Barn finds have always been the Holy Grail for classic and vintage car fans – the idea of opening a barn or garage to find a car trapped in time. But this 1928 vintage Bentley 4½ litre with Victor Broom Drophead coachwork wasn’t found in either. It was unearthed in a house in the middle of London…spread throughout the owner’s home.
William Medcalf, vintage Bentley specialist and owner of our sister company The Medcalf Collection, explains: “About a year ago a very nice lady called and said her father has passed away and that he had a couple of old cars in his house, one of which was a Bentley.”
William headed to the house near Kew Gardens and as soon as he arrived he began to spot bits of the car spread throughout the house. “I walked into the house and sure enough on the bare entrance hall floorboards was a Bentley cylinder block. I saw a clutch on the stairs, then the conrods – there were literally bits everywhere and throughout the three-storey house.”
The Bentley, one of only eight built in this specification and the only known survivor, had been bought back in 1962 by Stuart Wallace who was on the lookout for something a little different. The Bentley had cost him less than half the price of a Mini, but one thing Stuart had not banked on was the cost of running the car – it’s 4 ½ engine made it expensive to run and as a student, the Bentley was laid up.
Rather than simply being put into the garage, the Bentley was taken apart and the parts scattered throughout the house with every item being photographed and logged with some parts being stored in jars of oil.
As William and the team from the Medcalf Collection continued to explore the house, they found headlights under the bed, while the dashboard and radiator were hidden in the spare room.
William and the team had found enough to components to complete a rolling chassis – an incredible find, but sadly, it seemed, the bodywork had been lost to time.
Stuart’s daughter then informed William that her father had a garage. On the roof was the bodywork, stored in broad daylight for all to see. In the undergrowth that surrounded said garage lurked a tarpaulin – a tarpaulin that covered a large metal chest containing more missing pieces of the puzzle.
With all the parts gathered together the obvious step would have been to restore it, but William chose to take a different approach. “It can only be original once,” he adds. “Our plan was to keep it as preserved as possible. During its reassembly, the team added several new sections of wood to ensure the car was solid, but that was the extent the new materials – the rest is all original.”
Despite its 87 years, the Bentley still has its original lead seals in place, and is on its original wire wheels and original tires, though the inner tubes have been replaced. Incredibly, not a single nut and bolt, anywhere on the car, has been replaced either. The mileage on the speedo reads 39,000 miles which William believes to be correct.
The Medcalf Collection’s painstaking efforts to maintain the car’s originality make this Bentley truly unique – a genuine one-off, the likes of which may never be found again.
For more information visit The Medcalf Collection, here