All to celebrate the 90th birthday of 'The Silent Sports Car.'
Bentley just celebrated the 90th birthday of the 'Derby era' of the brand's history by inviting 60 vehicles of the era to its Dream Factory in Crewe, UK. Nicknamed 'The Silent Sports Car,' the era stretched from 1933 to 1939 and saw the development of 2,400 different 3 ½ Litre and 4 ¼ Litre machines. The cornerstone of the event was Bentley's one-of-one 1939 MkV Corniche, once thought lost to time, taking to the public roads for the first time in 84 years.
The era is an important one for the brand as it includes the first vehicles produced under Rolls-Royce ownership and their many important mechanical and aesthetic upgrades that would become cornerstones of the brand for years. The brand says the designs conceived back then can still be seen on Continental GTs today, though you may have to squint.
Defined by the 3.5-liter inline-six at first, this 118-horsepower engine was rather powerful for the early 1930s and became the beating heart of vehicles that were seen as fast, stylish, and elegant. Thanks to the brand's newly introduced synchromesh gearbox and improved handling, the vehicle became a sales success, with the company producing as many as 500 in one year and working partnerships with over 40 coachbuilders.
The 4.5-liter six-cylinders came around in 1936 and were offered as an optional upgrade for a mere £50. It raised power to 125 hp and increased the top speed from 90 mph to 96 mph. Not exactly Bentley Blower numbers, but more than enough for the time.
This means the vehicles brought along to commemorate the occasion vary wildly, with Bentley showing off a 1934 3 ½ Litre with coachwork by Thrupp & Maberley that spent much of its life in the US before being sold back to the company and the incredible Corniche mentioned before. Other remarkable vehicles in attendance were a one-of-two launch car from September 1933 and a one-of-four experimental six-cylinder saloon from 1939.
This 90th celebration is part of a much wider celebration the company has had this year that includes the 20th-anniversary celebration of the Continental GT and the swan song of the brand's sublime W12 engine. For the latter, the last engine will roll off the line in April 2024, marking the end of a technological marvel as the company starts to focus on its electric future.