A BENTLEY specialist is celebrating the restoration of a ‘house find’ 1928 model – that took more than 1,800 hours of preservation work.
William Medcalf Vintage Bentley, which is based in Liss, West Sussex, received a call in 2014 about a dismantled Bentley in a house in the middle of London that had to be cleared.
But when Medcalf went there, he said he discovered a scene like no other – even with his decades of experience of working with vintage Bentleys. A mountain of parts was haphazardly strewn throughout the house, garden and garages, creating a logistical challenge from the off.
And when he found the original coachwork on the roof of a local lock-up garage, things got really interesting. It turned out that the 1928 4.5-litre puzzle before him was one of only eight 4.5-litre Bentley bodies by famed coachbuilder Victor Broom – and the only known survivor.
The car was bought by a student for £350 in 1962, but having found it expensive to run he decided to lay it up and dismantle it for a restoration.
However, that restoration never happened, and the disassembled Bentley that had been resting for more than 50 years in London was ‘repatriated’ to William Medcalf Vintage Bentley, where the team got to work on preserving its originality.
The engine still has its original lead seal as fitted new in 1928, as well as its original finishes, while the interior wood and gauges have all been painstakingly cleaned. The car also sports some original leather features, such as the sump guard and spring gators. Every nut, bolt and washer was present and correct, and the whole car was kept as original as possible.
Everything that was original and in full working order was left alone for future generations, with only necessary overhauls being made. The chassis, for example, was coach-painted as it would have been in 1928, and the body was returned to Saxe blue over cream as finished in period.
Medcalf said: ‘Over-restoration of this car would have been sacrilege. Being one of the most original vintage Bentleys in the world, I felt it was my duty to keep all of the original finishes where possible, to lightly overhaul as required so that this car could serve as a benchmark to all future sympathetic restorations.’
The company’s efforts saw it nominated for Restoration of the Year at the Octane Awards earlier this month.
On SuperUnleaded.com: Bentley unveils the latest Continental GT – and it’s a stunner