Bentley 3 ½ Litre Saloon
It is said to be one of the Riley factory’s development trolleys equipped with an aluminium body on a steel frame made in Adelaide. The car was imported to Australia in 1936 by a Dr Warner (or Downer) in Adelaide for racing use and may have belonged to Barney Dentry. It was later owned by L Lobb in SA and it is known that it has participated in competitions in SA and WA (Albany?). The car was entered for the 1939 Australia Grand Prix in Lobethal in SA. The current owner received a letter in 1978 from Allen Colmer in SA “it was taken to SA from England by Dr Downer (or Warner?), who replaced it with Jackson Motors (today Claridge Motors) in Malvern SA around September 1939″. Tom Jackson thought it could be good advertising to compete with the car in Lobethal New Year’s Day 1940. Drove by Aub Ramsay, but the car went lousy. Jackson Motors also did poorly. The car was taken over by Alby Lobb who kept the car until the late 60’s when he became ill and sold it to Neville Webb, who soon sold it on to Gavin Sandford-Morgan. Jim Runciman bought the car in parts in the early 70’s and it has not been touched since (Sept 92).
A similarly dated letter from another former owner, Jim Runciman, continues the story:
As with so many old cars, its history is unclear and there are only two things you can be sure of; that the chassis number 8083 is correct and that the chassis, when I shipped it to England, was an original chassis, albeit in poor condition. I also considered the gearbox, axles and radiator as original. See attached photo of the car as it looked when I bought it in 1975:
As I said, it is difficult to say anything definitive about the car’s history. It is said to have been imported by a Dr Downer in Adelaide around 1936. Since it had an English-made body, one can be pretty sure that the car was not imported as a new car as the import duty at that time was terribly high. The car, if it is the same car we are talking about (I will explain later), then had a number of owners before it came to be owned by a colorful person named Alby Lobb. During the short time he owned the car in the 50’s, he tossed around at all sorts of events. The car was notorious for being unreliable. It had at this time a roughly luxurious aluminium body.
In the early 70’s, Neville Webb offered the car for sale. I came to an agreement with him to buy his Brooklands plus a Riley Imp for AU$ 8,000. During the time it took me to travel from WA to Adelaide, he had sold the cars to another named David Sanford Morgan. He was willing to sell the cars to me with a small surcharge of AU$ 2,000. I just wanted the Brooklands car but the deal was about the “package” and it was just to pay or go from there. I would have my Brooklands!