“The 6 1/2-Litre Bentley”
I have read with a great deal of interest your excellent article on the 6 1/2-litre Bentley. I was particularly interested to read the following; “At chassis number LR 2788, the three-quarter engine-speed magneto and coil ignition became standard,” as I am now the proud possessor of this particular car No. 141+2783, and I am writing in the hope that the history of this car may prove of interest to some of your readers.
In 1929 my car, together with a twin, chassis number LR 2785, was purchased by the West Australian Government, on account of the criminal investigation branch of the Police Dept., in chassis form, and after fitting a locally-built saloon body, and installing radio and necessary equipment, went into service in 1930, thus bringing into being our Radio Patrol, more commonly known locally as the “Bentley Patrol.” These two cars saw almost continuous service in the above capacity for the next 17 years, during which time they struck terror into the hearts of all wrong-doers, and they were certainly the “pride of the force.” To quote an extract from our leading daily newspaper, commenting on their retirement from the “force”:
“There has hardly been a major crime committed in this State which has not been attended by one or the other of the Bentleys.”
These veterans of the police force were pensioned off early in 1947, and after running the gauntlet of government system, found themselves up for sale by public tender about September of the same year, but there were very few “takers” and offers were considered unacceptable, so tenders were re-called, closing on January 15th, 1948, and a friend and myself went in together for the two cars and the spare parts, as the Government was anxious to dispose of the whole as a unit, and would not split for tenderers for only one car or parts. Our tender being accepted, we finally took delivery an February 16th, 1948, about 12 months after their retirement. I put my car on the road for about six months, during the overhaul of my business car, but it is now “on ice” pending a complete rebuilding operation, including a complete new body on T.T. lines.
The other car, LR 2785, is at present owned by Mr. Ronald P. Gray, of 5, Knutsford Avenue, North Perth, who is using the car for long-distance business travelling, and is getting very good service despite the fact that it has not been overhauled since taking delivery, and the police department had allowed them to get pretty “low.”
In conclusion, I would like to mention that when we took delivery of the cars from the plant engineer’s workshop, the parting was too much for the mechanic who assembled them, and who had “nursed” them through their long and chequered career, such is the mark these grand old cars leave on one.
I am, Yours, etc.,
A. A. Vance.