1949 Bentley Mark VICabriolet Pinin Farina
- Year of manufacture1949
- Car typeOther
- Lot number131
- ConditionOriginal condition
- Number of seats2
- Exterior colourGrey
- Fuel typePetrol
Chassis n° B435CD
Engine n° B468C
- Rare collaboration between Bentley and Pinin Farina
- Unique and highly elegant coachwork
- Meticulously maintained and carefully used car
- High quality restoration
- Unique creation, exhibited at the 1949 Geneva Motor Show
- Collection Dr.Arnold Kawlath
This Bentley, chassis n°B435CD, began its life at the end of 1947 when a certain Mr Willi Spieler paid a visit to the Pinin Farina workshops (still written as two words then), to order a cabriolet on a Mark VI chassis. It was fitted with the standard 4 257cc six-cylinder engine fed by twin SU carburettors but Spieler asked for eleven modifications to the chassis. The coachwork was aluminium, resulting in a lighter car than the conventional steel-bodied Bentleys, making it more enjoyable to drive. The rolling chassis left the Bentley workshops on 16 May 1948, and by 15 June it was on a boat, crossing the channel from Dover to Dunkerque. From there, it was transported by truck to Turin to be delivered to the coachbuilder. The car was completed in time to be exhibited at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1949 before being delivered by the Garage de l'Athénée on 27 April to its owner, Willi Spieler, with the British registration BM 1949.
It appears that Pinin Farina built two other bodies on the same Bentley MkVI chassis, but these were both coupés. The founder of the company, Batista "Pinin" Farina would have been responsible for the design and supervised the build. His son Sergio Pininfarina, when asked while he was running the company, and also his grandson Paolo, were reported to have said that this Bentley cabriolet was one of the founder's favourite creations.
The car was seen regularly in the streets of Zurich until the owner's death. Ralph Hemmi, a dealer from Montreal who knew the car, made an offer and imported it to Canada. As the Bentley was in rather mediocre condition, he decided to restore it and began dismantling and carefully packing the pieces. The magnitude of the task discouraged him and the car lay untouched until one day an enthusiast called Philip Chartrand, from Westmount, showed an interest. Despite having restored a total of 48 cars, he recognised the difficulty of working on this Bentley in bits. He began the assembly, sent the engine and transmission to be refurbished by specialists Frank & Bill Cooke, of Vintage Garage, North Brookfield (Massachusetts). He then set about restoring the body, with the help of his family and a panel beater, and finished the job with eight coats of paint. According to Mr Chartrand, " The utopia lasted three months. Then blisters started to appear in the paint, where the panel beater had welded with acetylene, which caused a chemical reaction with the aluminium. " Following this unfortunate discovery, the car lay untouched for two years, until these unforeseen reactions had finished. Then, with the help of Richard Grenon, the experienced coachbuilder from Montreal, the Bentley was once again stripped, and the parts in question cleaned with acid to remove all traces of the unwanted product. Reassembled and painted once more, the car was sent again to Hilborn Motor Car Interiors, in Reseda, California, to be fitted with elegant blue upholstery and mohair hood. Finally, it was brought back to Montreal for the final touches in the restoration of a creation that approached perfection.
Since 1992, this unique Bentley has taken part in many prestigious events and won numerous awards. Amongst these : 1993, first place in class Q (Pininfarina coachwork) at Pebble Beach ; 1994, Rolls-Royce National Meadowbrooke ; 1997, "Best Car in Show" of "British Invasion" in Stowe, Vermont ; 1998, participation in the Louis Vuitton China Run ; 2000, Concours d'Elégance Louis Vuitton at Bagatelle ; 2006, displayed in the Concours at Pebble Beach ; 2013, first prize in the Concours d'Elégance in Cannes.
Since being restored in the 1990s, the car has covered approximately 7 300 km. It comes with documentation including a "Certificate of Registration and Origin of the chassis" issued by the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club, copies of Bentley worksheets, FIVA identity papers and a host of photographs showing the car at different stages of its life.
Since 2009, it has belonged to the avid German collector M. Arnold Kawlath, who has driven it regularly and taken part in rallies such as the Milan-San Remo and the Paris-Deauville with his family.
Here is a rare opportunity to acquire a unique car that has had a limited number of owners and has benefitted from a restoration of the highest standards, created through the collaboration of two of the most revered names in automobile history, Bentley and Pinin Farina.