Back Home – Shooting a 1935 Bentley Van Den Plas Sports Saloon for Auction

Picture of By Nick Skinner
By Nick Skinner

Marketing Executive/Photographer

Here at Bridge Classic Cars, we have the rare and unique chance to deal with some of the most amazing classic and collectible cars on a near daily basis. Some are rare and iconic, others are storied and well-traveled. This 1935 Bentley Van Den Plas Sports Saloon is all of those wrapped into one.

The car belongs to a good friend of Bridge Classic Cars, John. John is a classic car enthusiast from South Africa who over the years we have developed an incredible friendship and appreciation for vintage metal with and its an absolute joy to have him make the trip over to see us. Recently, we had a shipping container filled to the brim with beautiful classics arrive at our Suffolk HQ which had been brought over by John, including this Derby Bentley.

John has kindly asked us to photograph and represent the car at auction for him here in the UK but the story of this car and its pure originality is what makes it truly stand out from the rest.

Firstly, here’s a quick recap on what a ‘Derby’ Bentley is for those who aren’t versed in early Bentley history – After the Rolls Royce takeover of Bentley in the early 1930s, the Bentley name would still retain its reputation for superb engineering, effortless style, and rock-steady reliability under its new ownership though the cars that would come to be known as Derby Bentley’s after its move from the Cricklewood home under W.O Bentley to Rolls Royce’s workshops based in Derby. Hence, ‘Derby’ Bentley’s.

Here’s what we specifically know about this car, BOL 505.

This 1935 Bentley Van Den Plas sports saloon spent its early years here in the UK under the registration BOL 505. In 1971, the car was acquired by South African Bentley enthusiast Tony White and shipped to South Africa in order to compliment his fleet of early Bentleys including a pair of 1928 4 ½ litre tourers. Soon after, the car was sold to another South African classic car enthusiast who would retain the car for the next 44 years.

It was then bought by another classic car enthusiast in South Africa who began work on the car, the previous owner to him carrying out the aesthetic restoration of the cars body as well as the overhaul of the all important straight-six engine, however due to the previous owners failing health there are no records or recollection of what work was indeed carried out.

Finished in two-tone Grey, this 1935 Bentley Van Den Plas sports saloon is a wonderful blend of sympathetic restoration and true originality. The exterior of the car is in fabulous condition, along with the engine block and engine bay being given an aesthetic restoration. In its 88-year life, it is believed the body has never left the chassis since the pair were brought together at the Derby works and must be one of only a handful to proudly wear that title.

Throughout its 52-year history in the southern hemisphere, the dry conditions have worked to preserve this beautiful British motorcar and meant that it has always been road registered with its previous owners.

The exterior of the car is in superb condition with very minimal work left to do, some of the original parts are missing such as the spare wheel, P100 headlight internals and sidelights. The interior is about as original as it comes but will require retrimming and some restorative work. The leather, although well patinated is still soft to the touch and could be kept or used to create a new interior for the car.

This is an incredible opportunity for an enthusiast of the Bentley marque or pre-war British motorcars to bring back to life, at minimal effort and with the large expenses already outlaid, a wonderful piece of British motoring history.

It’s a true pleasure and honour to be able to photograph piece of automotive history like this Derby Bentley. And it’s also a privilege for our friend and customer to ask us to represent the car at auction for him aswell.

The car is offered for auction through our friends over at Car & Classic using this link.

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