Amelia Island

9 March 2013

Previous Next

Lot 110

1934 Bentley 3½-Litre Drophead Coupe by Park Ward

  • Chassis no. B203AE
  • Engine no. N5BM

Sold for $156,750

115 bhp, 224 cu. in. OHV inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel vacuum-assisted mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 126 in.

  • Period-correct Park Ward coachwork
  • Matching-numbers car with original tools, license plates, and manuals
  • Original Rudge-Whitworth wheels
  • Photo-documented $400,000 restoration completed in 2009

The 3½-Litre Bentley was introduced to the public at the Ascot Race Course in August 1933. To limit re-tooling costs, it was based on the Rolls-Royce 20/25 horsepower chassis. The new Bentley engine was reconfigured from the 20/25’s 2¾-liter motor by increasing displacement and adding a new cross-flow head, twin SU carburetors, a higher compression ratio, and a re-profiled camshaft. The result was a fast, smooth, long-lasting, responsive, and excellent-handling car that was marketed as “The Silent Sports Car.” Well-received by the press and public alike, 1,191 were sold between 1933 and 1937.

The car on offer, B203AE, was originally sold to G. Fitzherbert Wright by University Motors, of London, on March 26, 1934. Copies of the original documents accompany the car, which include specific equipment and dynamometer test results. Originally, the car was fitted with a Hooper four-door saloon body, because the owner anticipated using the car for “in town” transportation as well as continental touring.

B203AE later belonged to Captain Percival Kent, of Sherborne St. John in Hampshire. A letter accompanies the car from his neighbor, A.D. Carter, who remembers that the eccentric owner only drove the car two weeks a year, at Christmas. In intervening years, the handsome Bentley made its way to the United States and was discovered by West Coast Bentley enthusiast Gary Wales as a chassis and engine, complete and original, with verified matching numbers.

Mr. Wales had the good fortune to find an original Park Ward drophead coupe body that had been removed from its original chassis, B32EJ. Wales’ subsequent and painstaking full mechanical and cosmetic restoration of B203AE exceeded $400,000. Accompanying the car are 160 detailed photographs of the restoration, which was completed in 2009 with no-expense-spared. The car is tastefully presented in burgundy with maroon fenders, a central spotlight, a rear-mounted spare, and fitted luggage.

The “flying bee” mascot, a rare Lejeune piece, was installed by Wales, as it was known, according to A.D. Carter, that Captain Kent was a beekeeper. The insulated Blackwood Burgundy top features a luxurious Wilton headliner, which would need to be modified to enable the top to be lowered if open-air driving is desired. Although it is not confirmed, the hardware for the operational top is believed to be in place.

B203AE is by no means built up from other Bentley components. Simply put, it is an original 1934 Bentley chassis with an original 1935 Park Ward drophead coupe body. The car comes complete with the original fitted hand tool tray, road tools, owner’s manual, and its original British registration plates, MG 6666. Even more remarkable, this car retains its original, factory-specified “knock-off” racing wheels. Even the under-seat tool kit is substantially complete.

From 1933 through 1936, 1,177 Bentley 3½-Litre cars were produced in 12 VIN series. About half of those, or 529, were bodied by Park Ward. This car is one of the earliest produced and is part of the first VIN series, “AE.” Such cars are in great demand by Bentley enthusiasts and astute collectors of all marques. Moreover, they afford the new owner a lovely entry for participation in events organized by the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club, the Bentley Drivers Club, the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club, and even the Classic Car Club of America.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more