Amelia Island

10-11 March 2017

A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith

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Lot 154

1939 Bentley 4¼-Litre "Embiricos" Coupe Recreation by Bob Petersen Engineering

  • Chassis no. B119MX
  • Engine no. W9BC

Sold for $671,000


126 bhp, 4,257 cc OHV inline six-cylinder engine with two SU carburetors, four-speed manual gearbox with synchromesh on the third and fourth gears, factory overdrive, front and rear semi-elliptical spring suspension with hydraulic shock dampers, and four-wheel mechanical brakes with servo-assist. Wheelbase: 126 in.

  • An exquisite, faithful recreation of the fabled “Embiricos Bentley”
  • Exceptional build quality and craftsmanship; true to the original
  • Built on an original, correct 4¼-Litre overdrive “MX” engine and chassis
  • Inarguably one of the most beautiful streamlined designs of all time


The Derby Bentley has a reputation as “The Silent Sports Car” – elegant, swift, but always controlled, and not the brawny and imposing performer of the “W.O.” years. There were some exceptions to that rule, none more prominent and notable than the so-called “Embiricos Bentley,” commissioned by Walter Sleator from French coachbuilder Marcel Pourtout for Sleator’s great client, international sportsman Andre Embiricos.

Pourtout’s official stylist, the brilliant Georges Paulin, drew up a coupe to strict aerodynamic principles, tested in wind tunnels in France and England. Looking more Delage than Derby, the result was a stunning streamlined coupe, mounted on the ultimate 4¼-Litre chassis with factory overdrive. Reportedly it was the fastest saloon in England prior to the war. Embiricos drove it enthusiastically, as did later owners; post-World War II, it ran three times in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It is widely credited with planting the idea in Bentley management for the 1939 Corniche prototype, designed in collaboration with Paulin, which would evolve into the R-Type Continental – a car much in the same character as Embiricos’ special creation.

Today the original “Embiricos Bentley” happily survives, in the care of one of the world’s finest collections. Unhappily for the many who would like to own it, it is not for sale.

The car offered here is the solution to that conundrum. Built by the renowned British firm of Bob Petersen Engineering, celebrated for its especially beautifully crafted Bentley “specials,” it is a line-for-line copy of the Embiricos car, on a correct 4¼-Litre overdrive chassis, as was used for the original. The car retains the original chassis’ engine, number W9BC, as well as its original British registration numbers. Everything else is true to Pourtout, down to the rear fender “markers,” the shapes of the windows, the concealed door handles, and the shapes of the hood latches. Much of the trim was exquisitely machined from scratch in the Petersen shops.

Under the hood, the engine, correctly restored with a few bright “flourishes,” received light performance upgrading, as well as improvements to aid in its cooling under hard use. This car was, significantly, not built as a showpiece, but, in both Embiricos and Petersen tradition, as a car that a new owner could and should drive extensively and with rapidity. It was fitted with a polished aluminum dashboard, carrying a full complement of correct instrumentation and gauges, facing upholstery in saddle tan leather in a “Deco” pleating design. Eighteen-inch wheels hide behind Ace wheel discs, while the body was finished in lustrous gunmetal pewter metallic.

Following its completion in 2011, the stunning car was shown throughout Europe, then made its way stateside, to join Orin Smith’s collection. It was a natural acquisition for the Smith Collection, as it represents one of the most beautiful Bentleys ever created, as well as a landmark in the company’s performance heritage.

Thus it stands, still in utterly immaculate condition, among its “Silent Sports Car” brethren, a glorious tribute to what vast funds and a talented designer can bring to the world.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more