1968 Bentley T1 ‘Coupe Speciale’

the Pininfarina Bentley is unquestionably one of the more interesting cars of its era. The ‘Coupe Speciale’, as Pininfarina termed it, was penned by styling genius Paolo Martin. Martin had started his career at Studio Michelotti in 1960, moved to Bertone in 1967, and became the Chief of the Styling Department at Pininfarina the following year. From his pen came such innovative designs as the Ferrari Dino Competizione and 512S Modulo as well as Alfa P33 and Lancia Beta Monte Carlo.

The Coupe Speciale’s resemblance to the Rolls-Royce Camargue is unmistakable and it must have been the inspiration for the car. Today, it seems surprising that the potential of a Sports Bentley was overlooked to focus on a coachbuilt sportingly-styled Rolls-Royce, but in this period the Bentley brand was in the doldrums and sales of the Rolls counterpart outnumbered those of the Bentley by as much as twenty to one. 40 years on, now that the brands have separated and reverted more closely to their ancestry, with Rolls-Royce pushing the boundaries of pure luxury and Bentley leaning more towards their sports heritage, the Pininfarina Bentley seems to fit in very naturally to the styling progression of the marque. It is of course an association which was revisited with the Azure in the mid-1990s.

It is said that noted car aficionado Lord James E. Hanson either ordered the car from Pininfarina directly and then allowed them to tour the car on their motor show stands, or perhaps literally walked up onto their stand and bought the car from them. This tale conflicts slightly with the actual delivery date recorded with the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club in the UK as having been the 1st May 1969, where the car is officially noted as sold to Hanson through H.R. Owen. The price tag? A cool £15,000 – twice that of a standard T Type. Either way, what is certain is that the car was first seen in 1968 publicly at the Paris Salon and then at the London Motor Show and did not arrive with Hanson until mid-way through the following year.

Hanson retained the car up until the mid 1980s, when it was purchased from him by Ivor Gordon of Frank Dale & Stepsons in London. It then passed to a Japanese collector in the late 1980s where it remained for a number of years and since this time it has had just three further owners arriving with the current custodian in 2006. From day one its use has been relatively modest with the result that there is little doubt that the recorded mileage of mid-18,000s is absolutely correct.

Approximately 25 years ago, while still with Hanson the car had its styling freshened by J.D Barclay & Co. at which point it received 2nd Series Corniche rubber bumpers, modern Corniche style hub covers and a three speed automatic gearbox. None of these modifications are substantial and it could be argued that today it might be worth returning the car to its chrome bumper/wheel disc style.

The car has been shown on occasions at the Schwietzingen Concours in Germany in the early 2000s. It would naturally be a welcomed to any similar events in the future, where it will always be a talking point.

At their 2009 Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia at Quail Lodge Resort Bonhams & Brooks sold this unique road going prototype for $172,000 inclusive of Buyer’s Premium.

1968 Bentley T1 ‘Coupe Speciale’ Gallery

See full 1968 Bentley T1 ‘Coupe Speciale’ Gallery here

In Detail

submitted by Official Galleries
type Concept / Prototype Car

Auction Sales History

 

1968 Bentley T1 ‘Coupe Speciale’ – sold for $172,000

Approximately 25 years ago, while still with Hanson the car had its styling freshened by J.D Barclay & Co. at which point it received 2nd Series Corniche rubber bumpers, modern Corniche style hub covers and a three speed automatic gearbox. None of these modifications are substantial and it could be argued that today it might be worth returning the car to its chrome bumper/wheel disc style.

The car has been shown on occasions at the Schwietzingen Concours in Germany in the early 2000s. It would naturally be a welcomed to any similar events in the future, where it will always be a talking point.

 

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