With emission and safety regulations increasingly dictating the design and function of modern vehicles, there has been renewed interest in classic models. Companies such as Jaguar have capitalised with continuation models of the D Type. Others offer restoration services. Bentley are the latest to announce work carried out on a classic model, the 1939 Bentley Corniche.
Bentley are calling this particular car “the missing link”. It seems to be a model that was lost, the only 1939 Corniche ever made. The original Corniche was lost during the outbreak of World War II. Bentley had sent the only version across the channel for testing. It was crashed in August 1939 and, while making its way back to Derby, got caught in a bombing raid on Dieppe.
The chassis made its way back to Derby but the bodywork was lost in France. Using the original technical drawings, Milliner were able to recreate the bodywork down to the smallest detail. While both chassis and bodywork are entirely new, the project is said to be identical to the original 1939 Bentley Corniche.
It is of course the first project Mulliner has undertaken in the classic arena. Traditionally reserved for Bentley’s modern vehicles, Mulliner’s expansion has allowed it to undertake the project. It was originally started by a dedicated external team in 2001, before money ran out and Bentley made an offer to bring it in house. The project has been run by Ken Lea; Robin Peel, Head of Heritage; Ian Broomhall, Mulliner Operations Manager and Glyn Davies, Mulliner Special Projects leader.
It is described as Bentley’s missing link due to the step change in design language. It is the link between the highly successful pre-war racers and the style icons that followed; the R Type Continental for example. It will make its debut at Salon Prive next month.