‘Barn-find’ Bentley soars to $1.1 million sale

The 1954 Bentley R-Type Continental was held in storage  for 15 years | Barons
The 1954 Bentley R-Type Continental was held in storage for 15 years | Barons

In what the Barons auction house described as “frenzied bidding,” a distressed “barn-find” 1954 Bentley R-Type Continental fastback sedan sold for a remarkable $1.1 million this week at the Sandown Park sale in Surrey, England. Continue reading

Pick of the Week: 1970 Saab 96 V4 factory rally car

The Saab 96 factory rally car is fully equipped for back-road conditions, including after dark
The Saab 96 factory rally car is all ready for back-road racing

This Pick of the Week is not your Uncle Olaf’s Saab. It’s an ultra-rare 1970 Saab 96 V4 factory rally car, a full-on dirt-road warrior built for FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) competition.

The seller says the car is outfitted with “a bare-metal race-car interior, full roll cage, racing seats with 5-point harnesses, Halda Tripmaster, gauges, dead pedal for the navigator, dual fire extinguishers, battery cutoff switch and many extra toggles on the dash.”

“Opening the hood reveals many unobtainium Saab race bits both seen and unseen,” the seller notes. “The 1,850cc motor was built by Saab engine guru Bengt-Erik Strom, (Strom built virtually all of the factory rally engines, including those of Per Eklund and Stig Bloomqvist), and features dual cross-flow manifolds feeding the dual Weber carbs. The valve train … includes many one-off machined pieces, and the engine is good for 145-150 horsepower.”

The interior is dedicated race car
The interior is dedicated race car

Painted in the brightest of blues, the rally Saab is listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by the Classic Car Gallery of Southport, Connecticut, with a list price of $24,900. That’s a pretty cheap entry point to the world of vintage rally racing, and the seller notes that if it were a Porsche or BMW similarly equipped, you’d have to add another zero to the price tag.

“This particular car has been written about extensively in Saab circles, is well-known, and one of the rarest Saabs,” the seller says. “With full FIA papers, and known history from new, this car is the most collectable of all Saabs, and would be a great addition to any collection.”

Watch for Pick of the Week cars every Friday on ClassicCars.com.

‘Blower’ Bentleys to run Italy’s classic Mille Miglia

A Blower Bentley passes through the narrow streets of an Italian town | Bentley Motors
A Blower Bentley passes through the narrow streets of an Italian town | Bentley Motors

Two legendary “Blower” Bentleys, the massive race cars that competed in such events as the 24 Hours of Le Mans during the early 1930s, will roar again on the highways of Italy for the 2014 edition of the Mille Miglia road rally.

Bentley Motors is bringing the 4½ Liter supercharged race cars to the world-famous classic car event, which happens May 15-19 on a 1,000-mile back-roads course through the Italian countryside.

The pair of Blower Bentleys includes the 1930 Le Mans Team Car once owned by Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin, the most-famous member of a group of British gentlemen racers known as the Bentley Boys. The other car is a former company demonstrator Blower with its original Vanden Plas Open, Sports Four Seater body.

A throng of spectators at last year's Mille Miglia | Bentley Motors
The throng of spectators at last year’s Mille Miglia | Bentley Motors

Both Bentleys have completed the modern Mille Miglia challenge several times, and with their dark green livery and distinctive rumbling exhaust note, they’re popular sightings for the thousands of spectators who line the route.

Bentley Motors will host a gathering of the Bentley Drivers Club in the historic city of Brescia on the afternoon before the race, with an international cadre of owners bringing their own cars for display.

“We plan to see Bentley’s Blowers and their drivers off in style,” said Steve Miller, secretary of the Bentley Drivers Club. “There will be Bentleys from all eras, some of them extremely rare, in Brescia to mark the start of Mille Miglia, and it should be a real celebration of great cars.”

The 2014 Mille Miglia, now in its 24th year, is a road-rally re-enactment of what was formerly a thousand-mile road race, which was run 24 times from 1927 through 1958 under the same name. Mille Miglia is Italian for “thousand miles.”

Bonhams readies London motorcar, automobilia auction

The 1927 Bentley 3-Liter Speed Model Tourer is one of the stars of the auction | Bonhams Auctions
The 1927 Bentley 3-Liter Speed Model Tourer is one of the stars of the auction | Bonhams Auctions

Coachbuilt Bentleys and an off-road truck built by Lamborghini highlight the Bonhams Collector’s Motor Cars and Automobilia Sale, scheduled for April 28 at London’s RAF Museum.

Bonham’s sale opens with a high-end collection of vintage automotive literature, posters, artworks and pre-war mascots, including a selection of valuable radiator ornaments by French glass designer Renè Lalique.

More than 70 classic cars will be offered after the automobilia sale, with a wide range of values and conditions, from a three-wheeled economy panel van and “barn-find” Jaguars to rare restored Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Alvis motorcars.

Macho Lamborghini LM 002 off-roader | Bonhams Auctions
Macho Lamborghini LM 002 off-roader | Bonhams Auctions

A classic 1927 Bentley 3-liter Speed Model Tourer with coachwork by Vanden Plas and painted a brilliant red will cross the block with an estimated worth of $170,000 to $250,000. A 1956 Bentley S-Series Continental Sports Saloon with shapely streamlined styling by H.J. Mulliner will also be offered, estimated at $470,000-570,000.

An unusual 1949 Bentley MKVI 4¼-Liter Countryman Shooting Brake with a woodie-wagon body by Harold Radford is valued at $120,000-150,000.

The 1987 Lamborghini LM 002, an over-the-top four-wheel-drive SUV known in the U.S. as “Rambo Lambo,” is valued at $130,000-200,000. One of just 328 LM 002s produced between 1986 and 1992, this one was originally owned by Italian racing driver Mario Ricci.

For more information about the Bonhams sale, visit the website at www.bomhams.com.

Mr. 25%’s ‘Beatles’ Bentley up for auction at Coys sale

Photo courtesy of Coys
Photo courtesy of Coys

The Beatles had just flown back to England after their American debut on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. Their flight into Heathrow airport landed at 7 a.m. U.K. time, and yet some 10,000 fans were there to celebrate Beatlemania’s success overseas.

Oh, that’s 10,000 fans and a film crew from the Pathe News, which was there to interview the Fab Four.

One of the first questions was how the Beatles were going to spend the money they’d brought back from America.

In unison, John, Paul, George and Ringo answered: “What money?”

“Doesn’t he (the band’s manager Brian Epstein) give any to you?” came the question as the camera rolled.

Have you seen that car of his?”

— George Harrison


“No, no,” said George, laughing, “Have you see that car of his?”

“That car” was parked just outside Heathrow’s VIP suite. It was a new Bentley S3 that had been purchased by the man known as “Mr. 25%,” which was Epstein’s cut of the band’s gross earnings. The car had been ordered late in 1963 and was picked up by Epstein’s valet while Epstein was in the U.S. with the Beatles.

Still wearing its original AJB400B license plates, Epstein’s Bentley will be among the cars up for auction March 11 at Coys Spring Classic sale in London.

Epstein kept the car until October 1965. Now, after 25 years of possession by its current owner, it is being offered up for auction with its original registration and a thick file of his historical documents, which detail such things as its repainting, the overhaul of its engine, and the conversion of its radio to receive FM signals.