SPECIALS SALES BOOM
Love ’em or hate ’em, demand for modified classics is growing fast
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.