Bentley has reconstructed a missing piece of their automotive history.
Bentley has resurrected a piece of their lost automotive history with this stunning recreation of their 1939 Corniche. The idea originated when Greek race car driver Andre Embiricos ordered a performance car based on Bentley’s 4¼ Litre chassis. Engineers and higher-ups had been kicking around the idea of a performance version of the MkV for a while. A lightweight chassis and a tuned-up version of the MkV engine coupled to an overdrive gearbox was combined with a more aerodynamic look designed for better performance.
The result was the Corniche, Bentley’s first streamlined vehicle that would be the standard for the marque’s future post-war cars. Only one model was ever produced with it, unfortunately, suffering heavy damage during track testing in France in 1939. The chassis was sent to the Bentley plant located in Derby for repairs and the body was sent to a shop in France. The finished body was scheduled to be shipped out of Dieppe but was delayed and a WWII bombing raid destroyed it.
Fortunately, automotive historian and former Bentley director Ken Lea had acquired enough parts to make a Corniche reproduction model years later in 2001. This project took place in Derby, where the original chassis was sent decades before. Money became an issue in 2008 until Bentley provided funds to start work on the chassis, bodywork, and more.
They employed the help of coachbuilders Ashley & James in Lymington, Hampshire. It was a slow process until it was moved to Bentley under the leadership of Chairman and Chief Executive Adrian Hallmark with the team consisting of Ken Lea, Head of Heritage Robin Peel, Mulliner Operations Manager Ian Broomhall, and Glyn Davies of Mulliner Special Projects.
The original car designer was George Paulin and his family was gracious enough to provide his original drawings of the car. The team used them to fabricate parts and rebuild the car using original Corniche and MkV parts. The interior was put together by Head of Interior Design Darren Day and his team after doing extensive research to make sure they were using period correct pieces. In order to get the wood trim right Mulliner Master Carpenter Gary Bedson came up with a steam booth that allowed him to bend pieces of wood to fit the spaces needed in the interior—a lengthy and tedious process. The Mulsanne body-in-white team put the finishing touches on the handcrafted panels.
This incredible piece of automotive history will make its debut at Salon Privé at Blenheim Palace in September.SOURCE: This article was written by Danny Benson and first appeared on Automobile Mag.