The man who owns Britain's biggest private car collection--including a vehicle once owned by Elton-- is selling. This is despite having spent a fortune travelling the world finding and then buying some of the rarest, original British models before shipping them back home to be stripped down, restored, repainted and then put back together over a period of usually three years by a dedicated team of mechanics under the watchful eye of dentist and owner James Hull.
Hull has been doing this over many years. He is best known for his success in cosmetic dentistry, especially in the fields of teeth whitening, veneers and implants. He now has a fair number of warehouses packed to the rafters with classic cars from the past 80 years or so.
Besides Elton's old Bentley, the goods include Lord Mountbatten's Mini Traveller and Winston Churchill's Austin.
RM Auctions sold the former in 2009, describing it as a cousin of the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II. ''The Bentley S2 retained the basic body and chassis of its predecessor, the S1, but replaced the S1’s six-cylinder engine with a new aluminium overhead-valve V8. Rolls-Royce, Ltd. disdained horsepower ratings, but the new V8 was estimated to develop some 230 bhp and, due also to its lighter weight, made the Silver Cloud II and S2 much faster than their immediate predecessors. Introduced in September 1959, the S2 also shared with Rolls-Royce an automatic gearbox.
''The 'Continental' name originally graced a flowing two-door coupé by H.J. Mulliner on the 1952-55 R Type chassis. When the S1 was introduced, the Continental was given higher compression for better performance. A four-door version, called 'Flying Spur,' became available on the S1 in 1957. All these styles were continued on the S2, where Continental production totalled 388 cars.''
When it was purchased by Elton in the 1970s, the Flying Spur was believed to have had three prior owners.
The vocalist ''committed it to Weybridge Automobiles for a bare-metal respray and complete refurbishment of the interior and mechanical systems. It was completed in Brewster Green with harmonising green leather interior. Weybridge Automobiles continued to maintain the car, and it was during this period that air conditioning was fitted,'' according to RM.
The Flying Spur was one of Elton’s favourite automobiles during its tenure in his collection. John Newman, his fleet manager, said it was used frequently to transport the luminary’s many guests.
Ill health has led Dr. Hull to put the Flying Spur and the rest of his collection up for sale. But he wants the assortment of 457 classic vehicles, 365 pedal cars and 300 pieces of memorabilia (including model aircraft from WW1 and WW2) to all stay together - hence the overall price tag of £100 million. This is said to be the highest value sale of classic cars ever to take place in the UK.
“I'm merely a passionate custodian of this hugely significant part of British history and, with luck, I will succeed in finding a home that can not only be enjoyed and treasured by the British public but also be admired by visitors from across the world,” stated Hull. “It is the culmination of a life-long hobby. Each car has its story and all have played a part in the history of British motoring. It is part of our heritage.”