World’s Oldest Bentley Dealership Hosts Free James Bond Exhibition In London Featuring The First Two Bond Cars
Jack Barclay Bentley, the world’s oldest Bentley dealership, is about to host a free James Bond exhibition in its showroom in Mayfair, London, from June 11-16. And the relationship between Bentley and Bond isn’t as unlikely as you might think, as in the Ian Fleming-penned novels James Bond’s first cars were Bentleys. The first two of them—a Bentley 4 1/2 Litre Blower and a Mark VI—will be on display for visitors to witness in the forthcoming exhibition.
Bond drives the “Blower” for all of the first book, Casino Royale, but then writes it off while chasing Drax in a subsequent book, Moonraker. Bond quickly replaces it though with a Bentley Mk VI. Fleming revealed in interviews that he put famous spy protagonost Bond in a Blower because he liked him to “use dashing, interesting things”. In addition Fleming’s friend, Amherst Villiers, helped to develop parts of the design of the Blower Bentley, and this may also have swayed the Bond author’s selection.
The history of Jack Barclay stretches back more than 90 years, and its showroom today occupies the same Mayfair site where it was founded in 1953, and is the world’s oldest Bentley showroom. The showroom retains many of its original features, including the iconic checkered floor, wood-paneling and art deco signage. Appropriate to Bond too, the Jack Barclay showroom has “JB” emblazoned famously on its doors!
Jack Barclay also remains the flagship dealership for HR Owen, Britain’s leading luxury motor dealer group. Jack Barclay Bentley has a unique connection to the Bentley brand indeed, with its namesake considered as one of the original “Bentley Boys”. Jack Barclay himself drove a Bentley 4 1/2 Litre to victory in the 1929 Brooklands 500, setting an average speed of more than 107mph.
The Bond exhibition, held in partnership with Peter Harrington Rare Books, contains plenty of interest over and above the two cars. Among the many precious artefacts and rarities that visitors will be able to see, there will be a first edition, first impression of the very first James Bond book, Casino Royale, signed and inscribed by Ian Fleming and valued at £135,000. Also on display is a corrected typescript of The Man with the Golden Gun, a document almost certainly representing Fleming’s last work on Bond. It’s valued at £175,000.
“Bond has been at the forefront of book collecting concerns for decades now, and a large part of that fascination stems from quite how intriguing a man Fleming was in his own right,” said Peter Harrington Rare Books’ owner Pom Harrington. “A lot of the character and quirk that Bond is known for in the novels relates directly to the author himself, and it’s impossible to ignore comparisons between the two, not only in the way he thought of himself, the world and the people in it, but in his pursuits and preferred luxuries. Bentley is a prime example of the latter, and we’re delighted to be collaborating with Jack Barclay Bentley for this exhibition.”
Images courtesy of HR Owen