- Written by webmin
Freestone & Webb is not a household name in America, even among cognoscenti, but in England, the London-based coachbuilding firm is of some renown. Most of their output–as many as 15 cars a year at their peak–was on Bentley and Rolls-Royce chassis, and they were stalwarts at the London Motor Show, where they won their private coachbuilding class some nine years running.
By American standards, they were extraordinarily long-lived. V.E. Freestone and A.J. Webb formed the company in 1923, and including a break to work on Spitfire wing construction during the War, did business for 35 years.
Not surprisingly given the survival rates of Rolls-Royces and Bentleys, a fair percentage of Freestone & Webb cars remain, including a 1935 Derby Bentley 3½ litre Saloon that will be offered at the new Historics at Brooklands auction on June 2. And Freestone & Webb is included with the car.
About 30 years ago the consignor, who appears to be the second or third owner, became curious about the disposition of the coachbuilder of his Bentley, and investigated the status of the trade name. He discovered its ownership had lapsed and acquired the rights to the name. Along with the car, he will transfer to the buyer ownership of the right to operate a company of the same name as the original constructor.
The estimate is £75,000 to £90,000, which is high for a Bentley saloon of the era, although restoration ran to £170,000, and the car remains in great shape. The last 3½ litre Saloon I know of to appear at auction was a Park Ward body (chassis B68DG, engine R2BL) at Artcurial last summer; it didn’t make reserve with a €50,000-70,000 estimate. Prior to that, Bonhams sold the same Park Ward (chassis B16DK, engine T7BJ) twice, in 2007 and 2008, at an average of £29,336, and a Freestone & Webb at Silverstone in 2008 for £58,700.
Historics at Brooklands has done a good job promoting their new sale, and has some very appealing and interesting cars lined up, so the right bidders should be on hand. We’ll keep our eyes on Companies House for any action on the Freestone & Webb name.