Buying a Bentley

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A reader has very kindly made available to me some correspondence involving buying a Bentley. Not from any of the Motor Sport advertisers who specialise in these; the car involved was a Speed Model 3-litre, new in 1924. The minutiae of the deal makes me wonder why anyone should want to manufacture such things as cars when turning out ovenchips would surely be simpler?

The transaction in which so many letters passed back and forth between Cricklewood and Wooton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire, was to the Bradley Garage there, when a Mr Mauren had decided to trade in a standard long-wheelbase four-seater 3-litre for the latest short-chassis Speed Model. Delivery of this was promised at first by September 1924. Much correspondence ensued over paint, hood patterns and wheel colours, the last in black unless one guinea was paid for a different finish. The car was given order no S895.

Twin SUs were to be fitted in place of the Smiths carburettor, at a cost of £13 10/- with 15% commission for the garage. Late in August the chassis were ready to go to the coachbuilders (unspecified, but actually Vanden Plas) the cost of the exchange of old Bentley for new being £285, with £40 commission for the garage. The coachbuilders advised that the chosen hood colour was not on, as brown would not stand up to weather or waterproofing. Bentley Motors thought it unwise to leave the colours to the coachbuilders. A set of side curtains would cost £13.15 (10% for the garage) and would take three days to fit.

Progress was being made, delivery now promised by the end of September, a few extras like the SUs and stove enamelling the wheels to match the chocolate-brown body adding £18 15/- to the 1285 part-exchange price. The chassis number of the Speed Model had been quoted as 751 (a Mulliner-bodied car supplied a month earlier) but on the last day of September this was corrected to 774. The new Bentley was registered DD 5498 and the deal almost closed. Except that the petrol had not been added to the garage’s credit a/c and now nine gallons, at 13/10d, was allowed against the returned clutch parts from the old car, less the cost of refining the cone. The brown wheels had to be fitted later.

The Speed Model Bentley was serviced at the works in May and September 1926 at respective charges of £10 18/11 and £26 17/6, after the latest SU manifolding with the new slow running adjustment had been supplied, against the older set, but Cricklewood queried whether a flange on this had been broken off in servicing or on the road, before allowing credit. In the end £27 12/61 was allowed against 10/3d for carriage, with 15% off for the garage. The Bentley guarantee applied so long as the car was not exhibited or raced without company permission, and did not weigh more than a total of 28cwt on a chassis that weighed 22cwt 3qt. I hope Mr Mauren enjoyed his motoring.