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About quiz #391: Bentley Airflow Saloon by Arnold of Manchester

About quiz #391: Bentley by Arnold of Manchester
You knew about last week’s quiz car, or you did not. And in case of the latter it proved a hard nut to crack. Guesses included Rolls-Royces, Alvises, a Duesenberg and a Railton. But most of you had it right: this is a 3.5-Litre ‘Derby’ Bentley. R. Mawer wrote: “The item you removed from the photo being the ‘winged B’ emblem mounted on the radiator filler cap?’ Quite right so. And like several more readers Mawer also believed the body to be by Vanden Plas: “This Vanden Plas body style was also fitted, as a catalogued option, to the Alvis Speed 20 car about 1933-36 period.”

Bruce Earlin thought so, too, and described that car in more detail: “The car appears to be an Alvis Speed 20SB or SC with VandenPlas coachwork, possibly commissioned for Charles Follett, the London Alvis distributor. The car is nearly identical to the Ed Hermann Alvis just sold at the Amelia Island RM auction. Year of construction would be mid 1933-1935. This car must have a side-mount spare. Most had rear mount spares. There is a sunshine roof on this car, and body is probably aluminum.” That’s how we like them, Bruce, well done. He was completely wrong never the less. Vanden Plas is not the coachbuilder we are looking at here. Neither is it a Thrupp & Maberly Streamline (as Peter Stapleton thought); or a French body (Alan Spencer).

The only one who knew the coachbuilder was Herman van Oldeneel, who wrote: “Bentley 3.5 litre, bodied by William Arnold, Upper Brook Street Manchester, 13. Telegram address: 'Luxurious' Manchester. They also built 4-door saloons called ‘Slip Stream’.” He was right, although this particular one became known as ‘Airflow Saloon’ after being shown at Arnold’s display on the 1934 London Motor Show. The car spent much of its life in the US, hence the white walls and chromed wheels, but came to The Netherlands in 1999. Well done Herman!

(Words and pictures Jeroen Booij)

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