2023 |Estate of Mark Smith Auction
1935 Bentley 3 1/2 Litre Drophead Coupe
Coachwork by Antem
$250,000 - $350,000| Without Reserve
Originally Built for Legendary and Influential Bentley Client André Embiricos
One of Just Two Bentleys Ever Bodied by French Coachbuilder Antem
Fitted from the Factory with High-Compression Cylinder Head
3,669 CC OHV Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Twin SU Carburetors
110 BHP at 4,500 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Servo-Assisted Mechanical Drum Brakes
Front Beam Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Rear Live Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
The first Bentley model produced after Rolls-Royce's acquisition of the company, the 3 1/2 Litre was the first of the “Derby Bentleys” built at Rolls-Royce's Derby factory. These machines were refined and elegant, earning them the famous “silent sports car” moniker that would become synonymous with the marque. As was the convention at the time, bodies from a wide variety of coachbuilders were fitted to the 3 1/2 Litre, with over half the cars receiving Park Ward Ltd. coachwork, with the remaining cars spread across a number of other coachbuilders.
This outstanding and historic example, chassis B5EJ, was bodied by renowned coachbuilder Antem of Paris. It is one of just two Bentleys ever bodied by the company, and the only 3 1/2 Litre for which they built a body. B5EJ features the characteristically French styling of the period, which was even more elegant and rakish than contemporary English designs. The windscreen was an extremely low design that was hinged at the top to permit ventilation and could also be folded completely flat from the base.
This 3 1/2 Litre was originally ordered by legendary Bentley client and Greek shipping magnate André Embiricos, now famous for his streamlined, custom-bodied 4 1/2 Litre Bentley which was run at Brooklands and competed at Le Mans from 1949–1951, finishing 6th Overall at the 1949 event. According to a copy of its original Bentley build sheet on file, B5EJ was ordered with a high-compression cylinder head, metric instruments with white backgrounds and black lettering, and a Wilmot-Breeden “Type A” front bumper.
Mr. Embiricos took delivery of the Bentley in Paris, where it remained until he sold it back to Bentley Motors, who found it a new home in the UK. B5EJ remained there with a handful of long-term owners, before settling with famed racing driver Eddie Hall. Hall had a successful career in competition beginning in the early 1920s and spanning nearly three decades driving Bentleys and supercharged MGs at Silverstone and the Ards circuit in Northern Ireland. Hall has been immortalized for his heroic drive at Le Mans in 1950, where he drove a specially prepared 4 1/4 Litre Bentley Corniche TT Coupe for the entire 24-hour race on his own – never offering the wheel to his co-driver Tom Clarke and, amazingly, finishing 8th Overall. He remains the only driver in the history of the famed race to drive the entirety of the relentless event.
In 1978, Eddie Hall, then 80 years old, raced this Antem-bodied Bentley drophead at Ards not only in the rain, but also with the top down. B5EJ was repainted dark blue before being sold in the mid-1980s to Dick Ahrens, an enthusiastic Oakland-based RROC member who kept it until at least 2004. In 2008, B5EJ was purchased by Mark Smith.
Today, the Bentley possesses a lovely and gentle patina, particularly in its inviting blue leather upholstery. The car is accompanied by an owner’s handbook and a pair of Marchal headlamps, along with a file of historical documentation and correspondence. Having been owned by two of the most legendary names in the Bentley world and fitted with its one-off French coachwork, B5EJ is at once a beautiful work of automotive art and a potent tourer equipped with Bentley’s highly sophisticated mechanicals. This fantastic motorcar would make a lasting impression on the show field or on the many vintage driving events for which it is eligible.
*Please note that this Lot, like all vehicles in this Auction, has been in long-term static storage and may not be currently operational. It will require mechanical attention prior to any road use.
Gooding & Company presents and conducts the Estate of Mark Smith Auction under the authority of John J. Rendemonti, Executor of the Estate of Mark J. Smith, duly appointed by the Circuit Court of the State of New Hampshire, Probate Division, Case Number 312-2022-ET-00072. The Estate has compiled available title and/or registration paperwork for the Vehicles offered in the Auction and will provide such paperwork to the Buyer if it is available. However, as set forth more fully in the Conditions of Sale, neither the Estate nor Gooding makes any representation or warranty with respect to any existing certificate of title or registration with regard to any Lot in the Auction. Any Lot may be sold on a Bill of Sale. By participating in this Auction, all bidders and buyers recognize that Estate and Gooding have expressly disclaimed all such warranties concerning the availability or sufficiency of any title or registration documentation.