Chapter 9 - The case of the “Old Number 1”

The case of the “Old Number 1”

The Bentley Old No 1

By sheer coincidence, in 1988, my ex-brother-in-law Murray Rosen was a barrister and told me about a case he was handling.

He’d been engaged to defend Mr Edward Hubbard who had sold the rebuilt Bentley Number 1 that he now owned to a Japanese syndicate for £10 million pounds. They claimed it was not the original car that had won Le Mans in 1929 and 1930 driven by Woolf “Babe” Barnato.

Murray had no idea that Woolf was related to me!

The car, which was known as Old Number One, started life when it was selected at random from the Standard Six production line in preparation as the Bentley team entry for the 1929 Le Mans race.

At that stage it was technically known as a rolling chassis, consisting of a chassis or chassis frame, an engine, steering column, suspension and wheels. It bore the chassis number LB2332 and the engine number LB2336. It was taken to the racing shop where it was stripped down and rebuilt to a higher specification by Wally Hassan, the master mechanic, and others.

It was the second Speed Six to be built. It had a six-cylinder, six-litre, engine, with a non-detachable head in the form of a conventional internal combustible engine.

In 1990 Murray won the case and everyone was happy; Edward Hubbard kept the sale proceeds and the Japanese had a certificate of authenticity second–to-none.

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