1929 Bentley 6½-Litre Sedanca de Ville by H.J. Mulliner

(c) Vin Callcut 2002-2017. Small extracts can be used with acknowledgements to 'Oldcopper.org' website.

Helpful comments are very welcome.

Registration Numbers carried

 GK3664, AKH1, SR 1929 (NSW, Aus) 

873 HYV (UK)  GK3664

Chassis No KR2687  Engine No KR2686


Having owned this car for eleven years during the 1960s, I have been interested to follow its adventurous history.  From the UK, it has travelled to Australia, America, Italy, Germany, France and was selected for exhibition in the Crewe museum of the present Bentley company.  In September 2016, Sotheby’s sold it at auction for £358,400 plus commission, a hundred times the sum that I had received when I sold it.

1929 – Built by Bentley Motors, Cricklewood, London, body built by H J Mulliner.  Exhibited at the 1929 Motor Show and featured in the 'Autocar' Olympia issue number on 25th October 1929.
Some owners and dealers
1929                 Sold at the Motor Show to John Davie.
1935                 Bought by Major R. T. Hon. F Craven
1952                 J. B. Sibley bought it for £50 and attended BDC events.
1957                 A. K. Harrison
?                       John N. Barlow
1961                 Vin A. Callcut  (not V H Callcutt)
1961                 P. M. Mackie
1962                 Vin A. Callcut, BDC member.  (not V H Callcutt)
1972                 David Scott Moncrieff
1974                 Adrian M. Garrett who had the carburation changed to triple SUs.

?                         Fiskens of London
?                         Sandra Roberts
?                         Graeme Miller, president of the Bentley Drivers’ Club of Australia, New South Wales registration SR 1929.  Kept for 20 years and sold with a request that original body be preserved.
2005 ?               Syd & Nicki Reinhardt, Middle Cove, Australia bought at auction in Sydney with the purpose of rebodying as a Le Mans replica but decided to keep it original.  (Pebble Beach, California 16/8/2009 shots and 2011 Bentley Factory video).  Shipped back to UK for the BDC 2007 tour of France then left for exhibition in the Bentley Company museum in Crewe.
See :  Bentley Drivers Club NSW Region Magazine, Jan-Feb 2008 
Syd Reinhardt  pp9-12 ‘Bentley Boys’, Jan-Feb 2008
Nicki Reinhardt, pp13-15 ‘The UK & Europe in a 1929 Bentley’,
2011                 BDC ‘Britain by Bentley’ tour and visit to Bentley factory in Crewe, 4th June-4th July.  Video (at 1:11min) introduced by Jenny Ford, president.
.. ?.....                   C F Mirbach, Anzing, near Munich, Germany  (ben65j27)
2013                 R M Sotheby’s Classic Car Auctions, Villa Erba, Como.   25th May Lot 114  Unsold? at €540,000. Catalogue listing.
2013 ?               Edward Carter who had it repainted in a tasteful green and black livery and reunited with the original registration number of GK3664.
2016                 R M Sotheby’s Battersea Park Auction, 7th September Lot 163 from the estate of Mr Edward Carter. Sold for £258,400 plus commission to ? ? ? Catalogue listing.

Additions and corrections will be welcome. Email [vin (at) btinternet.com].

KR 2687 History - Some details

In February 1961, friend John Barlow wondered if I would like to buy his Bentley 6½ limousine.  There had been no takers elsewhere and he was thinking of scrapping it.  While open bodied tourers and Le Mans replicas were popular at that time, saloons were not.  My preference was for an all-weather car and the idea of preserving the body appealed.  It had previously had a Barker patent sedanca-de-ville configuration to allow the front of the roof to be rolled back.  The folding support arms were still there but with the fabric fixed so that was restorable.  The price was negotiated as £90 provided that John could keep the excellent Lucas P100 headlamps.  The previous owner, Alexander Kenneth Harrison, had re-registered the car with his personal AKH 1 number but the old number plates for GK3664 came with it.

KR 2687 History - Some more details
   

 

GK3664

This is an original number plate still in my posession.

This and most other photos are originals. Others are copied from the site links above and elsewhere.

 

It was bought as a limousine with fixed roofing over the drivers but converted back to sedanca de ville with roofing fabric and the original arms.

I was in digs at the time in Kensington, London and had no problem parking in the street.  Many other similarly interesting cars could be seen in the streets at the time and in frequent use.

   
RAC badge

There was an RAC full member badge mounted on the radiator.  To save my conscience I joined the RAC, albeit only as an associate Member.
Petrol – 12-15mpg typical.    There were no problems with the Smiths’ 5-jet carburettor

   
wedding

Taken in April 1961, this photo shows the roof still intact, the car at that time was still a limousine.

   
CND march

During a trip Westwards from London the car had to slow to pass the CND march. The £90 car was subject to many rude comments from those who assumed that we were rich!

   
rear lamps

Parked outside in a New Southgate rosd, the rubber rear light did suffer damage from a neighbour who thought that driving right up to hit it was a positive technique to use to position and stop his car.  He claimed that this was the common way to drive in America! 

   
Elham rally

In June 1961  we went to visit a steam fair at Elham in Kent as visitors and were offered free entry if we joined parade.  The limousine has yet to have the driver’s roof converted back to sedanca form.

   
Danbury Way

By July 1962 – the car was garaged at 7, Danbury Way, Woodford Green, Essex.  To house the car a 30ft garage extension was built complete with long pit.

   
open roof

As bought the car was a limousine since the roof canvas over the front was fixed.  The Barker sedanca arms were still usable so that part of the roof was re-canvassed with turnbuckle fasteners to permit use as a sedanca.  This was much appreciated by the driver and co-driver while the ladies in the back could prevent being windblown with the division window wound up.

   
pistons

In June 1964 the engine of the 6½ Bentley was taken out for overhaul including new main bearings, pistons & rings.  The pistons were replaced with speed six versions giving a higher compression ratio. The car was re-tyred with second hand 700x21” tyres that were then available off scrapped Rolls Pll hearses.

   
engine

This photo was posed for the local press showing comfortable access to the engine.  The water cooling system needed attention. 

radiator The leaking radiator was sent for re-core.  They offered to chrome plate the nickel-silver radiator case on a ‘now or never’ basis so and this was agreed to avoid the need to repolish every time there was a spot of rain. 
Merlin pump

The water pump had lost much of its interior by cavitation erosion. No replacements were easily available but I was told that the water pump used by Rolls for the Merlin engine of a Spitfire would be the right size.  It was no problem to find a surplus, superb item of precision casting x-WD.  Unfortunately it was unusable due to being the opposite rotation!  A friend at Ciba-Geigy offered a high grade of Araldite that was resistant to heat and water.  It re-lined the old pump admirably.

   
exhaust The exhaust system had been simplified to do without the rear silencer.  Instead a 2 ½” copper pipe led straight to the rear and resulted in a significantly loud exhaust note.  A second silencer was fitted with suitable pipework over the back axle.
   
interior

The upholstery leather was in need of significantly expensive attention.  To try to achieve results I bought a stock of Amblerhide at auction together with an industrial sewing machine.  However, sessions at a local evening class convinced me that the skills needed to do an acceptable job of tailoring and piping were not easily achievable and the project was aborted.  As restored professionally it looks immaculate.

   
toolbox

August 1964  Bentley holiday with Ted and Ann Amery (BDC, open 3 litre) and Jan. 

Using the Dover-Calais ferry gave more problems than usual.  When loading at Dover the French ferrymen tried to wave the car up to the top car deck via a steep slope with a toolbox-killing angle at the top.  I refused, pointing to the invaluable and vulnerable tool box under the running board.  Despite my protests they insisted so the car had to climb the slope slowly and straddle the angle to show that access to the top deck was impossible.  After this delay to the loading, we did travel on the lower deck.

   
Hochtannberg

On disembarcation at Calais we were delayed for a while by the inquisitive French custom officers who wanted a good look at the car.  After about ten minutes on tickover there was quite a build-up of oil on the pistons.  Given the ‘go’, a good press on the accelerator left behind us a thick cloud of blue smoke which made us feel better.  Perhaps it should not have been so satisfying.  Despite the occasional smoke the oil consumption appeared moderate.  The oil float level dropped to only 7/8ths full over the next few days. The route proposed was via Strasburg, Bavaria, Shaffhausen, Rhine Falls, Alberschwende, Hochtannberghohe and Arlberg pass to St Anton, Fern pass, Innsbruck, Unterturkheim museum (Stuttgart).

   

St Anton

Ted Amery, the garage owner, one of his mechanics and myself outside his workshops.

 In fact the oil float had stuck and the level was much lower.  While dropping down from the Arlberg pass the limited amount of engine oil ran forward away from the sump pump and the big ends failed with a clatter and a spray of whitemetal round the inside of the crankcase.  Luckily, the Mercedes agent in St Anton had done his apprenticeship with Austro-Daimler in Vienna and was very happy to re-metal the big end bearings provided that Ted & I dropped the sump, took the bearing shells out and replaced them after re-metalling and machining to size.  Without the aid of a micrometer, he had machined them so closely that the oil pressure was now higher than before the problem arose.

   
brake drums

Newly cast Speed Six brake drums with finned cooling were bought and fitted but braking performance in normal traffic was not improved.

   
nurburgring

There was a 1966 Bentley tour with BDC members Dave King and Ted Barlow to southern Germany via the a lap of the old 23km Nürburgring track and the home of a school pen friend Weilburg/Lahn. 

Passhohe

It was written up in ‘Three Men in a B’ Bentley Drivers Club Review, No84 April 1967, pp 124-128.

warren wood

Local Bentley Drivers Club met at Warren Wood public house on the first Wednesday of each month.  Many spares were available at about £5 each.

   
beer juj

After a BDC meeting at the Black Swan, Bexley it was found that an empty pint beer mug had stayed on the running board for the 20 miles journey back through the Blackwall tunnel and home.

   
 

The Downside

   
Cornwall In August 1967 there was a holiday trip to the superb scenery of the South West.  Navigating the narrow Cornish lanes with their tall drystone walls was always interesting.  The drivers of any oncoming cars took one look at what was facing them and courteously pulled in as near to their wall as possible.  They always left the 6½ the responsibility of squeezing between the other car and the nearside stone wall without touching either.
   
traffic

As we returned towards London in slow holiday traffic it was vital to keep a safe distance from the car in front.  Suddenly there was an impact a few cars ahead of the queue.  That meant a sudden stop or the 6½ would make quite a dent in the rear of the car in front.  At slow speed the servo did not help the brakes much so there had to be an avoiding swerve.  By the time we stopped the radiator was alongside and level with the driver of the car in front.  He looked up gratefully.  Obviously the chassis was not designed to cope with modern traffic.

   
chitty chitty

In 1968 the film of Ian Fleming’s story of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ was launched  and was much enjoyed by most who saw it.  As a result, many local children saw a resemblance and called out loudly the name of the fantasy car as we passed.

   
autobahn While the 6 ½ was still capable of a good turn of speed, the car was cruised at no higher than 70mph to respect the second hand tyres.  This became too slow for modern traffic, alarmingly so on the autobahns where even in the inside lane the commercials were impatient.
The cars were beginning to rise in value.  This was of no benefit to existing owners and led to spare parts becoming scarcer and more expensive.  However, some entrepreneurs did begin to make useful pattern parts.  
House

A change of employment meant that the time had come for us to move house.  Finding an affordable family house in suburban London complete with double garage was difficult.   The only alternative was to sell the car and use the money to help buy a larger house. In August 1972 the car was advertised in ‘Motor Sport’ and sold for nearly £4,000.  It then appeared in the showrooms of David Scott Moncreiff.

Just to confirm that my Bentley Days were over, I listed my beloved BDC badged green tie with slight oil and beer stains for a grossly inflated price.  Someone actually bought it!  
  The car was later reported to be in the hands of a leading restoration expert with the body well separated from the chassis. It was in good hands.

A Few Other Photos

 
   
Sibley

J. B. Sibley with the car during the 1950s.

   
wedding

Proudly used by Graeme Miller during the 1980s. He was able to contact me as a previous owner and share some thoughts.

   
Pebble Beach

Syd Reinhardt took her to Pebble Beach Concous in California during 2009.

   
Crewe Museum

'Welcome to Bentley Motors' during the 2011 BDC 'Britain by Bentley' tour prior to being left with the Museum.

   
flat car

Bearing the UK re-registration of 873 HYV she is on a flat wagon on the way to Italy.

   
   
   
Mirbach Taken during the 2000s, she bears a temporary plate by C F Mirbach, Anzing, near Munich, Germany.