Barn Find 1935 Derby Bentley Sells for $74K After Sitting for 50 Years

This rare coupe is one of 2,422 built by then-owner Rolls-Royce in its factory in Derby, England, and are considered especially valuable for their pedigree and looks.

byAaron Cole|
Bentley News photo
Charterhouse Classic Cars Auction

Barn finds are the few remaining surprises among car enthusiasts. Special editions, killer builds, engine swaps are all great but those don’t have the same shock as peeling open rusty doors, scrounging around cobwebs and dirt, and peeling back a sheet to see what’s hiding underneath. 

What was underneath a sheet in Dorset, England, was truly special indeed. This 1935 Bentley coupe is more than just a pre-War car. One of the 2,422 Derby Bentleys, it’s among the first Bentleys produced at Rolls-Royce’s factory in Derby, England, between 1933 and 1940; after Bentley’s sale to Rolls-Royce but before the two nameplates would share many parts. The car found a new home this week, according to the BBC. Dang, keep looking under those sheets for another.

This particular Bentley is one of the early Derbys and fairly special. According to the listing, its first owner was a lawyer in Scotland before it was sold to an owner in Australia. The Bentley made the long haul Down Under before returning to the UK after the war. In 1954, it was purchased by a Dorset farmer and was parked after failing its registration in the late 1960s. Perhaps the last time it saw the light of day was in 1971 when the family attempted to fix faulty kingpins that failed inspection before it was pushed back into the barn. 

That was 50 years ago, and by the looks of things, it hasn’t done much since. The Derby Bentleys were called “silent sports cars” due to the racing pedigree that Bentley brought to the table, which was married to the luxury standards that Rolls-Royce could produce. There were three Derby Bentleys produced: a 3.5-liter, 4.5-liter, and 4.25-liter. 

Charterhouse Classic Cars Auction

Like most luxury cars of the era, Derby Bentleys were rolling chassis that made their way to coachbuilders for finishing. Park Ward finished many of the cars, although coachbuilders Barker, Mulliner (both of them), Vanden Plas, Embiricos, and Vesters & Neirinick all made bodies for the Derby Bentleys. This example is from Thrupp & Maberly coachbuilders and it reportedly left the shop in yellow with red leather, before getting resprayed black at some point in its life.

The Dorset Derby Bentley gaveled in at just under $74,000, which isn’t a huge sum considering its pedigree and possibilities. Other examples have sold for more than $230,000, although those probably worked. According to the auction listing, the barn find Derby Bentley has a long way to go before being roadworthy again, although the BBC reported that its new owner said it’d be on the street within a week. 

We hope it is. Something this good-looking doesn’t need another 50 years under a sheet.

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