1926 'Big Six' Bentley
The Standard Six or 'Big Bentley,' as the model was known, before the Speed Six was introduced, whereupon the Big Six became the Standard Six. For those who complained that they missed the 'bloody thump' of the 4-cylinder engine of the 3-litre (unveiled in 1919, and sold from 1921 to 1926), WO introduced the 4 1/2-litre from 1927. The pinnacle of Bentleydom was the 8-litre of 1930; the swan-song was that rare model the 4-litre. The body was even roomier than it looks; there were two occasional seats in the rear compartment which swivelled on posts so as to face forwards or rearwards. This sale photograph was taken in Primrose Street by Bruce (Nye). Note the quick-release radiator cap, the Lucas P100 headlamps and the substantial bumpers added by Father. Odd that he had removed the spare wheel.
One day Mr Tyreshoes (I don't think that was his real name) told Father that he knew of a 6 1/2-litre Bentley - 'It's at Old Thoday's place, at Jack's Hill.' Father couldn't resist this, and off they went.
Jack's Hill is on the old A1 at Stevenage, and Jack's Hill Café was a favourite stopping off point for hungry travellers, especially late at night. (I remember once ordering there 'sausage, potato and onion', a favourite dish. The man laboriously wrote the words on a pad, then turned and shouted 'S-P-O' through the hatch, and threw the paper away. That sort of thing sticks in the mind.)
Old Thoday's place was next to the Café, and built of five-gallon oil drums filled with earth. In the circumstances, it was remarkably cosy and smelt like the cellar at 142 in which we had spent so many nights at the beginning of the war, before the pre-cast concrete air-raid shelter was built around the three-piece suite.
It was from this olfactorily reminiscent construction that Old Thoday emerged, attempting to straighten a piece of thick wire with a very small pair of pliers, volunteering that he was "making a bonnet-hinge for an Hispano-Suiza".
'Oh yes,' said Father. 'Do you have any Rolls-Royces?'
I don't know why he asked that.
'No,' replied the other. He paused - 'But I've got some Royces rolled.' He fell about.
Then Mr Tyreshoes became proprietorial and showed Father the 6 1/2-litre. It was terrifyingly huge, and the criss-cross ash frame of the roof was like a heavy-duty garden trellis and somewhat sinister as it formed a support for adventitious vegetation. The body was filthy and covered in chicken droppings, etc inside and out. The car had belonged to Richard Ormond Shuttleworth of Trust fame, killed in an air crash before the war.
The transaction went as follows:
Father (to Old Thoday): 'How much do you want for, it?'
Old Thoday: 'I can't sell it to you, you're not in the trade.'
Mr Tyreshoes (to Old Thoday): 'How much do you want for it?'
Old Thoday: '£60.'
Father (to Mr Tyreshoes): 'How much do you want for it?'
Mr Tyreshoes: '£80.'
And that's how we got a 6 1/2-litre Bentley ...
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