28/07/2011 Original VDP-bodied, matching no.s Bentley 6½ Litre to star in Bonhams Quail Lodge sale
On 19 August, Bonhams will offer a car catalogued as “one of the all time great Bentleys - the Bullivant 6½ Litre”. Its selling price should set a marker for this year’s Monterey weekend auctions.
Make no mistake, while the peerless lines of a Cricklewood ‘W.O. car’ might be seen on many a pre-War Bentley, very, very few carry original – or more to the point, original-style – bodywork. The example you see here, a car delivered new in 1927 to a typical customer of the period, a Mr E. Bullivant of Mortimer House, Egerton Gardens, Knightsbridge, is as near to its original specification as is possible after 84 years of use.
In addition, not only is it a six-cylinder, 6 ½ Litre, it also carries classic Vanden Plas coachwork in the style of the Team cars but with all-metal, rather than part-fabric bodywork. It even features a driver’s armrest, side lockers, a trunk at its rear and a double spare wheel carrier. With these extras and the addition of high-power Zeiss headlamps, the total cost of the body alone was nearly twice that of standard VDP coachwork.
What cannot be over-emphasised, though, is the fact that its rarity of specification (less than two dozen cars – and that’s including those of the factory team – carried the 6 ½-litre engine with Vanden Plas open tourer bodywork) together with its original coachbuilding style and matching chassis, engine and body numbers makes it truly ‘once in a lifetime’, almost in fine art territory.
As the second day of the Quail Lodge auction occurs before both RM and Gooding, this Bentley could well be an indicator of this year’s Monterey-week market.