The family of a retired chauffeur has helped celebrate his 100th birthday—by tracking down and buying the luxury Rolls Royce he drove 60 years ago.
Eddie Hughes was given the powerful 6.25-litre V8-engined car by his family as a surprise birthday present.
They tracked down the car in Beverly Hills, California, and paid 32,000 pounds (approx. US$44,000) to buy it and ship it back to the UK.
His son Ron, 69, had spent more than 20 years searching the world for the vehicle.
Eddie, from Lacock, Wiltshire, first picked up the Bentley from the Rolls-Royce car factory in Crewe while working for his employer Mr. Bell.
The former professional chauffeur last drove it in 1964 before leaving employment with Mr. Bell to take up a new job in Kidderminster, Worcestershire.
But after years of scouring the internet, the precious motor vehicle was found—in the United States.
Eddie’s Bentley was being offered for sale by the Beverly Hills Car Club in Los Angeles.
James Coleman, Eddie’s grandson, drove the keen golfer in the car to Whitley Golf Club, where he celebrated his centenary with his family.
“I just could not believe it. It was wonderful to see it again,” Eddie said. “I was very emotional when I saw it. I never knew anything about it.
“It still drives excellently. You feel safe in a car like that and when driven properly it drives very smoothly.”
Son Ron, who lives in Tomintoul, Scotland, said, “I had looked all over the world for the car, after dad told me it was the best car he had ever driven.
“I contacted Rolls-Royce, the Bentley clubs, and car clubs all over the world and it never came up.”
The car was finally found by chance when James, 31, entered the registration number on Google and it popped up.
“We could not believe it when it came up,” he said. “It was being offered for sale by the Beverley Hills Car Club.”
The family contacted the luxury car dealership in L.A. to ask if it was still for sale.
They paid 32,000 pounds for the car and to have it shipped back to the UK, where James, who owns JC Performance in Westbury, made sure the vehicle was put back into tip top condition before being given to his grandfather for his birthday.
“I had to do a bit of work on the brakes, suspension and rebuild the carburetor before giving it a full service,” James said. “The car was very complete with its original parts but its running condition was poor until it was fixed.”
The brown-over-champagne-colored Bentley has a sand beige interior and is now registered jointly to Eddie’s son Ron and son-in-law Paul Coleman.
“It has a 6.25 liter V8 engine and a top speed of 120 mph and does about 18 miles to the gallon at best,” Eddie said.
“When it came out of the factory, it had seat belts fitted front and rear, sun dim glass windows, and refrigerated air conditioning.”
The Beverly Hills Car Club had advertised the vehicle for sale as a “very elegant” British classic car that is mechanically sound.
The dealership said, ”It comes equipped with an automatic transmission, air conditioning, power steering, wood trim, rear picnic trays, white line tires, and solid wheels.”
Sadly, Eddie plans to hand in his driving license later this year after 83 years at the wheel, so he won’t be driving it.
“I’ll be leaving that to my family,” he said.