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1926 Bentley 3/4½-Litre Saloon

A veteran of numerous Goodwood Revivals & formerly the property of The Hon. Alan Clark MP

Coachwork by. Park Ward

Chassis No. AP 319

Body No. 3304

Engine No. HT 1645

Registration No. KU 7592

+44 (0)1869 244 255

info@robertglover.com

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For those present at the 2019 Goodwood Revival Meeting, the fantastic site of over 30 vintage Bentleys thundering into Lavant corner for the first lap of the Bentley Centenary celebration race was certainly memorable. Not only for the fantastic spectacle that it was, but for the fact that leading the race was a 1926 Bentley Park Ward Saloon. Indeed, when the commentator announced that Patrick Blakeney-Edwards in the Park Ward Saloon was overtaking the Blower Bentley for the lead, your author was perhaps not alone in thinking that someone might have spiked his Goodwood Ale with some illegal contraband! Nonetheless the commentators were speaking the truth and said Park Ward Saloon is the handsome example we offer for sale here…

Anyone who read the history of the highly original Bentley 4½-Litre Saloon that we sold last year, will understand that Bentley 4½-Litres in closed form are extremely rare – indeed the discovery of rocking horse poo is only somewhat rarer occurrence. Copy service records indicate that this car, chassis no. AP 319 was sold new via Central Garages to a Mr. Ernest Johnson of Bradford, Yorkshire, registered KU 7592, and fitted with saloon coachwork of Weymann construction by Gurney Nutting. The service record notes one change of ownership before The War when, in 1934, it passed to a Mr. E. R. Hill of Surrey who had twin SU Carburettors fitted by Bentley Motors in an attempt to enhance the car’s performance. By this time ‘KU 7592’ had been fitted with an open sports touring body, thought to be by Corsica. As will all vintage Bentleys, the service records end before the outbreak of the Second World War when the works service was closed, but the ownership trail is taken up by the Bentley Drivers’ Club records. These show that in 1948 ‘KU 7592’ was owned by Lt. B.H.C. Nation, Royal Navy who in turn sold the car to Flight Lt. D.A.J. Draper DFC. Flight Lt. Draper was a noted Spitfire pilot who had earned his Distinguished Flying Cross for showing exceptional gallantry during active operations against the enemy in the air. Draper sold ‘KU 7592’ to a Mr. J. P. Graham who owned the car for a short while before selling it to Mr. G. A. Cox in March 1956.

Mr. Cox retained ownership of the Bentley for around 40 years, during which time he fitted engine number HT 1645, a late 3-Litre example. A photograph of Mr. Cox driving ‘KU 7592’ can be found in the Bentley Drivers Club review, No. 266. It is thought that for the last 20 years the car was not used a great deal by Mr. Cox and in 1996 it was reluctantly sold to The Hon. Alan Clark MP who set about re-commissioning it. Amusing letters between Clark and the various parties entrusted with the works are on file.

The current owner, an internationally renowned restorer of vintage Bentleys and exotic early machinery, purchased ‘KU 7592’ from Clark’s widow Jane in 2007. Photographs on file show him driving the car away from Saltwood Castle and demonstrate that, although the Bentley was in rather poor condition and the body beyond economical repair, he had managed to get the car running so that Jane could see it on the move once more. The car soldiered on for some time before the decision was taken to fully rebuild it. With a gaggle of children now in tow, the remit was to rebuild ‘KU 7592’ as a fast and useable family car suitable for vintage events. Incredibly, the current owner had discovered and purchased an original Park Ward saloon body, No. 3304, originally fitted to a 4½-Litre (chassis no. DS 3559) and so the obvious choice was to rebuild ‘KU 7592’ and fit the Park Ward body. Chassis no. AP 319 is a late standard long chassis 3-Litre, and thus chassis is pretty much identical to an early 4½-Litre model chassis. Furthermore, as chassis no. AP 319 was fitted with enclosed coachwork when new, it not only made total sense to fit the Park Ward saloon body but it is also made it an extremely easy operation. It is interesting to note that the body fitted straight onto the chassis with absolutely no modifications required to either. The engine is also a late 3-Litre unit (no. HT 1645) and thus with a similar sump, valve chest and magneto turret to a 4½-Litre model, lent itself to a conversion to 4½-Litre specification by the fitment of a new cylinder block, in turn enhancing the power considerably to pull the enclosed coachwork. A full listing of the work carried out to the engine is on file but it is worth mentioning here that, as part the total rebuild and conversion to 4½-Litre specification, the engine was aslo fitted with a new crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons. As well as the engine work, the front and rear axles were rebuilt as well as the gearbox and steering box, which again was fitted with 4½-Litre type gears for lighter steering.

The restoration was completed in 2011 and ‘KU 7592’ was almost immediately pressed into action at numerous VSCC events and others. A real wolf in sheep’s clothing, ‘KU 7592’ has never ceased to amaze the crowds wherever it has been campaigned. Seeing any handsome enclosed vintage Bentley is always a pleasure, but seeing one roar up Prescott or around the famous Goodwood circuit quicker than all of its open counterparts is something that has always pleased and dumbfounded the crowds. Regardless of the Bentley’s incredible competition record, it was never the intended purpose of the rebuild, merely a happy by-product of a top-quality restoration. ‘YU 7592’ was really rebuilt as a fast vintage family car and it has also performed that task admirably. With the gaggle of children getting older, and number one son already behind the wheel at vintage events ‘KU 7592’ is now offered for sale ready to be enjoyed by the next owner. Being a rare closed vintage Bentley it is invited to many top-flight events, but could equally be used for daily driving all year round, being well able to keep up with modern traffic and exceed 100mph if necessary or allowed!

Rarely does the opportunity arise to purchase any closed vintage Bentley, and it would be almost impossible to find another enclosed vintage car with the performance of ‘KU 7592’ as so ably demonstrated by both the current owner and Patrick Blakeney-Edwards at Goodwood. It is very hard to put into words just how good this vintage Bentley Saloon really is and thus our best advice is to come to the showroom, go for a drive in the car, whatever the weather, and see for yourself.