Amelia Island

10-11 March 2017

A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith

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Lot 129

1952 Bentley Mark VI Drophead Coupe by Park Ward

  • Chassis no. B72LNZ
  • Engine no. BA649
  • Body no. D39

Sold for $198,000


Body Style 99. Est. 150 bhp, 4,566 cc F-head inline six-cylinder engine with Stromberg downdraft carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with hydraulic shock dampers, semi-elliptical leaf spring rear suspension with controllable hydraulic shock dampers, and servo-assisted hydraulic front and mechanical rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 120 in.

  • One of 12 left-hand-drive examples built
  • Known and documented history, with only four owners from new
  • Built on the latest, best-developed, and most powerful Mark VI chassis
  • An exceptionally beautiful and honest coachbuilt drophead by Park Ward


Bernard L. King’s standard reference work on the model, Bentley Mk. VI, records that 57 examples of Park Ward’s lovely drophead coupe, design number 99, were built, with bodies constructed of lightweight and corrosion-resistant aluminum panels. Only 12 of these were factory left-hand-drive, among them chassis number B72LNZ, supplied on 27 March 1952, to Mrs. Ariel P. Hall of Marblehead, Massachusetts, via Boston’s famed Foreign Motors. Mrs. Hall was a noted harpist, who once performed with the New York Philharmonic, and a fascinating lady of great beauty who was a favorite artist model; she kept a former Marblehead ferry, the aptly named Blonde, in her yard, and used it as a teahouse. She was, in other words, an ideal coachbuilt Bentley owner.

The car’s second owner is recorded as Alex Cameron III of Houston, Texas, owner of a small chain of variety stores, who collected Rolls and Bentley as a hobby. In late 1956, Mr. Cameron advertised his Bentley for sale in the local newspaper, an advertisement noted by Harold Block of El Paso. When Mr. Block’s father visited the car, Mr. Cameron informed him that Mrs. Hall had driven the Bentley to Houston during a concert tour, and traded it in on a Cadillac during the visit. He had acquired the car from the dealer – at the price of a new Cadillac!

Mr. Block and his father bought the Bentley from Mr. Cameron, and drove it home, proceeding to use it regularly for the next seven years and until it had registered about 30,000 miles. Following his father’s passing, Mr. Block continued to sentimentally maintain the car for decades, occasionally driving it but largely keeping it in proper storage. Finally, between 1974 and 1978, he had the Bentley restored by the respected Garfield Hughes of Hughes Motor Corporation, including an overhaul of the transmission and a complete rebuild of the drivetrain and electrical system. Rolls-Royce bumpers, the closest available to correct Bentley units, were installed, and the interior was properly restored using correct materials. A wonderfully subtle color scheme of silver taupe over black was chosen, with complementary upholstery.

Harold Block then continued to drive his prized Bentley, with regular maintenance, minor repairs, and cosmetic updates, for several more remarkable decades, only selling it in 2014 when, at the age of 76 and after seeing the odometer tick over to 100,000, realizing he had no heirs interested in acquiring it. Rolls-Royce specialist Richard Gorman of Vantage Motorworks in Miami brokered the sale of the car to someone he knew would appreciate it: Orin Smith. Thus, Mr. Smith became only the fourth owner since new of this prized Bentley.

The car’s restoration now has a rich patina, suitable best to driving enjoyment, but remains tidy and honest, with certain upgrades in Mr. Smith’s ownership, such as the fabrication and installation of lower body moldings. The original owner’s manual is still present, as are the correct and rare Lucas R-70 headlamps (with their Bentley “B” insignia), single left-hand exhaust pipe (as original), and the lovely wood finish of the dashboard, with the radio speakers in the center and a rare, correct clock mounted in the right-hand “cubby door.” Mr. Hughes’ research and attention to detail in restoring the car is still obvious, as the engine compartment is properly finished, with both the firewall and underside of the hood finished in the proper shade of beige. Park Ward’s original body number tag is still installed on the windshield frame, which carries proper roller shade sunvisors in grey West of England cloth.

In addition to the aforementioned owner’s manual, the Bentley is accompanied by a service manual; several notes, receipts, and photographs from Mr. Block; and, most charmingly, a handwritten and remarkably detailed history of the car, penned by Mr. Block as he prepared to sell his car and noting virtually every moment of his history with the Bentley.

When acquiring a car, it is always enriching to the experience to learn that it has been well-loved. Such care is beyond doubt with this Mark VI, now offered to only its fifth owners in 65 years of maintenance, enjoyment, and appreciation of its unique charm.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more