Barn-found Bentley brings $596,670 at auction

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1936 Bentley was owned for many years by a British World War II bomber pilot | H&H Classics photos

That barn-found NOS (new old stock) 1936 Bentley 4 1/2-Litre with original Vanden Plas Tourer coachwork — and some amazing history — sold for £454,250 ($596,670) at H&H Classics auction this week at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, England.

The high bid was more than double the car’s high pre-sale estimated value. The car had only two owners since new, the second one acquiring the car in 1952 for £260.

That second owner was former Royal Air Ford pilot Charles Blackham, who was part of a bombing raid on Hitler’s mountain-top retreat in the Bavarian Alps in April 1945. He later made emergency food drops on the German/Dutch border in support of people facing famine.

Car sold in barn-found condition

According to H&H Classics, Blackham drove the car for 36 years before his age forced him to take it off the road. He put the car into storage, where it was discovered after his death. 

The car was one of 10 put together from new old stock five years after Rolls-Royce took over Bentley and was one of six equipped with 4.5-liter engines; the others had 3.5-liter powerplants.

Overall, the H&H Classics auction posted £3 million ($3.94 million) in sales with a 72 percent sell-through rate.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Bust all the mechanical stuff loose with patience and synthetics, kill the vermin, tune it up ’36 style, and drive the bejesus out of it, just like it sits. Good God, man, ya don’t get to drive an original ’30’s Bentley even once a century… There’s plenty of people that can true and line the wheels, Coker makes the correct tires, and early Bentley mechanical systems are built like battleship gear- just fix this thing for driving, and laugh like a mad scientist as you crunch through the gears. Why museum such a beautiful piece of history, made to drive?
    Put on the leather, the goggles, and the scarf, take a cruise.
    I want this.
    Ryan Corman
    Fargo ND

    • Well said Ryan. As much as I love car museums, I much prefer to see these out on the road. And not in parade laps either.
      There’s a guy in my hometown whose daily is a 37 Ford coupe with a worked flathead And he’s not afraid of giving it some welly either. All original interior and running gear. Things a beast.

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