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Car of the Month

More on Bentley in these books:

50 Years of the Marque

Rossfeldt: Rolls-Royce and Bentley




Car of the Month - December 2021
Bentley 6,5 Litre Speed Six, 1930, #LR2780
'modified’ re-bodied Open Tourer

Bentley 6,5 Liter

From the model variant Bentley 6,5 Litre Speed Six only a small number of only 186 copies was created. Today they enjoy such an immense appreciation that in collections and garages around the world more than twice as many copies are 'listed'. Numerous chassis of other Bentleys were modified to more or less exact copies of 'Le Mans Tourers' - and a considerable number of cars were produced which can be classified as complete fakes. Over the years immediately following the end of production at the Cricklewood works it was not foreseeable that a complete turnaround would occur later with enormous increase in value of Bentley 6,5 Litre Speed Six in particular. On the contrary the cars showed a steep depreciation curve in the 1930s and partly also over the following decades.

Bentley 6,5 Liter

This may be a major reason why the Bentley 6½ Litre Speed Six, #LR2780, lost its original body only four years after delivery to its 1st owner and coachwork became replaced by a Mayfair Coupé (see illustration in "Bentley, Fifty Years of the Marque" by Johnnie Green, 3rd Edition, page 50 above). The original coachwork on this chassis – made to the order of the Duke of Leinster – had been made by well-established coachbuilder Gurney Nutting in the form of a Saloon to Weymann-license. Even allowing for the fact that Weymann bodies were sensitive to stress and aged rapidly, the decision to replace the body as soon as 1934, leaves room for speculation if fire damage or accident rather than aging had been the decisive factor. 

Bentley 6,5 Liter

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Mayfair did a fine job, as #LR2780 with their coupe body survived into the 1960s. Then, with a complete restoration of chassis, engine, drivetrain, body and interior by Cook (USA), the car was particularly well prepared for a lengthy 2nd lease of life as a collector's item.

Bentley 6,5 Liter

However, a buyer from the United Kingdom pursued other plans following the acquisition of the car in 1984. He ordered the construction of an open tourer 'Le-Mans-Style' replica body. For this purpose, the chassis' frame was sawn apart, various pieces (e.g. from the side members) were removed and then it became welded into a chassis with shorter wheelbase. Thus, a criterion of vital importance needs to be mentioned. This was "no genuine Bentley 6,5 Litre Speed Six" any more, i.e. no Bentley 6,5 Litre Speed Six as originally delivered from the factory. A considerable fraction among experts - depending on what standards they apply as their yardstick – as regards classification prefer to talk about a 'Replica'; one of many Bentley Specials (see "Bentley Specials & Special Bentleys" Volume II, op. cit., page 1001). The Classic Car Club of America, for example, listed this automobile as a 'Modified Classic', acceptable for display purposes and to attend at CCCA events, though not qualified for judging under CCCA rules (this was stated in a 1999 letter by a former Classification Chairman of the Classic Car Club of America).

If the intention is primarily vehicle for fun or perhaps for competition/racing, the foregoing criteria might be secondary in the case of this automobile.

Bentley 6,5 Liter

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