Beaulieu autojumble had a bumper crop of stands – but a bumper didn’t crop up
Finally I got down to the Beaulieu Autojumble during autumn. I’d only ever been to the Hershey Swap Meet before, the biggest in the world, but while a shadow of Hershey’s airfield size Beaulieu’s stands were just as packed with parts, pieces, lamps, bikes, signs, toys and all the varied stuff which is junk to one person and the perfect finishing touch to another.
With 36,000 visitors Beaulieu is now the premier European swap meet, and the estate says it can’t expand beyond this year’s 2400 exhibitors. Which is just as well, frankly, as I only got round a third of the stands. Perhaps if I’d done both days I might have found the new rear bumper I need for my Mk2, or the Edwardian bicycle I think my sitting room needs as a focus.
I couldn’t stay for the Bonhams auction, though I was keen to see how the 3-litre Bentley shooting brake did. Many big pre-war cars were rebodied this way in the 1950s because there was a tax break for them, which offset the running costs of thirsty outdated machinery. Sadly many of those estate bodies have been swapped for fresh metalwork. Now I have a secret thing for special-bodied sporting estates. (Lynx XJS Eventer – finest ever load-lugger, and I deeply desire the Bentley Flying Star which Touring built in 2010.) So if I ran a Cricklewood Bentley, this would be the way I’d like to arrive. So much more stylish than yet another tourer or Le Mans rep. Survivors are rare, and not often as handsome and well-proportioned as this one. It went way over estimate at £124,000; I hope its new custodian appreciates how special it is.