The Ex-Maharajah of Bhavnagar 1929 Bentley 4½-Litre Four-Seat Tourer Coachwork by Vanden Plas Registration no. EL 1112 Chassis no. NX 3452 Engine no. NX 3454
George Daniels absolutely adored his Bentleys. He added this beautifully presented 1929 4½-Litre to his Collection as recently as 2003. Now offered here as a low mileage example of its renowned type, direct from the Daniels Collection, this 4½-Litre Bentley spent the first 35 years of its long life in the ownership of a most prominent and highly-regarded Indian nobleman, the Maharajah of Bhavnagar.
Reigning from 1919-1965, Commodore His Highness Maharaja Raol Shri Sir Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavsinhji Sahib, Maharaja of Bhavnagar, KCSI was more simply known either by his brief title, or as Kumarsinhji. He came to be regarded as a most enlightened Indian aristocrat and he ruled his city domain in the north-western Indian State of Gujarat for no fewer than 46 years, spanning both the prominent period of the British Raj in the 1920s and Indian independence.
Kumarsinhji had been born at the Darbargadh Palace, Bhavnagar, on 19th May 1912, and educated at Rajkumar College, Rajkot, Brayar's Prep School, and at Harrow School, in England. Aged only seven, he succeeded upon the death of his father on16th July 1919, ascended the gadi at the Darbargadh Palace, Bhavnagar, on 17th July 1919 and then reigned under a Council of Administration until he came of age and was invested with full ruling powers on the 18th April 1931.
As Maharajah of Bhavnagar, Kumarsinhji continued progressive reforms initiated by his father and grandfather. He reformed tax-collection methods in his state, introduced village councils and set up Bhavnagar's first legislature, known as the Dharasabha.
His progressive achievements saw Kumarsinhji knighted in 1938, but despite such essentially Imperial honour he remained quietly committed to the cause of eventual Indian independence. Therefore, upon Independence in 1947, Kumarsinhji became among the first of the Indian monarchs to accede to the Dominion of India. Soon after, in 1948, he merged Bhavnagar into the state of Kathiawad. He ruled not only as the last Maharajah of Bhavnagar from 1919 to 1948 but also served as the first Indian Governor of Madras the modern-day Chennai on the opposite coast of India from 1948 to 1952. He even played first-class cricket albeit very briefly for Madras, turning out in just one match, in which he scored four runs in one innings and five in the other so first-class batting total nine, first-class average 4.5... rather apt.....
In 1952 he had also been made an Honorary Commodore in the Royal Indian Navy, while he served as Vice-Patron of the Indian United Services Institution. After reigning as Maharajah of Bhavnagar for 46 years, he died in April 1965, still aged only 52.
With the approval of his adminstrators, Kumarsinhji had bought this imposing Bentley 4½-Litre VDP Tourer as new in 1929, while he was still only 17 years old. He retained the car for almost the rest of his life, but by 1964 when purchased from Kumarsinhji's family by a Mr A. Sparrow it only had a mere 21,000 miles recorded upon its odometer.
It was not returned to England until 1971 when it became one of the Cheddar Motor Museum's most attractive exhibits. When the Somerset museum was closed in 1979, 'NX 3452' now offered here was purchased by Mr L. Thomas. At that time it had still covered only some 30,000 miles and was highly regarded in Bentley Drivers' Club circles, though "ready for a rebuild". Later in 1979 the car was consequently stripped back to bare metal and resprayed to match the original colour scheme, while also being re-trimmed with a new hood and side screens to original pattern. It should be noted that when new the VDP body would have been fabric and it is not known when the car was re-skinned in metal. It may have been in 1979 but there is no documentary evidence on file to say either way. Most, if not all, of the tourer body frame is original VDP. Not until 1982 was significant engine work noted, with new pistons being installed at that time.
In 1999 the car was acquired by Clive Palmer, from whom it passed via Tim Houlding in 2003 to George Daniels. Within the Daniels Collection it became a much loved, historic, comfortable and versatile companion to the Birkin Blower Single-Seater.
It is now offered here as a singularly desirable 'Four-and-a-Half' with unimpeachable provenance, the attractive history of having spent the first 35 years of its long life as a Maharajah's favoured sporting tourer, then most recently cherished preservation and regular exercise within George Daniels' connoisseur collection.
A document file accompanying the car contains numerous annual tax discs and Ministry of Transport vehicle test certificates, and fine photo-copies of its original chassis cards. The file also contains The Bentley 4½-Litre Instruction Book by Bentley Motors Ltd and a photo-copied reproduction of Technical Facts of the Vintage Bentley. The car's original coachwork order sheet is also on file confirming it as having been Vanden Plas order number 1555.
The car offered here proved to be the last of George Daniels' long series of ''Four-and-a-Halfs' about which he wrote: "To me they represent the best in motoring. They have speed, reliability and room for people and luggage. A 70 year old 4½-Litre will cruise effortlessly at 80mph for thousands of miles without any attention other than servicing...". Today, that pleasure could become yours...