1934 Bentley 3 ½ Litre Tourer – Classified of the Week

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By Chris Pollitt

Straight out of the golden age of motoring comes this frankly magnificent 1934 Bentley 3 ½ Litre. Resplendent in gloss black with leather panelling and a contrasting red leather interior. It’s a feast for the eyes from bumper to bumper. And it’s also something of a rare beast, given that it was bodied by the Windovers coachbuilding company. Finished as a three-position drophead coupe, this beautiful Bentley is perhaps the ultimate in vintage sports touring. 

The Bentley 3 ½ Litre was a car that very nearly didn’t happen. Bentley engineers had adventurous plans which involved a 2 ¾ litre supercharged engine. The experimental project was actually a Rolls Royce idea, and was codenamed ‘Peregrine’. In the end though, the supercharged car never came to be, and Bentley picked up the project. 

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Instead of the 2 ¾ engine, Bentley fitted the 3 ½ litre straight-six unit from the Rolls Royce 20/25. However, considerable works were carried out to up the performance. A sportier camshaft was fitted, the compression ratio was increased and twin SU carburettors were fitted to a crossflow cylinder head. The resulting engine produced 110bhp and could shuffle the chassis all the way up to 90mph. Impressive. 

Other specifications included a four-speed manual transmission with synchro on third and top, four wheel leaf suspension, servo-assisted brakes, all of which was bolted to a strengthened chassis. The only thing Bentley didn’t do was drop a body on it. That would be a decision to fall at the owner’s feet. 

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The original owners of this car sent it to Windovers. A small, but heritage-rich coachbuilder with Royal ties and a proven track record of quality. Once the chassis was with them, the glorious drophead body was built and fitted. As per the style of the time, the front half is painted metal while the rear half is covered in black leather or vinyl. The interior was trimmed in red leather, and was configured to seat four in comfort. 

The resulting car was and still is a stunning example of coachbuilding done well. The lines fit in with the wheelbase perfectly, and the design is, as such, considered and well proportioned. The three-position roof makes for all manner of weather-based suitability, while the stout mechanics ensure that no journey is too much to ask of it. There is also the brilliant addition of a town (quiet) and country (loud) switchable exhaust, further enhancing the experience. 

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This car, which is in exceptional condition, has been owned by the same family for some seventy years. It has been maintained as a car of this ilk should, and as such, has never been restored. This is an original, cared for car. A rare, rare find indeed. At £89,995, it’s something of a bargain – a car like this isn’t going to present itself again any time soon.

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