The 4 1/4-litre ‘Embiricos’ special, considered as one of the rarest and most valuable Bentleys in the world, is paying a historic visit at the marque’s home in Crewe, Cheshire, United Kingdom. The ‘Embiricos,’ which recently participated in the Louis Vuitton ‘Serenissima Run’ in Venice, Italy and was featured at the Le Mans Classic as part of the Bentley lineup, could be viewed at Bentley’s Lineage Showroom at its Pyms Lane plant until September 2012. The ‘Embiricos’ was born in the 1930’s, when Bentley Motors was building speedy yet refined Grand Tourers from its factory in Derby. The convention back then was that customers usually send their chassis to traditional coachbuilders like Vanden Plas, H.J. Mulliner or Park Ward for stylish bodywork.
Bentley enthusiasts from across the Channel, however, were favouring aerodynamics more than elegance, since they had to deal with longer and faster roads. One of those Bentley enthusiasts, Greek racing driver André Embiricos, with the support of the Deeby factory, dreamt of having a streamlined high-performance Bentley. Walter Sleator, Bentley’s agent in Paris, connected Embiricos with Georges Paulin, a designer for coachbuilders Pourtout Carrossier. Under the advisory of Paulin, Pourtout was able to build a sleek, aerodynamic body for a 4¼-Litre Derby Bentley that would eventually become the most famous Bentley of the Derby era.
To keep the vehicle as light as possible, the car’s fastback body was crafted in Duralumin, an age-hardened aluminium alloy. With this, the ‘Embiricos’ Bentley is able to meet all the criteria for a Bentley high performance grand tourer. It could also cruise 114.64 mph (184.5 km/h) over an hour at Brooklands. ‘Embiricos’ Bentley, however, is cultured enough to be used as a road car. In 1939, Embiricos sold his Bentley to H.S.F. Hay, who in turn raced the vehicle in three post-war Le Mans 24-hour races, grabbing 6th place in 1949.