Chairman of H&H Classics, Simon Hope to sell part of his private collection

Chairman of H&H Classics, Simon Hope to sell part of his private collection

05/08/2021    

1939 Bentley 4.25 Litre Vanden Plas-style Tourer estimate £140,000 - £160,000

When you’ve spent more than three decades auctioning some of the finest classic cars, as Simon Hope, Chairman of H&H Classics has done, what do you choose for your own collection?
 
At the company’s next sale at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, you will be able to see and bid on part of Simon Hope’s private collection, four cars that he handpicked over the years.
 
Simon has a passion for V8s as well as cars that can be used for a specific purpose, such as the Bentley for pre-war rallying and touring. He is not bothered about investment and value, but buys very much with his heart and with a passion for cars he genuinely likes to drive or rally. What is clear from this collection is that they run well and are fun to drive. You can be sure each of these four vehicles will be a pleasure to own.
 
Speaking about the sale of part of his collection Simon says: “I believe cars should be used and these cars certainly deserve to be used more regularly and to be out and about at automotive events. It’s time to let someone else have the pleasure of their company.”
 
1939 Bentley 4.25 Litre Vanden Plas-style Tourer: Estimate £140,000 - £160,000.
 
Simon says of this car: “It’s been a great car to own and performs beautifully on long haul drives or in fact in modern-day traffic. It is jaw- droppingly good looking. I think it is one of the best looking of the Derby Bentleys. It is in stunning condition and ready to go wherever you wish to take it. It has been all over the world and everyone lucky enough to own it has loved it.”
 
This Bentley has a storied literary history having appeared in many books and publications including the most recent book: ‘Bentley: Last of the Silent Sports Cars’ by Ian Strang and John Boothman 1938-9’.
 
The 1939 Bentley 4.25 Litre Vanden Plas-style Tourer, is one of the rare overdrive MR chassis versions. The overdrive chassis is extremely rare. 0nly 100 MR chassis versions were made. Another 101 MX overdrive chassis were produced. Of the total of 201 overdrive chassis made just 175 are left in existence. It is doubtless a very desirable version of this model still extant.
 
As a friend of former owner Philip Evans, Simon has known the car for years and knowing just how much Phil enjoyed it, was surprised when it was consigned for sale. Some years later Simon bought it from John Harper and gave it some reviving and its current black and red colour scheme, one that Bentley has used over the years.
 
It was first registered on 30th March 1939. Chassis B122MR is understood to have begun life as a Hooper saloon. Rebodied by master craftsman Tony Robinson in the style of a Vanden Plas Tourer during 1971, the four-seater’s elegant coachwork was reportedly modelled on that of an ex-Malcolm Campbell Derby Bentley sat alongside it in Mr Robinson’s workshops.
 
Belonging to Martin Way Esq for a number of years, ‘941 EXC’ was bought by prominent Bentley Drivers’ Club member Philip Evans in 1986. Showing an indicated 55,106 miles when MOT tested on November 12th that year, chassis B122MR was extensively enjoyed and improved during Mr Evans’ twenty-year custodianship. The original engine was overhauled by Brunts of Silverdale with the back axle, steering, one-shot lubrication system, dashboard and instruments being refurbished too. Cosmetically, it benefited from the fitting of new wings prior to being resprayed and retrimmed. A multiple concours award winner at events as diverse as ‘Top Cars on Top of the World’ and the Rallye de Fougeres, the Bentley also covered tens of thousands of miles around New Zealand, Canada, New England, New York, Scandinavia and southern Europe without missing a beat.
 
Consigned to the H&H’s July 26th 2006 Buxton auction, the four-seater was bought by race car specialist John Harper for use at his French holiday home. Kept and maintained by Mr Harper for nine years, ‘941 EXC’ entered the current ownership – that of our founder Simon Hope – in 2015. Having known the Derby Bentley for over twenty years and had first-hand experience of its capabilities thanks to Mr Evans’ generosity, Simon was determined to make it a Concours contender once more. Entrusted to 355 Automobile Restorations Ltd of Albury for a bodywork renovation and bare metal respray, chassis B122MR also gained a new hood and tonneau cover plus refinished brightwork and fresh tyres. Driven some 1,300 trouble-free miles to the 2016 Le Mans Classic, that same year saw it selected for Cheshire Concours d’Esprit at Oulton Park and come second in the coachbuilt pre-war class at The Warren Classic and Supercar Show.
 
Unveiled to great acclaim at the August 1933 Ascot Races, the Derby Bentley was underpinned by a ‘double dropped’ chassis featuring all-round semi-elliptic suspension and four-wheel drum brakes. Powered by a more potent version of its Rolls-Royce 20/25 sibling’s 3669cc OHV straight-six engine allied to four-speed manual transmission, the newcomer was soon christened the ‘Silent Sportscar’.
 
Responding to increased competition from the likes of Alvis and Lagonda, Bentley gave its customers the option of a larger 4257cc engine during the 1936 season. Priced at £50, a comparatively modest sum compared to the cost of a basic chassis, the new unit proved so popular that the smaller capacity powerplant was soon dropped. Nicely balanced to begin with, the Derby Bentley chassis proved more than capable of handling the extra power and torque. Further revised in late 1938, the ‘Silent Sportscar’ gained centralised chassis lubrication, automatic shock absorbers (with hand control override), better steering, improved 'big-end' crankshaft bearings and - most importantly of all - an 'overdrive' gearbox with direct drive on 3rd gear and overdrive on 4th gear. Available from chassis B2MR onwards, these modifications allowed it to tackle Europe’s first generation of high-speed roads such as Italy's autostradas or Germany's autobahns with confidence. Long sought after due to their relaxed cruising capabilities and theoretical 100mph plus performance (they were geared to 107mph in 'overdrive' top), production of the final MR and MX series amounted to a mere 200 cars.
 
Not the slowest driver in the world, Simon Hope has made ample use of the car’s high speed cruising gait during journeys around the UK. This desirable Post Vintage Thoroughbred is worthy of close inspection. Among the fastest and most usable of all pre-war Bentleys, the ‘overdrive’ series Derbys are justly sought after. It is estimated to sell for £140,000 - £160,000.
 
2002 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG Estimate £25,000 - £30,000
 
An undisputed modern classic this 2002 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG is powered by one of the greatest V8 engines of recent years. It has had one former keeper and has been in Simon Hope’s current ownership since 2011. It is warranted 43,000 miles from new. He describes its condition as “just immaculate, stunning car, aching to go!” He and his wife Karon have used it for various touring holidays. “It’s just a joy to drive and better I think than the rarer SL 65. Its been a pleasure to own from day one.” Simon bought the car directly from its original owner Peter Newmark, a significant classic car collector who had bought it for his wife Maria.
 
Notable as the most powerful production car ever fielded by Mercedes-Benz upon its launch in 2002, the SL55 AMG received rave reviews from the contemporary motoring press. Boasting one of the greatest engines of the 2000s, its supercharged 5.5 litre V8 produced some 476bhp and 700Nm of torque (the latter at just 2,650rpm). Allied to five-speed automatic transmission, it enabled the two-seater to sprint from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds and on to a limited top speed of 155mph. Though, AMG ‘let slip’ that a de-limited yet otherwise standard example has been clocked at 205mph! Surprisingly civilised given the performance on tap, the SL55 boasted a full suite of ‘creature comforts’ and a firm but not jarring ride. Visually enhanced via re-profiled bumpers, quad exhaust tips and 18-inch alloy wheels, demand for the newcomer soon outstripped supply. An undoubted modern classic and one of those cars which is
more than a sum of its parts, the SL55 AMG enjoys something of a cult following. Generous specification includes: premium sound system, panoramic
(glass) hardtop, Exclusive Anthracite leather and Bi-Xenon headlights.
 
Built to order number 0253754869 and despatched from the factory on September 2nd 2002, chassis F029491 was finished in Brilliant Silver Metallic with Anthracite ‘Exclusive’ Leather upholstery. Understood to have cost its first owner over £100,000, the Mercedes-Benz’s impressive specification included Parktronic, COMAND, Multi-Contour Seats, Panoramic (glass) hardtop, ABC suspension, electric folding mirrors, AMG styling package (front spoiler, side skirts), premium sound system and Bi-Xenon headlights. Entering the current (second) ownership in 2011 – that of our founder Simon Hope – the SL55 AMG is warranted to have covered just 43,000 miles from new. Kept in a Carcoon when not in use, the two-seater has been enjoyed on numerous long-distance jaunts around the UK. Able to waft or roar as the driver sees fit, chassis F029491 has been main dealer serviced at 12,285, 24,460, 29,342, 34,272, 37,645, 40,685 and 41,176 miles.
 
It is reluctantly offered for sale as for the past two pandemic years it has not had much exercise. Such low owner, low mileage examples are becoming harder and harder to find. Estimate £25,000 - £30,000.
 
 
1964 Ford Mustang Hardtop Coupe Racer - Estimate £40,000 - £50,000
 
This stunning Mustang Competition Car was specially built for the H&H Classics founder, Simon Hope. Ever one to maximise his return on investment, the brief given to Gary Spencer of Classic Racing Cars Ltd, Seighford was to create a machine that could be used for circuit racing, sprinting, hill-climbing and road rallies. Put simply, Simon wanted a car that he could take anywhere to promote H&H Classics at as wide a variety of events as possible. The first event he drove it in was the Tour Britania, similar to the Tour Auto event.
 
Bought in Holland with a second Mustang this car turned out to be completely untouched and undamaged and still had its factory seals and it could have been a significant Concours car. “It’s a beast that is ready to go!” says Simon. “It’s been a great car and its won various rosettes. Its blue and yellow livery echo the H&H colours some years back. He says he is proud of the comment on the back of the car: ‘Going, Going, Gone’. “The car is a cracker!’”
 
This early '1964.5' car was converted for competition usage by Classic Racing Cars Ltd of Seighford, Staffordshire. It has been sparingly driven since a gearbox overhaul in 2012 with its last silverware being collected at Curborough in 2018.
 
Coming to market at a fraction of its build and subsequent maintenance cost (the incomplete bills on file total over £100,000), ‘DUJ 278B’ represents a comparatively affordable entry to a huge variety of historic motorsports. Taken to the occasional show and event since then, the Ford is only being offered for sale because Simon has reluctantly decided that his racing days are probably over.
 
A notably 1964 ½ model year Hardtop Coupe, chassis 5F07F195568 was built at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan plant complete with a 260 cu in (4.2 litre) V8 engine. Migrating to Europe sometime thereafter, it was found to be remarkably straight and corrosion free when sourced for the project. Chemical dipped and seam welded, the bodyshell was further reinforced via the installation of a FIA compliant roll cage. Tim Adams Racing Engines supplied a suitable 289 cu in (4.7 litre) V8 running on 98 RON fuel with a booster which was allied to a T&C four-speed manual gearbox. A brand new rear axle with limited slip differential and competition driveshafts was added as were Kelsey Hayes front disc brakes gripped by four-pot callipers. A quick ratio steering box was fitted along with a fuel cell and facet pump etc. The purposeful interior was given Recaro bucket seats, drilled pedals, aluminium door cards and a plumbed-in fire extinguisher system not to mention a bespoke dashboard and Brantz trip meter. Rewired throughout, the electrical system also benefited from an alternator and the requisite ‘kill switch’. Putting the cost of the donor to one side, the initial build cost some £70,000 and was completed literally moments before the Mustang lined-up for the September 2006 Tour Britannia.
 
Treated to a further £12,000 worth of fine tuning encompassing the fitment of new shock absorbers all round and a waxoyl treatment plus much set-up work, the Ford was issued with a MSA HTP (Historic Technical Passport) on April 4th 2007. Winning its circuit debut – a Tin Top race at Silverstone – with Nick Whale sharing the driving duties, the Hardtop Coupe subsequently competed at the likes of Brands Hatch, Donnington and Knockhill. A midfield runner at major track events, it proved every bit as versatile as Simon had hoped allowing him to tackle Prescott Hillclimb, the Benjafield’s Racing Club Cornbury Sprint and the  Jersey Festival of Motoring to name but a few. Aside from one minor contretemps with a fellow competitor at the Silverstone Classic, the
Mustang has enjoyed an accident-free competition career. Sparingly used since a gearbox overhaul in 2012, it last ran in anger at a Curborough meeting during 2018. Estimate £40,000 - £50,000.
 
1943 Ford GPW Jeep Estimate £18,000 - £22,000
 
This rare and interesting Jeep is still fitted with its original body tub and many period features.
 
It is an extremely rare and unique example having been rebuilt by Alisson Engineering, Arizona, USA in 1945 using a more advanced pre-production CJ-2A engine, gearbox and front suspension and still showing its rebuild dating plate.
 
The following description is provided by John Farley (renowned author of ‘The Standardised War-Time Jeeps’). “This interesting Jeep carries a rebuild plate from the Allison-Steel-Manufacturing Company of Phoenix, Arizona which is dated July 1945. Due to this late rebuild in war years, Allison Manufacturing have fitted the Jeep with a more advanced Prototype (or Fibre-Drive) Engine, restamped with the GPW engine number transferred from the removed unit. In addition, they have fitted the better developed prototype T.90 gearbox ensuring a smooth powerful positive drive from this otherwise very original Jeep.
 
Whilst updating the powertrain Allison Manufacturing uprated the front suspension to eradicate the famous ‘Jeep Droop’ on the driver’s side, giving a positive level ride. The original untouched data plates add to verify the modifications that Ford/Willys were experimenting with at the end of the war.
 
It is very hard to find an untouched rebuild – allowing us to study the modifications and changes made in the period, and giving us an extremely interesting snapshot of the changes in Jeep technology towards the end of the war period for the future of these iconic vehicles.”
 
Still with its very original 1943 GPW tub, combat wheels, original seats, Sheller steering wheel, screen, hood, and wings, this Ford has two freewheeling hubs fitted to the front axle to ease fuel consumption. Offered with its original rear tyre carrier, 1943 Jerry Can, original hood bows, genuine rear seat, grill bumpers and handles, Shovel and axe, original seat covers, combat rim and bar grip tyres, the Jeep has also been totally rewired, including new rear lights and connectors.
 
Recently serviced and recommissioned using parts sourced from Dallas Autos of Thatcham, 'NXS 976' started readily and ran well during our recent photogrpahy session.
 

View the cars in more detail here.

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