Love ’em or hate ’em, de­mand for mod­i­fied clas­sics is grow­ing fast

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Buying & Selling -

Nu­mer­ous vin­tage sa­loons were bro­ken up

Noth­ing in the vin­tage and clas­sic world po­larises opin­ions like mod­i­fied cars, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to lat­ter-day cre­ations that have seen a per­fectly rea­son­able sa­loon shed its body for some­thing more sport­ing.

In the post-war years and through to the early 1970s, nu­mer­ous vin­tage sa­loons were bro­ken up to cre­ate spe­cials, but with rel­a­tively low val­ues at the time the need to pre­serve and con­serve wasn’t al­ways held in high re­gard.

Lat­ter-day spe­cials, and es­pe­cially Bentley MkVI and R-type builds, have cre­ated their own seg­ment within the Bentley world and many built in the 1960s have be­come clas­sics in their own right.

A pair of Bentley spe­cials be­ing of­fered by SWVA – one com­pleted and one par­tially built – fol­low on from the ‘Rusty’ Russ-Turner spe­cial built in the 1960s on the un­der­pin­nings of a ‘Derby’ Bentley sa­loon, which had pre­vi­ously been owned by As­ton Martin boss Vic­tor Gauntlett, Bentley spe­cial­ist Stan­ley Mann and for­mer Lib­eral leader David Steel. Of­fered at Sil­ver­stone’s Race Retro sale, the car gen­er­ated strong enough in­ter­est to make £123,750.

Many 1930s Ri­leys have been turned into spe­cials. Their tech­ni­cal so­phis­ti­ca­tion makes them es­pe­cially ap­peal­ing for use in com­pe­ti­tion.

HVA’s project 1937 Ri­ley Sprite, which was of­fered in Fe­bru­ary, proved that de­mand for spe­cials in need of fin­ish­ing is high, es­pe­cially with those want­ing to get into his­toric mo­tor­sport. Based on a derelict Kestrel and bought by the ven­dor 30 years ago, a lot of the hard work had al­ready been done but the en­gine was in need of a re­build and the body­work still need to be fin­ished off. Given a pre-sale es­ti­mate of £8k-£12k, it sur­prised many by sell­ing for £20,500.

The prices of the Russ-Turner Bentley and HVA’s Ri­ley might be be­yond the reach of many en­thu­si­asts, but it is pos­si­ble to buy a pre-war spe­cial project for much less out­lay. HVA of­fered an Austin Seven Ruby long-wheel­base spe­cial

(chas­sis, en­gine, gear­box, axles, tyres, etc.) loosely as­sem­bled into a rolling chas­sis with a £500-£600 es­ti­mate and it sold for £580. There was plenty still to do, but good spares sup­port made this a vi­able project for a com­pe­tent DIY-er.

Kestrel-based Ri­ley Sprite spe­cial sold for £20,500 – well over twice its es­ti­mate.

‘Rusty’ Russ-Turner’s 1939 Bentley made over £123k at Sil­ver­stone Auc­tion’s Race Retro sale.

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