Design

The Stunning 1938 4¼ Litre “Embiricos” Coupe Was the First Beautiful Bentley

Thankfully, it survives today.

The Embiricos 4¼ Litre coupe built by Pourtout to Georges Paulin’s elegant design still exists, altered little during the past eight decades. Its inherent beauty, elegance, and efficiency are only slightly despoiled by clumsy racing-oriented and/or regulatory modifications. It’s worth a quick look at its virtues and to detail its evolution. The front end, largely inspired by Jean Bugatti’s earlier work, is in fact more aerodynamic than it might seem, with airflow staying attached to the sides all the way back to the rear fender. By keeping the windshield height low, the top can curve nicely and keep good flow to a separation point above the backlight. Each of the four side glass pieces is set at a different angle, emulating a curved side surface in plan view. Apart from the belt over the hood required by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest for Le Mans, the overall form is exceptionally pure and aerodynamically efficient. And it is beautiful.

2019 marks Bentley’s 100th anniversary, and we’re celebrating with a series of stories detailing the fascinating history of the iconic marque.
The Major Eras
 • Continental GT Road Trip • A Century of Bentley Design • Breitling + Bentley • Blower Bentleys • Bentley + Racing • Classic Bentleys for Every Budget

1. Showing complete indifference to form, this scoop/vent disrupts a truly magnificent fender volume.
2. Notice the plan-view side-glass curve represented by four flat sections.
3. The windshield’s low top reminds us of the painted section at the top of modern racing GTs and sedans. The central crease in the roof is elegant.
4. Paulin’s simple vertical-bar grille is one of the best ever seen on a Bentley.
5. Keeping the valence panel, to which the lamps are integrated, low reduces the flat-plate area of body that initially penetrates the air, a sort of primiate area-ruling for airflow.
6. How strange and skinny these tires seem to modern eyes.

1. The turn-signal repeater is positioned at the worst possible place on top of the rear fender.
2. No doubt a racing mechanic’s hack job. Notice that the sides of the brake-cooling inlet do not match the shape of the fender or rear skirt.
3. The chrome trim piece at the windowsill has gone missing over the years. Too bad for the elegance.
4. Another hack job for brake cooling, but at least with an attempt to respect the fender form.
5. Originally, the driving lamp stood proud of the grille, making the whole more harmonious.
6. Using Lucas lamps from an MG on the tip of the front fenders is shameful. They should be mounted on, and behind, the elegant bumper.
7. Wheel covers could have been present when the car was new and are definitely positive for the overall look.

MORE BENTLEY

The Major Eras • Continental GT Road Trip • A Century of Bentley Design • Breitling + Bentley • Blower Bentleys • Bentley + Racing • Classic Bentleys for Every Budget

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