This Bentley ute conversion might be peak Australia
Let’s say you need a pickup truck but your refined tastes find the King Ranch trim level of a Ford F-150 too…low-brow, perhaps? Well, you’re in luck—on May 11, 2019 Silverstone Auctions of the UK will put a 1956 Bentley S1 pickup on the auction block, hopefully sending “the world’s poshest ute” to a new home.
Ettore Bugatti might not given it such a complimentary moniker. He once famously dismissed his British competition as the maker of “the world’s fastest lorries”, using the British term for big commercial trucks, and he was referring to the cars.
This custom pickup started out as a conventional 1956 Bentley S1, purchased new in London by Charles Lloyd-Jones, whose family owned the oldest department store chain in Australia. Jones later sold the six-cylinder right-hand-drive sedan to William Keith Rous, more formally known as the Right Honourable 6th Earl of Stradbroke, who took it to Australia, where he lived.
Australians love their “utes”, car-based pickups similar to the Chevy El Camino or Ford Ranchero. Perhaps that’s why the Earl had New South Wales coachbuilder George Williams convert his S1 to a pickup truck with a beautiful hardwood bed taking up the back half of the vehicle, while keeping the sweeping rear fenders of the original coachwork. The Earl certainly didn’t mind people knowing he could afford a custom Bentley either; he had it painted a bright banana yellow, with the name of his cattle farm on the doors and the image of a Black Angus steer on the center-hinged hood.
In 2011, Rous donated the car to the Trinity Grammar School, which promptly auctioned it to raise funds for a new library for the school. In 2012 an unidentified buyer took the Bentley pickup back to the UK,where it has been in a private collection until now.
The Bentley ute is a little worse for wear, but not terrible given its age. The wood bed, which appears to have been made from mahogany or a similar species, could use refinishing, and there’s some peeling paint, and a few dents, as well as a little rust creeping around the edges.
The auction house estimates that it will sell for between $32,500 and $39,000. That’s a bit of a premium over what our data says a four door 1956 Bentley S1 Standard Steel in similar condition should cost ($22,900), but then you probably aren’t going to find another Bentley pickup truck at all, let alone one cheaper.