From the 1920s onward, it was not uncommon to see Bentley cars commissioned for work on wealthy owner's estates, their rugged, reliable and yet sporting poise being perfect mounts for their owners and friends to be escorted to the farer realms of the land. Frequently vehicles were converted to this more commercial purpose in their later life, when, rather than parting with a trusted old car, the 'family friend' was shipped off to a coachbuilder for repurposing.
More unusual was for cars to be commissioned this way from new, and in this respect the Bentley we present here is something of some rarity. It was ordered by its first owner in the form that we still see it in today. The coachbuilder was Rippon Brothers, a house that could chart its history back to the carriage building days of the late 1890s and then the incubation of the motorcar. Based in the North of England, and originating in Huddersfield, at its peak it could count showrooms in various locations including Bradford, Leeds, Sheffield and West Riding although after the war, they were predominantly concerned with selling cars rather than building them. In the wealthy textiles industry of Yorkshire and the Midlands, they found a burgeoning clientele and were well patronized by their local market.
The factory records on file confirm B91FU to have been built as a 'Shooting Brake', and the original owner of the Bentley fitted that mold perfectly. Colonel George Hammond Aykroyd was part of the family dynasty that ran the huge carpet business of T. F. Firth and Company in Bailiff Bridge in the West Yorkshire county of the United Kingdom, as they would have said 'a stone's throw' from Rippon. Most likely reflecting the extreme costs of such an exercise in the conservative postwar Britain, he was one of only two people to have one of these cars built, and curiously enough today, both have found themselves to the USA.
As a Master of Foxhounds, Col. Aykroyd's Shooting Brake would have been most likely been used for the type of work its name suggests, hunting. Sensibly, the spare tire was moved to free up space in the rear of the car and placed on the front right fender, while its rear seat could be folded forward, or removed entirely, for further storage if necessary.
It is believed that the trusty 'Brake remained in the family for some years, no doubt having seen routine service at hunting parties on the Moors. In 1961 the Bentley moved south to the Bristol area and became the property of R. Acheson Crow. This is the last recorded British owner, before the car migrated to the US in 1980 and arrived in the distinctly different climate of California, with its next custodian Michael R. Clark, who maintained the car for nearly a decade. The next keeper was noted collector Warren French, in whose care the car was a frequent sight on Rolls-Royce Owners Club events. Records on file depict and note how appropriate the car looked at a Winery tour!
After some years of Mr. French's ownership, the Shooting Brake began a new chapter of its life on the East Coast with the much-respected collector, Henry Petronis of Easton, Maryland. Mr. Petronis' status as a true connoisseur of the automobile was well founded for his garages at his Normandie home at one time housed such serious machinery as Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, multiple Bugattis, and the famed Captain Hewitt 8 Liter Bentley.
In this period the car was repainted in a Royal Blue scheme and its original upholstery was refurbished from a light blue to the more handsome contrasting dark tan it wears today. This work has now aged in places where it sees the most use, being around the hood latching areas and at the door surrounds. The woodwork appears to have been beautifully preserved and sympathetically refinished and is of particular appeal.
The last custodian of this charming 'wagon' acquired the car publicly from noted collector Craig McCaw in 2016. On arrival it was sent to Automotive Restorations to work through the technical aspect and to put it into a more satisfactorily reliable condition, including interior controls nicely labeled. Since when it has been used periodically on trips to the golf club and other such excursions. An exceptional rarity, the 'Brake' would make a refreshing alternative to your Wrangler or Hummer at any beach, or indeed at a race circuit paddock. Please call with additional questions or to schedule a chance to review it in person.
|Exterior Color:||Royal Blue|
|Interior Color:||Tan Leather|
|Transmission:||4 Speed Manual|