Cars for Sale

1936 Bentley Derby 4 1/4

Offered in partnership with Frank Dale and Stepsons 

1936 Bentley 4¼ Vanden Plas Sports Coupé ex-Hugh Hunter and Donald Campbell

  •  Crafted for Brooklands personality Hugh Hunter 
  • Competed in the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally
  • Later with speed legend Donald Campbell
  • Fitted with Fiennes overdrive, suitable for long-distance touring
  • Concours winning restoration in original livery by marque experts Alpine Eagle

One of the most elegant and stylish of all the Derby Bentleys, this Sports Coupé was bodied by Vanden Plas to the precise specifications of famous Brooklands racer Hugh Curling Hunter. A concours winner both in period and as restored, she competed in the 1937 Monte Carlo Rally.

Hugh Hunter was a prolific racer, famous for campaigning his magnificent ex-Mille Miglia Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Spyder at Brooklands and further afield (reputedly but with some uncertainty the winning car in 1938 for Biondetti with mechanic Aldo Stefani). He also raced a single-seater supercharged Alta custom bodied by Sinbad Milledge of R.R. Jackson, earning a coveted Brooklands 120 m.p.h. badge, and raced the Embiricos Bentley at Le Mans in 1950 with Soltan Hay. The family’s successful Sun Engraving business helped lubricate these exploits – remembered as a great character, kind and generous, Hunter’s racing memorabilia is preserved on display at Brooklands to this day. 

Hunter worked closely with Vanden Plas to finalize the exquisite coachwork still adorning the body today. With future concours competition in mind, a series of detail drawings were produced before settling on the final design - striking black and terracotta coachwork with a matching terracotta and black interior, close coupled seating, low roofline, sunroof and concealed spare. No detail was spared - she even featured a third internal windscreen wiper for internal demisting! 

Taking delivery in late 1936, she was registered EMY 4 in sequence with Hunter’s other transport including the ex-Mille Miglia Alfa Romeo 2.9 (JML 1), a Fiat Topolino (DXV 2), and a Frazer Nash BMW (DXV 3). Known affectionately as “Emmy,” she appeared in the Monte Carlo rally of January 1937, then toured home through Cannes, St. Moritz and Paris. She was a prize winner shown by Hunter in period concours in Eastbourne and Ramsgate and survives with photography and even colour cine-film from Hunter’s ownership.

Yet as if the Hunter connection were not enough, when EMY 4 was finally sold post-war she went to famed world land and water speed record holder Donald Campbell in 1949. A friend of Hunter’s and son of record breaker Malcolm Campbell, Donald continued the line of Bluebird machines and in 1964 set both the land speed record at 403.1mph in Bluebird CN7 and the water speed record at 276.33 mph aboard Bluebird K7, the only person to capture both records the same year. After Campbell’s ownership of about a year, a number of owners followed, and she went to America.

Decades later a questing pursuit by Hugh Hunter’s admiring nephew saw EMY 4 rediscovered in 1998 by in Oregon’s Pacific Northwest. Owned by enthusiast Jim Blackaby (a retired NASA engineer who worked on Project Mercury, Project Gemini and the Apollo program), she was complete but still patiently awaiting restoration. She returned to the UK beginning a second period of Hunter family ownership and a revival of her fortunes.

A meticulous restoration was commissioned by well-known restorers Alpine Eagle, completed in mid-2002. In addition to a full mechanical rebuild and overhaul where necessary, the original Hunter terracotta livery and upholstery was reinstated. A modern Fiennes overdrive unit was also fitted, making her perfect for long-legged touring. 

Testament to the quality of the restoration, on her concours debut she was victorious in the Derby Bentley class at the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club Annual Rally in June 2002 in a field of thirty cars, then returned the following year also winning the competitive Masters Class. With sparing use since restoration, she remains in stunning condition today.

Offered from a private collection, this ex-Hugh Hunter and Donald Campbell Derby Bentley is simply exquisite in appearance, and even more special with these historic period associations. Sure to delight a discerning new owner, and eminently eligible for concours or touring events.