Restoration of a Weymann-Bodied 1930 Bentley Speed Six...
Only a handful of fabric-covered Weymann-bodied automobiles have survived the 80 or so years from the late 1920's/early 1930's when the fabric bodied process was widely practiced. Known survivors are mostly Bentleys from the European continent while American survivors include a few Stutzs and a couple Duesenbergs. It was a time when coachbuilders of finer horse-drawn carriages had been pushed into the wings, occasionally rendering a repair on a horse-drawn vehicle while the primo craftsmen from their ranks worked for the coachbuilders of luxury auto bodies. Interestingly, both coachbuilders catered to the same rich crowd at one time or another.
Flamboyant, strikingly bold, extravagantly dashing and colorful, over-the-top competition was intense among luxury car builders. It was a time when rich, style-conscious clients ordered expensive coachwork influenced by the Art Moderne movement which flourished in the 1920's. Streamlining and modernistic inclinations were beginning to bud big time.
The fabric-covered body concept patented by Charles T. Weymann revolves around the idea that bodies based on aircraft design procedures in which the body panels are layered with a thick padding followed by a top layer of lacquered fabric are lighter, quieter and safer than a conventional metal-based bodies. Weymann promoted the notions that his sedan bodies weighed about half as much as conventional sedan bodies. Passengers experienced less noise due to the manner in which the thin ash framework is built; the wood pieces are joined together by metal bracketry with gaps between them. They never touch and never squeak. Plus, the thick buildup of materials insulated the passenger compartment from road noise. Roads, at the time, were far from smooth. Also pitched was the idea that a fabric-covered body being lighter than a similar metal-bodied one has a lower center of gravity and, thus, is less likely to roll over in an accident.
The 1930 Bentley Speed Six, the centerpiece of our story, has a Weymann body built by the J. Gurney Nutting Co., Ltd., of England, one of many luxury car makers who purchased rights to build the Weymann patented design.
This particular Bentley's glorious history is told in Automobile Quarterly, Vol. 44, No. 1. The glory road it traveled began when the original owner Glen Kidston, London playboy and accomplished racer among other passions he harbored, purchased it for sporting runs. Over the years, it passed through several owners until 2001 when Richard Scott, Sidney, Ohio, purchased it. Scott had picked this particular car since its restoration would not follow a conventional trail. Scott loves an adventure.