A 97-YEAR-old vintage Bentley – which starred in the 1967 spoof Bond movie Casino Royale – found itself going back to its roots when it revisited its former home in Skibbereen after more than 50 years.
Mike and Kathy Warner – who bought the car 15 years ago and re-assigned the original number plate ME 5800 to the car – traced its history with the help of renowned Bentley historian Dr Clare Hay.
Dr Hay’s research revealed that it once belonged to a Bill Thallon, who lived out the Baltimore Road in Skibbereen, from the late 1960s onwards. It was affectionately known by many Skibb locals as ‘Bill’s Bentley.’
Bill and his wife Joyce moved to Skibbereen from England in 1968 and brought the Bentley over with them.
They lived in ‘Lindisfarne’, which is now owned by Catherine O’Keeffe and it’s safe to say their 3l car stood out in the town back then. The couple were well known in the area and Bill worked for a period in the West Cork Hotel.
The Warners from Dartmoor in Devon – who are members of the Bentley Driving Club – toured around Ireland last week in their car, along with five other vintage Bentley enthusiasts, and they were delighted to get a chance to see the place where their car once spent time.
‘We just wanted to see where it lived and try and connect with its roots. It’s had about six owners in total and during World War II it was actually dismantled and rebuilt again after. It then ended up in a castle in Germany where it remained for about 15 years as part of a collection,’ Mike told The Southern Star.
‘We bought it in 2004 after it came back from Germany and it looked lovely. It’s a complete original but we put in a lot of work below the skin, like a new radiator, and we’ve redone the engine, the wheels, the brakes and the electrics, and the screen.’
The Bentley is no stranger to either the silver screen, or the small screen, as it had a starring role in the 1967 James Bond spoof comedy film Casino Royale, starring David Niven, Peter Sellers and Ursula Andress, all part of a stellar cast.
Remarkably enough, Ian Fleming’s choice of car for his hero was a Bentley in his first novel, before he then switched to the now-familiar Aston Martin.
‘David Niven played James Bond and in the film the Bentley can be seen leaving a Scottish Castle and being chased by two blondes in an E-type Jaguar,’ said Mike.
‘After a frantic car chase, it ends up in Downing Street to report a dastardly plot to kill the Prime Minister!’
Mike also recalls that apparently the Thallons themselves featured on a television programme about people who had successfully emigrated to Ireland.
‘The car was seen and heard approaching the camera across the countryside, with its distinct shape and exhaust burble.’
The car is now worth an estimated £400,000 and it certainly turned heads as the couple drove from Kenmare to Skibbereen last Friday.
‘As each one is unique and known, and all the parts are known, you couldn’t steal it or sell it!’ Mike quipped.
Despite it being almost 100 years old, the Warners have taken their Bentley across Europe and even took it in a container and shipped it to South Africa about four years ago.
As for selling their beloved Bentley, it’s something Mike says he won’t consider doing – at least until he becomes too old to drive it!