In 1936 Madame Yvonne Cahen d’Anvers de Rothschild moved from Paris to live in London, and wanted a smaller version of her husband’s flamboyant French-bodied Hispano-Suiza to suit British roads. She decided on one of the Bentleys then emerging from the Rolls-Royce factory in Derby, but didn’t like the sober, upright bodies normally fitted.
So she took pictures of the Hispano to the renowned coachbuilder Gurney Nutting, whose young designer John Blatchley drew a dramatic black-and-white coupé with sedanca-style opening roof. The swage mouldings dividing the colours swept diagonally across the bonnet and curved across the body sides to end in a point beneath the rear window, harmonising beautifully with the streamlined front and rear wings. Inside there were mirrored companions in the rear quarters, and a perfume bottle and two packs of playing cards built into the rear armrest. In the boot, along with a full tool tray, inspection lamp and spare bulb holders, were leather fitted suitcases.
Madame de Rothschild was delighted and gave her approval, but this complex body took so long to build that she tired of waiting and bought a conventional Rolls-Royce instead. The sedanca was sold instead to a member of the Hartley jam-making family.
Post-war it went to America, and after 40 years it was discovered in Pennsylvania in poor condition and brought back to England. Its new owner, motor sports journalist and broadcaster Simon Taylor, had it entirely rebuilt down to the last detail, which took four years. He has owned it now for 25 years and clocked up some 12,000 road miles. The Rothschild Sedanca has won many major concours d’elegance awards, including the Montagu Trophy at Pebble Beach for the Most Significant Car of British Origin, and a class first at Salon Privé.
Bentley Centenary Celebration
This car is the fourth of five Bentleys to be displayed in the Club’s rotunda across June and July
as the Club celebrates the manufacturer’s centenary year.
Displayed courtesy of Simon Taylor Esq. from Monday 15th July to Sunday 21st July 2019.