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Royal Ride Refuses to Roll! Jaipur’s Vintage Bentley Dodges Bidders at Million-Dollar Auction

In a surprising turn of events, the 1930 Bentley 6½-Litre ‘Speed Six’ Sportsman’s Saloon, once the prized possession of Maharaja Man Singh II of Jaipur, remained unsold at RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2019 auction. This remarkable machine, a historical automotive gem, was expected to fetch between $2.6 to $3.2 million USD (around INR 26.52 crore), but fate had other plans.

Hailing from the era of the British Raj, this Bentley is more than just a car; it’s a rolling testament to India’s opulent past and its princely states’ love affair with luxury. Owned by Sawai Man Singh II, who became the Maharaja of Jaipur at the tender age of 10, this Bentley was a symbol of his royal status and love for the finer things in life.

The car, chassis no. LR2778, is not just any Bentley. It’s a Bentley 6½-Litre ‘Speed Six’, a marvel of engineering of its time, built with an aluminum-skinned body by H.J. Mulliner. Its engine, a powerhouse in its own right, is stamped “S” to denote the ‘Speed Six’ model, with features like dual SU carburetors and a compression ratio of 4.9. This Bentley was the epitome of luxury and performance in its day.

Sold to the Maharaja in October 1930, the car’s journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. After spending years in India, the Bentley returned to England in 1937 and changed hands several times, each owner preserving its legacy and grandeur. This included Dennis “Denny” Becker, who used it for extensive touring across Europe, and later Ian Findlater, who took meticulous care of this automotive jewel.

In a bid to restore the car to its original glory, the current owners entrusted it to R.C. Moss, a name synonymous with top-notch restoration in the world of vintage cars. The restoration, overseen by Bentley historian Dr. Clare Hay, was so impeccable that it bagged triple awards at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Yet, despite its pristine condition and illustrious history, the Maharaja’s Bentley failed to find a new home at the auction. This begs the question: is the market for royal rides cooling down, or was it simply a case of wrong time, wrong place? One thing is certain, this Bentley, with its regal roots and impeccable restoration, remains a crown jewel of automotive history, albeit one without a new throne… for now.

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