A 1928 Bentley reassembled after its dismantled parts were found scattered throughout a three-storey house and gardens is expected to sell for as much as £1 million. The parts of the 4.5 litre, art-deco styled vehicle were concealed under beds, in oil-filled glass jars and under a tarpaulin in the owner’s west London home.
The car was reconstructed using old nuts and bolts, the cars original aluminium bodywork was found on the roof of Mr Wallace’s nearby lock-up. The car, just one of eight ever made, was acquired by Stuart Wallace, an English teacher, when he was a student in 1962.
His daughter Bea Wallace-Hartstone called in experts to see if the car could be reassembled following his death.
William Medcalf, head of the Medcalf collection, toured the property scouring for parts until eventually he and his 12 experts had found nearly every original component.
Medcalf subsequently struck a deal with Mrs Wallace-Hartsone, agreeing to buy the parts from the family. While similar reassembled specimens have sold for £800,000, the firm is tight-lipped about how much they paid for the parts or what they expect to make at auction.
A source said: “You can’t put a price on passion, someone will pay whatever it is worth to them.”
Not one new nut or bolt has been used, with just a handful of non-original wooden supports added to strengthen the chassis.
Mr Medcalf told Octane magazine: “About a year ago a very nice lady called and said her father had passed away and that he’d had a couple of old cars in his house, one of which was a Bentley.”
“She was selling the house and the cars had to go. She explained it was a vintage Bentley but was not absolutely sure it was complete because it was in pieces spread throughout the house.
“So I jumped in a car and drove straight to Kew Gardens. Sure enough, bare on the entrance hall floorboards was a Bentley cylinder block. Going in further I saw a clutch on the stairs, then the connecting rods – there were literally bits everywhere and throughout the three storey house.”
After buying the vehicle for £280, Mr Wallace was deterred by the prohibitively high running costs and decided to store the car in his garage, according to his family.
He went on to strip in and began to restore it but later scattered the component parts throughout his house and garden.
When the Medcalf team began to scour for parts they found pieces deposited in jam jars of oil, the dashboard was concealed in a spare bedroom while the original headlights were found under a bed.
Mr Medcalf added: “There were pieces everywhere and in every conceivable container.
“We went back a couple of times over the year it took to settle the probate and actually have the components released to us.”
Mr Medcalf added: “As for its value now, that’s when the real debate starts – given its rarity, provenance and originality with matching numbers.
Mrs Wallace-Hartstone said: “My dad was always messing around with cars and storing old parts and spares everywhere.
“He kept a dismantled AC Cobra in my bedroom. He was crazy about cars.”