Last week’s Prime Find posed the question of whether anything could be more entertaining for such a humble outlay than the featured Suzuki Cappuccino.
After trawling the classifieds and auction listings I found a few possibilities, but I’m easily distracted and I felt more ambitious than limiting myself to a few thousand pounds. Besides, last Tuesdays search for the most super of supersaloons got me thinking that I should be looking elsewhere. Little trinket sports cars are all very well, but surely it’s possible to travel in more style and comfort for not much more expenditure. Value is a sliding scale and I’ve had to triple the price of the Suzuki but climbed to the top of the tree in terms of prestige and found a budget Bentley instead. However, with an estimate starting at only £8,000 it’s still cheap for proper luxury motoring. I suggest that a whole different type of entertainment could be on the cards here.
As with so much these days, real class is a disappearing commodity and the Bentley brand is now synonymous with footballers and new-money bling. There really should be some sort of mandatory exam to check you are of suitably good breeding to be allowed to purchase one (which I would clearly pass with flying colours), but alas there is not. Any awfully common person can just walk up to a Bentley dealership and put down the cash, or even worse, apply for finance. They even make an SUV for God’s sake. It’s a sad state of affairs. The last real Bentley was the Turbo R that remained in production until 1997, but we’re going back further here to 1975 to find a beautifully period T1. This is firmly back in the era when driving a Bentley really meant something.
The T Series would have ruffled a few traditionalist feathers when it was launched in 1965 as it was essentially a badge engineered Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. This may have seemed disappointing to some but innovations such as monocoque construction, independent suspension and disc brakes all round delivered the prospect of a Bentley with some driver appeal again. If you had a Rolls-Royce you were meant to be chauffeured but Bentley drivers chauffeured themselves, and sometimes quite enthusiastically. If you look at the preceding Bentley S3 you’re more likely to think sedate than swift, but the T Series were significantly more purposeful. The T1 wasn’t a direct Silver Shadow copy as a few styling details differentiated the cars. Most important was the bonnet profile being a few centimetres lower to complement the shorter radiator surround which had smoother edges and gave the car a subtle sporting appearance compared to the upright Roller. Powered by the 189bhp 6750cc L-Series engine and 4 speed GM400 transmission the T1 has plenty of waft and will nudge 120 mph given enough space. Don’t worry about fuel consumption, such trivial matters are naturally of very little relevance. Instead remember that they churned out ten times more Shadows than T1s, so it is clear where you should look for real exclusivity.
The Shadow and T Series combined had the largest production volume of any Rolls-Royce or Bentley models and familiarity eventually bred contempt. Both cars lurked in the doldrums for years after their initial glory faded and you would have struggled to give them away at one point. Those years spent in the back streets mean plenty of rough ones still exist and it’s probably not a car to attempt to run on a bodger’s budget. Asking prices are now strengthening but the trick, as always, is to find the hidden pearls amongst the snotters, which brings us to this week’s car. Found in the listings for Brightwells’ sale at Bicester Heritage on 24thJune, our 1975 T1 was still a work in progress when the photos were taken, but the vendor assures the auction house that it will be complete and tickety-boo by the day of the sale. There is a lot to like about it already. The photos were taken down a back street by some railway arches, which was for a long time the natural habitat of these cars. There won’t be any snobbish specialist nonsense here so you’re not paying the premium for a photograph in a white room. The brown paintwork had been recently refreshed and it wears a complementary biscuit vinyl roof with pride. The rectangular driving lamps are very 1970s and it retains period correct white and yellow number plates. Couple this with what seems to be a genuine low mileage and this Bentley looks more attractive with every glance. Sure, it’s not perfect but you wouldn’t want a concourse one, would you? What a liability that would be. No, this is surely the ideal T1 and wears its years with a degree of honesty. What possible reason is there not to get right down there and buy it? You’ve got a week to find the cash. Just try not to let it bankrupt you.
Needless to say, you will need a link to the auction site. Now make the most of it:
Brightwells Bicester Catalogue
Here are a few select pictures from the auction catalogue:
With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org