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1936 Bentley once owned by war hero who bombed Hitler sold for £453,250

LONDON.- This magnificent car was previously owned by former RAF pilot Charles Blackman who took part in the raid to bomb Hitler’s mountain-top retreat in the Bavarian Alps in April 1945 sold today 20th March at Duxford Imperial War Museum with H&H Classics for £454,250.

Mr Blackham served in the RAF 550 Squadron and took part in the raid to bomb Hitler's famous mountain-top retreat in the Bavarian Alps in April 1945. Later that month he made emergency food drops on the German/Dutch border where people were facing famine.

Charles Blackham drove the classic convertible for 36 years before his age forced him to take it off road. The car then spent the last 30 years locked up at his home in Stockport, Greater Manchester, but was unearthed after his death in January aged 96. One of just six ever made by Bentley, the 4.5-litre classic is now being sold off as part of his estate.

And despite being covered in rust and with torn leather seats, the 83-year-old car was valued between £150,000 and £200,000 prior to the sale at Duxford in Cambridgeshire on March 20, but it more than doubled that estimate.

This fantastic ‘barn-find’ Bentley was sold by H&H Classics at their sale in Duxford, Imperial War Museum, Cambridge with a pre-sale estimate of £150,000 to £200,000. Last time it changed hands it went for just £260.

The car is one of just six W.O. Bentley 4 1/2 Litre cars assembled by the Service Department from new old stock parts in 1936, five years after Bentley were taken over by Rolls Royce. It has matching numbers and original Vanden Plas Tourer coachwork. The car has had just two owners from new, its current owner since 1952.

In 1936 Nobby Clarke and Hubert Pike came up with the idea of using the stockpile of new old stock and reconditioned parts that they had inherited from Rolls-Royce’s 1931 takeover of Bentley to produce new W.O. Bentleys. This kept staff busy in down time and also used up spare parts, a win win result. Ten cars were built in this way, six 4.5 litre cars and four 3.5 litre cars using the most desirable Bentley components.

Damian Jones, Head of Sales at H&H Classics says: “This is the ultimate Bentley 'barnfind' in the marque's centenary year. It is a really wonderful discovery for all fans of the marque made even more special in the make’s 100th birthday year. It sold last time for just £260 so this time we believed it would do a thousand times better and it did not disappoint.”

Human frailty means that it is now impossible to buy a W.O. Bentley from its original owner. The best one can hope for is to acquire one from its second keeper – or in this case his estate. Of the six RC Series 4½ Litre cars completed, Chassis RC41 is the only one to retain its original coachwork (the other five has been rebodied as ‘Le Mans’ style Tourers). As such, ‘EMF 113’ is utterly unique. We believe it to be a ‘matching numbers’ car and doubt that another ‘garage find’ W.O. Bentley of such rarity and importance will emerge during this, the marque’s centenary year. An absolutely unrepeatable opportunity for Bentley aficionados everywhere and a car that surely deserves to grace the lawns of the world’s finest concours events once restored to its former glory.

Damian Jones adds: “This Bentley is so unusual because it was assembled in the mid 1930s using a chassis and mechanical parts which dated from no later than 1931.”

“Only the body was freshly made when the car was assembled and sold as a new car in 1936. The WO Bentleys made from 1919 to 1931 are far more valuable than the Derby Bentleys which followed from 1933 to 1940. The car was accepted as a WO Bentley because its chassis and mechanicals were all made during the WO era.”

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