The Bentley 3½ Litre was presented to the public in September 1933, shortly after the death of Henry Royce, and was the first new Bentley model following Rolls-Royce's acquisition of the Bentley brand in 1931. A drophead 1935 Bentley 3½ Litre was featured in the 1963 film From Russia with Love as James Bond's first Q Branch equipped vehicle.
Bentley sold only the bare rolling chassis with engine and gearbox, scuttle and radiator, ready for coachbuilders to construct on it a body to the buyer's requirements. Many distributors ordered their preferred bodies as showroom stock to enable them to stock finished cars ready for immediate sale.
Based on an experimental Rolls-Royce project "Peregrine" which was to have had a supercharged 2¾ L engine, the 3½ Litre was finally fitted with a less adventurous engine developed from Rolls' straight-6 fitted to the Rolls-Royce 20/25. The Bentley variant featured a higher compression ratio, sportier camshaft profile and two SU carburettors on a crossflow cylinder head. Actual power output was roughly 110 bhp (82 kW) at 4500 rpm, allowing the car to reach 90 mph (145 km/h). The engine displaced 3.7 L (3669 cc/223 in³) with a 3¼ in (82.5 mm) bore and 4½ in (114.3 mm) stroke.
A 4-speed manual transmission with synchromesh on 3rd and 4th, 4-wheel leaf spring suspension, and 4-wheel servo-assisted mechanical brakes were all common with other Rolls-Royce models. The chassis was manufactured from nickel steel, and featured a "double-dropped" layout to gain vertical space for the axles and thus keep the profiles of the cars low. The strong chassis needed no diagonal cross-bracing, and was very light in comparison to the chassis built by its contemporary competitors, weighing in at 2510 lb in driveable form ready for delivery to the customer's chosen coachbuilder.
1177 3½ Litre cars were built, with about half of them being bodied by Park Ward, with the remainder "dressed" by other coachbuilders like Barker, Freestone & Webb, Gurney Nutting, Hooper, wikipedia:Mann Egerton, Mulliner (both A and HJ), Rippon, Thrupp & Maberly, James Young, Vanden Plas and Windovers in England; Figoni, Kellner, Saoutchik and Vanvooren in Paris; and smaller concerns elsewhere in UK and Europe.
James Bond's Bentley 3½ Litre
Ian Fleming's character James Bond drives a 1930 Blower Bentley in three of the 007 Novels, Casino Royale, Live and Let Die and Moonraker. Similarly, Bond's very first vehicle in the film series is also a Bentley.
It is shown very briefly during Bond's first scene in From Russia with Love, as Bond uses its car phone to respond to a pager call from headquarters. Following this, it is mentioned only once again (very briefly) in Goldfinger. While the Bentleys of the novels are shown to be Bond's personal possessions, the film version of Goldfinger strongly implies that the Bentley was issued to Bond by Q-Branch. Arriving at Q-Branch, Bond asks where his Bentley is, only to have Q dismissively state "Oh, it's had it's day I'm afraid." Despite having reservations, Bond is issued with the Aston Martin DB5 instead. On "M's orders".
|Car phone — In From Russia with Love, the only gadget known to be included in the Bentley was a car phone on the dashboard, which in 1963 was very uncommon.|
- de Geyer d'Orth, Niels (30 October 2008). Un demi-siècle de James Bond cars. Autonews. Retrieved on 18 August 2010.