Empress will be among show's crowning glories

When Peter Gunn bought his rare classic car having only seen it in photographs he knew nothing of its history.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 11th June 2017, 3:00 pm

Yet the self-confessed petrolhead jumped at the opportunity to purchase the unique 1952 Bentley R-Type Empress when he spotted it for sale on eBay.

“I was either a bit brave or a bit stupid, depending on which way you look at it, but it turned out for the best,” said Mr Gunn, of Wakefield.

The Bentley will join hundreds of vehicles at The Yorkshire Post Motor Show and Classic Car Rally 2017 at Castle Howard on Father’s Day, June 18.

The car is the first of only nine to be built with the distinctive Empress coachwork. It has never been restored and is one of just two in the UK.

Mr Gunn, 62, said: “Prior to the launch of the new Bentley R-Type in 1952, a number of chassis were dispatched to the top UK coach builders of the day – the idea being to have different bespoke ‘coach built’ cars available on display at the 1952 Earls Court International Motor Show to complement the factory-built saloons at the model’s launch.

“Of the two chassis delivered to coach builders Freestone and Webb in London, this one was fitted with the flamboyant and elegant coachwork known as an ‘Empress’.

“So this car is unique, and was built specifically for display at the 1952 Motor Show to showcase the skills of the company’s craftsmen, taking over four months to complete prior to the show.”

The car, which includes a drinks cabinet, fitted picnic set, picnic tables complete with cup holders, cigar lighters, heated rear window, radio and a matching set of luggage, came with a £6,500 price tag and was one of the most expensive cars at the show.

“To put that in perspective the average working wage in 1952 was about £5 per week, or £250 a year,” said Mr Gunn.

Visitors to The Yorkshire Post Motor Show and Classic Car Rally can enjoy displays from car clubs and motor dealers throughout the day. The Kangaroo Kid quad bike stunt show will headline the entertainment programme.

To save 25 per cent on tickets to this year’s event, visit www.motorshowtickets.eventbrite.co.uk or call 0333 207 0743 option 5 (open 9am-7pm Mondays to Fridays and 9am-1pm Saturdays). For all show information and to download a classic car booking form visit: www.ypmotorshow.co.uk. For classic car enquiries call 0113 238 8201.