The 1935 Derby Bentley registration BUC 33 was recently acquired by a new owner who asked us to research photographs of it in competition. The car was once owned and raced by Gavin Maxwell, famed naturalist and author of “Ring of Bright Water” about the otter he brought back from Iraq and raised in Scotland. First published in 1960, the book became a best seller and is considered a literary masterpiece.
Gavin Maxwell competed in BUC 33 during 1949 and 1950 at Silverstone, Firle, Goodwood and Brighton, when Guy photographed him in action.
Rolls-Royce had bought Bentley in 1931 and developed a new line, the Silent Sports Car, also known as the Derby Bentley. In 1933 the new Bentley 3½-Litre model was released and was an instant success. The combination of effortless power and style was well received by the press and public alike, and 1,191 were sold between 1933 and 1937, overlapping the 4¼-Litre Bentley, which replaced it.
It was powered by a developed twin carburettor version of Rolls-Royces own 20/25 model and was installed in a low 126 inch wheelbase chassis that basically remained unaltered until the cessation of production in 1939 due to the outbreak of war. Synchromesh was present on third and fourth gears and the Derbys were fitted with a cross flow cylinder head and superb servo assisted brakes.
In 1966 Gavin Maxwell sold BUC 33 to Stanley Sedgwick, the famed owner of OLGA, the prototype Bentley R Type Continental, and Patron of the Bentley Drivers Club.