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4¼ Litre 'Embiricos' Special
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  Bentley 4¼ Litre 'Embiricos' Special
 

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1938
Numbers built:1
Designed by:Georges Paulin for Pourtout
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:December 23, 2009
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Click here to download printer friendly versionThe 'Embiricos' Bentley was completed in the Summer of 1938 and immediately sent to the high-speed Montlhéry track just south of Paris for testing. The car barely broke the 100 mph mark but it was reported to handle very well. Although Embiricos took delivery of his Bentley shortly after, he generously offered the car for subsequent testing. During one of these, the Embiricos Bentley broke the 80 mph record average set by a 'Grosser' Mercedes-Benz on the stretch of Autobahn between Berlin and Munich. Running on larger wheels the modified Bentley averaged over 110 mph on a four-mile section. Later in the year, it went marginally faster around Brooklands, so the car had certainly proved its point. Embiricos sold his unique Bentley late in 1939 to HSF Hay.

Hay thoroughly enjoyed his latest acquisition and used it on the road for many years. With over 60,000 miles on the clock, he entered the Embiricos Bentley in the first post-War edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 1949. Despite its age, the streamlined machine still managed a commendable 6th in the race. He entered the race twice more and recorded 14th and 22nd place finishes. At this time the odometer read a startling 120,000 miles. Hay finally sold his much loved Embiricos Bentley in 1969. Since then it changed hands several times and was even repainted blue. In recent years, the unique Bentley joined a very prominent collection. It was restored to its original gun-metal silver colour and shown at many events. In 2001, it won Best of Show at Meadowbrook. Especially for the Bentley's 90th anniversary celebrations, it was brought back to Pebble Beach in 2009 where it is seen here.

The original reservations about a streamlined design on a Bentley design had been partly correct. Despite its obviously superior performance, the Embiricos Bentley was not received with universal approval. The styling was clearly too advanced for the average Bentley buyer and no other 4¼ Litre chassis was sent to France for a similar treatment. The R-Type Continental launched in 1952 was the closest Bentley came to adapting Paulin's ideas. It can hardly come as a surprise that the Continental, and most of its successors to this day, continue to sport the large, upright 'Bentley' radiator.

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  Article Image gallery (9) Specifications User Comments (1)