First delivered to Captain J.S. Coates in October 1926, she was acquired in 1934 by Lieutenant Colonel Euan Rabagliati. At his request, H.M. Bentley carried out upgrades to Speed Six specification, and bodied the car as an open four-seat sports tourer, with a rakish windscreen and sweeping wings - evocative of the SSK Mercedes of the time. The resulting sporting Bentley, road registered BXB 8, befitted Rabagliati’s outstanding wartime record in the air.
Joining the Royal Flying Corps in 1914, Rabagliati downed the RFC’s first German aircraft of the war and was later awarded the Military Cross for gallantry during a perilous reconnaissance mission along with the Air Force Cross and the Légion d’honneur. A Lloyds member in peacetime, Rabagliati served in the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 in the second war, running agents in the occupied Netherlands.
Finished in dark midnight blue with grey leather, BXB 8 retains all of the important detail from the 1934 build, including superb Carl Zeiss headlamps, matching spot lamps, racing instrumentation, outside gear lever, and rear-mounted spare. A magnificent photo of the car as new in 1934 is printed in the well-known Bentley reference works by Johnny Green and Clare Hay.
This 6½ Litre has continuous history from new and underwent a full-dress restoration for then owner Lord Laidlaw with a marque specialist in the 1980s. From there it passed into the hands of one of the most loved and respected leading lights of the BDC. Benefitting from substantial upkeep in present ownership and affectionately nicknamed “Big Blue”, she remains in excellent order and has been extensively toured in events spanning Europe, North America, New Zealand, Jordan and even the Arctic.
In sum, a sporting Bentley tailor-made for a hero of the air war destined for the secret service and supplied from the collection of a latter-day Bentley hero - surely an impressive and capable mount for her next very fortunate owner.
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