Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Park Ward
S.M. Swenson, Orange, New Jersey (acquired new via J.S. Inskip in January 1940)Donald Lamb, New York, New York (acquired from the above in 1947)Victor Henningsen, Pelham, New York (acquired in 1958)Robert Shaw, Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey (acquired in 1971)Ricardo Fabbri, Merrick, New York (acquired in 1978)James Hancock Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire (acquired in July 1993)David Toms (acquired in January 2003)Robert Brechler, Fernandina Beach, Florida (acquired in May 2004)Current Owner (acquired from the estate of the above)
Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, Amelia Island, Florida, March 2009Lake Mirror Concours, Lakeland, Florida, October 2016 (First Place)Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, November 2016 (Palmetto Award)Birthplace of Speed Antique Car Show, Ormond Beach, Florida, November 2016 (First Place)
This striking Bentley 4 1/4 Litre, chassis B131MX, was delivered to Park Ward on April 4, 1939, where it was fitted with a sporting two-door pillarless coupe body, which was possibly a one-off build, intended for the 1939 New York Auto Show. Featuring special pontoon-style front fenders and a falling waistline, it is a design of particular beauty.
The 200 MX-Series 4 1/4 Bentleys were equipped with an overdrive fourth gear, and this example, not only was one of the last produced, but includes all refinements made by the works from 1936 through 1939. These upgrades include a Marles steering box, which provided lighter and better steering response, and a switch to 17" wheels, which improved handling dramatically.
Works records that accompany the car validate its history to the present day, beginning with when it left England on the SS American Banker and arrived in New York City on November 18, 1939. The New York City Rolls-Royce dealer, J.S. Inskip, sold it on January 20, 1940, to its first owner, S.M. Swenson of Orange, New Jersey.
The Bentley was subsequently enjoyed by a series of British car enthusiasts, including the well-known marque collector Robert Brechler of Fernandina Beach, Florida, who acquired it in 2004. In 2007, Mr. Brechler sent the car to the noted marque specialist, Steve Littin of Vintage & Auto Rebuilds in Chardon, Ohio, for an authentic, extensive restoration, with receipts totaling over $235,000. As he proceeded, Littin found evidence of the car’s as-delivered paint and leather colors, and he used them as a template for his work. The 4 1/4 was found to be mechanically sound and was deemed to not require a full rebuild. However, all wiring was replaced, and portions of the coachwork’s wooden structure were repaired and replaced, only where necessary. Additionally, the instruments were rebuilt, exterior chrome was refinished by D&D Brightworks, and Sharp Automotive Upholstery re-trimmed the interior. The work was completed in 2009, and this sporting example was displayed for the first time in decades at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance; more recently, it has garnered awards at other concours.
Following its purchase by the consignor, the pillarless coupe was updated to a single-tone paint scheme, still in its original crimson hue. In recent years, Derby Bentleys have come into great favor by a wide range of collectors. Few prewar cars carry more graceful coachwork, nor offer more fun behind the wheel than a Derby Bentley. The 4 1/4 Litre MX-Series cars are rightfully highly sought after due to their speed and advanced engineering. They are among the most popular tour cars, and this fine example stands ready to impress.