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The Bentley Bar Car

In 1974 I purchased a 1956 Bentley S1 Saloon for $6,000 from Anderson Auctions. It was dove grey with grey hides, a wood dash, and two veneered tray tables mounted to the back of each front seat.

By Jeff Mason

March 16, 2021

I was going through my trying-to-be-like Paul McCartney period. I also acquired two English Sheep Dogs, inappropriately named Enzo and Dino when the Bentley joined the Minnick stable.

I bought the car without driving it which proved to be my first mistake. Not only was it slow (0 to 60 in a day and a half), but it handled like a whale out of water and leaked oil like a Harley. It sat in my garage like King George, staring at my other cars while it collected dust.

The Bentley Bar Car is Born

The Bentley Bar Car had bar trays on the back of the front seats.

Then, one of my more enterprising friends discovered the Bentley’s true purpose. Mike got into the back seat of the Bentley, now named George, one day while we were in the garage talking cars. He pulled down the tray tables and placed his gin and tonic on the table. He then proclaimed, “It’s a Bentley bar car! The BBC!” We all chimed in, “The BBC will hit the streets as our bar hopper car of choice.”

Who’s Your Driver?

Long before the term, “designated driver” came into vogue, (remember this is 1974) we would appoint one of us as the “driver” for the night – usually with a striped hat, shorts, and a bow tie – while the other three passengers would have cocktails on their trays as we drove from bar to bar. We always had to make an entrance. Before long, the Bar Car was a Buffalo institution. Sadly, like all things British, it consumed my wallet with all too frequent repairs and it was sold.

The Bentley Bar Car story was first published in Car Nation.

Robert P. Minnick is founder and CEO of the Piston Foundation. The cars in his life and the people he calls friends because of those cars inspired him to create a national fundraising platform to preserve car culture. He’d like nothing better than to know future generations can have experiences as memorable as his own.

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