PRE WAR BENTLEY & ALVIS
RE-ENACT JOURNEY TO SHETLAND

The Cars

 

1937 DERBY BENTLEY 4.25 Park Ward Drop Head Body

Of the 2424 Derby Bentleys produced, Park Ward was the most prolific coachbuilder but bodying just 55 drop head coupes on the 4.25 litre chassis. These were greatly admired for their lightweight construction as well as their graceful looks.

There were two notable previous owners of this Bentley.

This car was sold new to Dr Sir Harold Graham Hodgson CVO, KCVO, MB BS, DMRE Cantab, MRCP, FRCP, FFR.Sir Harold was a highly accomplished neuro physiologist and x-ray pioneer and was one of the leading radiologists of his day. In 1914 he left his medical studies to join the Army and he served in France as a regimental medical officer until he was wounded in 1917.

His growing reputation was recognised by Lord Dawson, who selected him to carry out the radiological examinations during the long illness of King George V. For this service he was awarded the C.V.O, in 1929, and in 1950 the K.C.V.O, for continued services to the Royal Family.

Ace Rosner (who owned this car for nearly 40 years until he died in 2011)

 “I’ve had the best life and the most interesting life of anyone in the world.”

Ace joined the American Army as an officer during the second World War and participated in four invasions: Morocco, Sicily, Salerno and Anzio. He waded ashore in North Africa and was fired at by the French. His adventures included capturing two French colonels and spearing loaves of bread from a passing truck with his bayonet.

He went with his battalion to Italy. It was at Anzio in 1944 that a German mortar shell tore his right arm to ribbons and was subsequently amputated. “When I was in Europe, shot up and injured, I decided that anything that I want that I can afford, I’m going to have,” said Ace, who received four Purple Hearts and four Bronze Stars for valour.  (Picture; Ace Rosner on left with gun, very cowboyish!).

After the war he joined the CIA and had many adventures – too many to relate now.

He never married, although he dated "at least 100 girls," including a Miss Maryland contestant. Ace introduced her to a choreographer June Taylor, whom Ace knew from the Chanticleer nightclub in Baltimore. The beauty queen ended up running off with the Chanticleer's singer, Dean Martin. Last Ace heard, she was dating a mobster.

He raced cars, too: MGs, Austin-Healeys, an Abarth and while living in Austria, Ace raced against the likes of Wolfgang von Trips. People would inevitably ask Ace how he could race with just one arm. He was good at steering with his knees, he explained, and at shifting through the steering wheel.

This car will be driven by Nick Taylor supported by Tom Taylor

 

1937 DERBY BENTLEY 4.25 Park Ward Drop Head Body

 

1939 ALVIS SPEED 25 Charlesworth Saloon

 

This is the last Speed 25 chassis produced, which left the Alvis Coventry works on the 18th October 1940. It took a considerable time to produce due to efforts being diverted to war production. The records show the car has 8 previous owners, and spent some 18 years in the USA from 1973, coming back to the UK in 1991. In 1999 it went to Palermo Sicily where it stayed until 2017, following which it was repatriated to the UK. During the latter part of 2017 and early 2018 a comprehensive mechanical recommissioning was carried out including overhaul of the engine, front suspension, brakes, steering and associated ancillaries, plus the fitting of a new Cylinder Head and stainless steel exhaust.

The Speed 25 has a 3 ½ litre 6 cylinder engine which is very robust, being equipped with a 7 bearing crankshaft, and was capable of a top speed of 95 mph. It is also fitted with independent front suspension, and the legendary Alvis 4 speed all synchromesh gearbox, the envy of many other marques of the period. This particular Speed 25 has a Charlesworth saloon body, who together with Cross & Ellis were the most popular bodies fitted to the Speed 25 chassis. The Speed 25 together with the 4.3 litre, were considered by many to be some of the best cars made by Alvis. The double-dropped chassis producing a very sleek and elegant profile.

A total of 391 Speed 25’s were produced between 1936 and 1940. Over the years many of the saloons have been converted into drop heads or specials, which has resulted in fewer saloons remaining in service. The Alvis Company were not prolific producers of motorcars, having made a total of approx 20,000 between 1920 and 1967. However, the cars they produced were considered among the best in the UK, with the incorporation of many technical innovations. For example, they produced a front wheel drive car in the late 1920’s. As well as highly regarded all synchromesh gearboxes, and independent front suspension.  Many experts consider the later 1930 cars to be the equal of the Derby Bentley, Lagonda and Sunbeam, as well as presenting a more sporting appearance

Unfortunately, the Alvis Company was taken over in 1965 by The Rover Company, who ceased car production in 1967. But the Alvis name lived on for many years due to their design and manufacture of a highly regarded range of armoured cars and armoured troop carriers.

This car will be driven by Malcolm Roberts supported by Tom Taylor

 

1939 ALVIS SPEED 25 Charlesworth Saloon