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Dear Prewar Editor:
We were busy on our stand at Rétromobile in Paris when news reached us on friday of the death of Stanley Mann and during the five days of the truly international event, it took us by surprise how many people knew his name and were saddened to learn about the loss of this extraordinary man.
His upbringing near Cricklewood meant that he met the likes of Walter Hassan and WO Bentley himself, who told Mann around 1970 that 'he coudn't understand people still being interested.'
That started his life-long passion for the marque and after restoring a 3-litre, he gave up his initial career as a professional photographer and became a purveyor, racer and restorer of vintage Bentleys.
His adverts successfully saw the average age of owners fall from 55 to 35 as he wooed a new generation of enthusiast with deep pockets and a love of speed. He founded Benjafield's Racing Club whose roots are in the tradition of the Bentley Boys, that hard living, partying, group of sportsmen, that made the vintage Bentley the most successful marque at Brooklands and made Le Mans special to the British public by winning it 5 times between 1924 and 1930.
Stanley Mann's sense of humour, energy and hard work brought him success and with success comes fame - not all of it good. The law case about a Speed Six Bentley's provenance hit the national press and relentless determination shown by Mann meant he eventually won his case and the landmark findings had widespread implications in the car and antiques world.
This letter on his website shows his concern for the direction taken by our sport and how collectors, present and future, will view the trends. We were pleased to learn how Mann once sold a Bentley with a contract stipulating ...'that the saloon body must never be removed.'
He was a 'lovable rogue' from the same mould as the best known car dealers from the past, all with colourful careers, and of course there are plenty of stories that are best not put into print!
His longtime friend and Bentley racer Philip Strickland was a co-founder of Benjafield's Racing Club and he shares this tribute to a great man who will be greatly missed.
(Text Robin Batchelor, pictures courtesy Stanley Mann's website)
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