Low mileage 1950s classics from same Channel Island family come to sale with H&H Classics

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, February 29, 2024

Low mileage 1950s classics from same Channel Island family come to sale with H&H Classics
1957 Sunbeam MKIII. Estimate: £12,000 - £14,000.

WARRINGTON.- H&H Classics will be offering a 1953 Bentley R-Type with rare James Young coachwork and a 1957 Sunbeam MKIII Sports Saloon as part of their next Live Auction Online sale on May 27th, both bought new by the same Channel Island family who kept them for three generations.

Each car was first owned by Mrs Tottie Cooper of Jersey and remained on the island until 2017 when her granddaughter sold them to the vendor who subsequently recommissioned them following decades of dry storage. Due to their Channel Island residency both cars have covered just 18,000 miles from new with a letter on file from the granddaughter, who remembers being driven to school in the Sunbeam, attesting to their limited usage! Adding to the charm of these two beauties is the fact they are finished in similar liveries.

The vast majority of Bentley R-Type chassis were fitted with Standard Steel Saloon coachwork by the factory. However, this ex-Jersey machine was clothed in a more distinctive aluminium body by the renowned coachbuilder James Young. Reputedly, one of the lowest mileage R-Types extant, it is estimated to sell for £45,000 - £50,000.

Off the road and dry stored from 1966 to 2018, the Bentley has only covered some 900 miles since being treated to an extensive but sympathetic recommissioning by the vendor. Describing the process to H&H, he told them:

“On initial inspection I found the engine and clutch to be perfectly free despite circa fifty years off the road, and most of the exhaust system (excluding downpipes) had clearly been replaced shortly before being laid up.

Recommissioning has included replacement of all hoses; overhaul of fuel, ignition, charging and braking systems (the latter requiring new hoses and seals only); changing all fluids and filters; fitting 5 new Avon Turbospeed tyres, new Varta battery; oil pressure gauge re-calibrated; re-chroming bumpers, over-riders; fitting flashing indicator lights (installed on brackets beneath bumpers so as not to interfere with coachwork and wired into existing trafficator switch system).

The interior is totally original and has its original, tailored, heavy-duty overcarpet at the front. As far as I can discern, there is no corrosion in the aluminium coachwork and no sign of deterioration in the timber frame (I have treated all exposed timber).

The car drives extremely well, all gauges indicating correctly and the gearbox, as always with these cars, a delight to use. I do wonder whether this may be the lowest mileage R-Type chassis existing? The car is listed in Rodney Steel's book 'The Cars from Crewe' (p.191) and has been valued by a renowned marque specialist at £75,000 (letter on file)”

Model Background:
An obvious evolution of its MKVI predecessor, the Bentley R- Type was introduced at the 1952 Earls Court Motor Show. Subtly reworked from the previous model by in-house stylist John Blatchley, it boasted a notably larger boot and reprofiled rear wings.

Switching from riveted to welded frame construction at chassis B349TO, the newcomer featured independent coil-and-wishbone front suspension, a leaf- sprung 'live' rear axle and servo-assisted four-wheel drum brakes (hydraulic front / rod rear). Powered by a 'big bore' 4566cc straight-six inlet-over-exhaust engine allied to either four-speed manual or automatic transmission, the R-type was a surprisingly strong performer, able to reach more than 100mph. Praised by the contemporary motoring press for its high-speed handling and well-appointed interior, the model remained in production until 1955 by which time some 2,320 are thought to have been made (though, only 303 of those bore coachbuilt bodies).

1957 Sunbeam MKIII - Estimate: £12,000 - £14,000:
Like its Bentley stablemate, the Sunbeam remained part of the Cooper family from new until 2017. A less ostentatious conveyance and more wieldy on some of Jersey’s tighter roads, it remained in regular service until the 1980s and was finally laid-up in 1994. Warranted to have covered just 18,000 miles from new, it is estimated to sell for £12,000 to £14,000.

Having extensively and sympathetically recommissioned the MKIII, the vendor informed H&H that:

"Although the Sunbeam had been used more recently by the Cooper family than its similarly liveried Bentley R-Type stablemate, a compression test on the engine was less satisfactory. Partially dismantled, the four-cylinder unit had its valves re-seated and top compression rings only replaced (two were partially seized in grooves).

Otherwise, recommissioning included replacement of all hoses; overhaul of fuel, ignition, braking and charging systems; changing all fluids and filters; installing an aluminium fuel tank: fitting 4 new tyres, new battery; re-chroming bumpers, over-riders; replacing hub caps.

The interior retains its original leather upholstery but now sports fresh carpets. A bare metal repaint was carried out to the lower half.

The car drives well with all gauges indicating correctly. The Sunbeam and the Bentley make for a fine pair and have not been apart from one another since the MKIII was delivered new to the Cooper family in 1957!"

Model Background:
Launched in July 1948, the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 was essentially a reworking of the company's pre-war 2-litre chassis design. However, the newcomer's adoption of overhead valve gear leant it a surprising turn of speed. Quick to capitalise, the Rootes competition department hastened the model's development. Thus, the 90 MKII of 1950 boasted not only a new chassis with independent front suspension but also a capacity increase to 2267cc. By the time the Sunbeam MKIII arrived four years later (Talbot badging had since been dropped), power and torque were up to 80bhp and 122lbft respectively.

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