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Little Classics News: 4 October 2013

15,000 Mile 1937 Bentley up for Auction

1937 Bentley Imperial War Museum AuctionH&H to offer remarkable 15,000-mile 1937 Bentley 3½ Litre Vanden Plas Drophead Coupe for sale after 30 years’ slumber.

1937 Bentley Imperial War Museum AuctionA real sleeping beauty, chassis B135FC is not only the most original but also the best preserved ‘garage find’ that H&H have ever had the pleasure of handling.

Notable as the last of only four Bentley 3.5 Litre cars to wear Vanden Plas Drophead Coupe coachwork, it has had just two keepers and covered a mere 15,199 miles from new.

The car will be part of the The Imperial War Museum Auction held by H&H Auctions on the 16th October. Estimates expect this lovley classic to fetch £140,000 - £180,000.

Fear of damage kept it off the road

1937 Bentley Imperial War Museum Auction1937 Bentley Imperial War Museum AuctionFirst registered as ‘DLO 936’ on March 1st 1937, chassis B135FC was supplied new to Robert S. Hayward Esq. of The Hawthorns, Galashiels. A director of the nearby R & A Sanderson Woollen Mill, he covered a modest 11,000 miles aboard the Bentley before offering it for sale via a small dealership located off Union Street in Edinburgh where it was spotted by the vendor’s late father.

Recalling the encounter in his memoirs the latter described it thus: “How does one cope with blind passion? I was a ruined man. A visit to the showroom for a closer look was devastating."

"The car was immaculate, perfect, with tonneau covers and spares etc which had never been used. The asking price was beyond my means and in any case I had no driving licence or any sensible place to keep the car even if I were able to acquire it”.

Further showroom visits ensued as did the prospect of losing ‘DLO 936’ to a South African collector. Suitably panicked, the vendor’s late father found the requisite funds and became its proud owner during May 1954.

Kept in professional storage when not being sparingly used, accompanying MOT certificates issued in May 1970 and April 1980 list recorded mileages of 15,030 and 15,195 respectively. Ever wary that a road traffic accident would compromise its remarkable originality, the Drophead Coupe spent less and less time on the public highway.

Immobile for the last thirty odd years, the four-seater has been garaged alongside a Riley Kestrel 15/6 and Jaguar E-type V12 Roadster. Thankfully, the building was not only watertight but also conducive to preservation in terms of humidity and light levels.

Examining chassis B135FC in the metal prompts feelings of both incredulity and respect. The only item which looks its age is the slightly shrunken and discoloured hood, whereas the Red two-tone paintwork, Red leather upholstery and gleaming brightwork all appear far younger than their seventy-six years. The doors open and close with ease and their apertures are free from scuff marks. Indeed the whole car is a testament to the craftsmanship of Bentley and Vanden Plas.

A worthy competitor in the preservation class of any major concours d’elegance, this exceptional ‘matching numbers’ 1937 Bentley 3.5 Litre Vanden Plas Drophead Coupe is accompanied by a continuation buff logbook, old MOTs, assorted storage bills and correspondence between its first and second owners.

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