' series cars in 1939. Refinement, reliability, and effortless long-distance cruising (3,000 revs equates to 78mph) were hallmarks of the coveted overdrive-equipped 'M' series. The ultimate expression of pre-war motoring refinement, only some 200-or-so were produced during 1939 and all are most highly regarded today.

Bentleys of this era were bodied by some of the most renowned coachbuilders of the time. Prominent amongst these were Park Ward, their supremely elegant Sports Saloon coachwork having been fitted from new to B-93-MX offered here. Being part owned by Rolls-Royce, Park Ward were uniquely placed to tailor their body designs to suit that of the Derby Bentley perfectly both in terms of form and function - combining relatively lightweight construction with superb build quality.

Copy chassis cards on file show B-93-MX to have been sold new to Mrs Crawhall of Norham-On-Tweed, Northumberland. Fitted from new with engine number Y-4-BA which it retains today, making it matching numbers- engine/chassis. As with all Bentley cars of this era, B-93 was tailored to the owner’s exacting tastes, in this case Mrs Crawhall clearly had long distance touring in mind, since this car is an example of the Park Ward Continental Sports Saloon. The Continental name denoting the fitment of a side mounted spare wheel, which allows the boot-lid to be folded flat to give extra luggage room.

Subsequent known owners to Mrs Crawhall are Mr Timothy Hart of Cambridge and Mr Royston Speculo of Middlesex. Mr Harold Burger owned the car from 1973 and he commissioned renowned marque specialists Fiennes Restoration Ltd to carry out a full mechanical restoration and re-wire, at the same time the body was fully restored by Clanfield Coachbuilding - see copious invoices and a photographic record on file. B-93 was subsequently acquired via famed specialists P & A Wood by well-known Rolls-Royce collector Mr George Peake of the Isle of Man in 1998, who still remembers the car fondly today.  The car passed in 2006 from him to Bentley collector Peter Flood at which point it had only done around 12,000 miles since completion of the restoration. During Mr Flood’s ownership B-93 was looked after by Bentley specialist Tony Fabian of the Blackmore Engineering Company. In 2009 the car passed to the current owner, part of a family steeped in pre-War Bentley history, as such he has owned some of the finest cars produced by both Cricklewood and Derby. With this in mind he considers the last of the line M-Series cars with coachwork by Park Ward to be the ultimate expression of the model, hence choosing B-93 to be part of his collection. During his ownership the car has been maintained in-house by his personal mechanic, with other work being carried out by Tony Fabian, including a new clutch, new rear main bearing seal and a very thorough service in 2015. Since then it has been little used, but has twice effortlessly completed the journey to and from Austria for the Ennstal-Classic Rally.

John Polson