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Car of the Month

More on Bentley in these books:

Rossfeldt: Rolls-Royce and Bentley




Car of the Month - July 2020
Bentley 4 1/4 Litre, 1939, #B138MR
Sports Saloon by Hooper

No more than a segment from the model-series Bentley 4 Ľ Litre are the Bentley cars from the last two chassis-series with ‘MR’ or ‘MX’ in their chassis-numbers. Such were distinguished from the previously produced series by various modifications most notably among these a much revised 4-speed gearbox. Hence such were offered by the manufacturer as ‘Overdrive’ and that designation has survived although in this case merely a modified gearbox has been fitted but no ‘overdrive’ in the true sense of the word. Among collectors MR/MX-Bentley cars are much sought after.

Bentley 4 1/4 Liter

Against such background it isn’t too astonishing that a book compiled by Mervyn Frankel and Ian Strang and published about a quarter of a century ago had been devoted entirely to this model variant. All copies of that compendium were sold within a fairly short period; if at some later stage, e.q. at an auction, one such book became available offers rocketed upward rapidly. A few ago a new book on this theme is available "Bentley – Last of the Silent Sports Cars 1938/39". Its top quality leaves little doubt it will meet with much acclaim and most presumably in years to come this token, too, will become a cherished collector's item.  

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Bentley 4 1/4 Liter

In the book are to be found details and pictures as regards #B138MR. Among these a coachbuilder’s drawing of Hooper's Sports Saloon with twin sidemounts and a Coachbuilder’s Photo. It was considered appropriate to compare such illustrations with photos that had been added to Roßfeldt-Archives some 40 years ago. These were from photo-series taken – at the time with analogue cameras Hasselblad 60x60 mm and Leica 24x36 mm – in black and white on Ilford film and colour transparencies on Agfa and Kodak-films respectively. The photos over recent decades had been ‘exiled’ to the archives and only now an impetus was given to arrange for digitized images.

By co-incidence at the same time was received an enquiry from a fellow-collector of classis cars who was interested in a comparison between the price-level quoted for a ‘bread and butter car’ from that period and a Bentley 4Ľ Litre aiming at an exclusive niche. For the latter it could be said that "The Times" in 1938 listed the price for a Bentley 4Ľ Litre with GBP 1,510. For the second half of the 1930s for an Austin 7 – as a typical example of a mass-produced motor car from that period - the price-range was given from GBP125 to GBP165. OK, it might might not be complying with scientific standards – but there is little risk in stating that for one Bentley 4Ľ Litre an amount had to be invested that would have bought approximately 10 mass-produced cars (Austin 7).

Bentley 4 1/4 Liter

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