A family were stunned to discover a vintage Bentley gathering dust in their barn for 30 years is “one of the finds of the decade” and worth £300,000.
The seriously desirable Bentley 4 1/2 was built in 1929 and, six years later, bought by the grandfather of the current owner.
He would take the luxury saloon on family holidays around the UK, even towing a caravan behind.
It has remained in the same family but in 1985 was taken off the road and parked in a barn in Surrey where it remained until six weeks ago.
The current owner, who does not want to be named, thought it would be worth around #30,000 and assumed a high end auction house like Bonhams wouldn’t have any interest in selling it.
However, Rob Hubbard, a car specialist at the auction house, was staggered when he opened the door of the barn to see the Bentley, likening it to the discovering a Rembrandt.
He said: “To collectors this really is the holy grail. The chassis, engine, axle, gearbox, steering box numbers are all present and correct.
“I have been doing this job for ten years and to find a car like this fantastic. It will need to be looked at but the body and trim are in remarkable order and won’t need to be replaced.
“You very rarely open a barn door and find something like this. You expect to see a dilapidated car but this will be back on the road without too much work.”
Bonhams has given the car – owned by the same family for 80 years – an estimate of between £150,000 and £250,000.
But Mr Hubbard believes it could sell for in excess of £300,000.
He added: “The owner thought it might be worth £30,000 so it was great to tell him it could be worth ten times as much.
“The original body, by H J Mulliner, still carries the original chassis stamping to the bonnet edges which is very rare.
“The interior is completely original, in wonderful green patinated leather. In its day it was a real gentleman’s express.”
The Bentley 4 1/2 being sold by Bonhams was one of 665 built between 1927 and 1930.
The company launched the car as a replacement for the 3 Litre, after demand from customers for a larger model.
They decided to manufacture a car “which will earn the right to be called the leader of all sports cars”.
In classic company literature, Bentley said the 4 1/2 was built for “discriminating motorists to whom the joy of motoring lies in fascinating acceleration, high speed and Bentley design”.
When it was launched, Bentley did not give a top speed for the 4 1/2, but said it was “not frequently attainable in this country”.
It added: “The fascination of the car lies in the fact that being designed to attain a high maximum speed, the engine might almost be described as idling at 60mph.”
Bentley also built a supercharged version, known as the Blower. These models, manufactured in smaller numbers, will typically sell for multi-million pound figures.
The barn find Bentley will be sold by Bonhams at its Collectors’ Motor Cars & Motorcycles sale, which will be held in Beaulieu, Hants., on September 5.