Bentley 3 ½ Litre , Registration BGF 63 , Chassis No. B 3 BL, Engine Z 6 BB
This Bentley, with shooting brake body, is a 1934 second series 3 ½ Litre ‘Derby’ built car.
It was originally delivered with a Park Ward open tourer body to Alexander Duckham, of oil fame, at a 10% discount and with his special-order spare wheel, side-mounted strangely on the off-side.
At the outbreak of the second World War he donated the car, together with another 4 ¼ model he also owned and a couple of houses, to the RAF Benevolent Fund. The car then disappeared until around 1955 when it passed through the hands of John Hind & Co. Ltd. of Hanover Square and then, via keepers Thompson, Buckingham and Gray, was found, by the present keeper, in the late 1970’s in a West Sussex private garage. The car was decorated overall, including the then fitted P 100 headlamps, with Dulux cream paint, the tin and brush being discovered in the car.
The ‘woodie’ body is grafted on from windscreen rearwards, retaining all the original front bits, windscreen, running boards and rear wings. It is conjecture that, as the body is competently constructed but not in true coach-maker fashion, the likelihood is that the car was converted during the unpleasantness or thereafter to become ‘load carrying’, so attracting extra petrol coupons. It may also be that the car was partly destroyed by enemy action, as there is still one complete tracer bullet hole in the front off-side brake drum, with suitably welded-up shoes behind!
When found, it rejoiced in Rover P4 seats in a parlous state upon which, in 1980, the present keeper’s youngest daughter nearly first saw the light of day in darkest France. They and she survived the ordeal until the innards were replaced with ex-vintage front seats and home-made rear appointments in order to meet the demands of decency and the 21st Century!
A photograph of Mr Duckham in the car ( Picture 2 ) shows she carried torpedo shaped headlights, and these have been hopefully replicated by a pair of refurbished Marchal Aerolux. The car is used regularly but infrequently and is a favourite with some as a wedding carriage. She has made appearances in such diverse areas as Windsor Castle before HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, in ‘Classic Car Weekly’ and the front cover of the BDC Derby Bentley Technical Scheme Newsletter !