Darrell Bell's CMS 623 aka Hyacinth

And a new edition B216HR (as yet un-named!)

One of the great pleasures that this website has brought its owner is that it has put me in touch with people all over the World that have become friends. Some have even visited me while they’ve been in the UK.

Darrell is first officer on a privately owned yacht and emailed to say that he was on his way to the UK and would like to pop in. This he did for a couple of days and he brought his latest acquisition with him; a 1950 MVI in black with Brown leather and chassis no. B216HR.

Hyacinth (B25BG) is undergoing a prolonged restoration courtesy of Dennis Fossett who has been asked not to hurry so that funds can be accumulated to pay the bill! Darrell (being Irish!) has bought the new car to tide him over till she’s back on the road.

from darrel

I have been owner and keeper of “Hyacinth – my Scottish old dear” since February 2000 when I purchased her as a 21st Birthday present…. “Well…. we all have to treat ourselves now and again - don’t we?” At the time my Mother did not share the same sentiment and did not speak to me for two weeks after I broke the news to her about the new addition to my garage (She thought I had put a deposit down on a new house). My Father took the news extremely well, and was really interested, although he dared not to say this to my Mother! His only concern being that the car had “fuel pumps” and not “a pump” as in my little MGB. Despite Mothers initial response she came round very quickly after I presented Hyacinth to her.

My Grand mere on the other hand needed no persuasion; she instantly took to be driven to church seated in the back with her Margaret Thatcher style handbag, waving like the late Queen Mother to the entire congregation as she arrived.

To me, being one of the younger members of the RREC & BDC - the Mk VI Bentley offers something that no modern motorcar has or comes near to having. The Mk VI has got bags of character and from any angle, a sense of timeless understated style, graceful presence alongside very simple yet refined mechanicals. I love the two sides of ownership, donning my boiler suit and get dirty working on her and the other side - arriving at function (where there is the usual rabble German machinery), stepping out of a unique British motor feeling a million dollars is all part of fun. There is a mystique, which has been built over the years that no other maker can equal.

I also like the fact when you drive a Mk VI; the sneer factor that is usually associated with the RR & B marques seems to be absent. People look at her as a very British stately old car and smile…I have never been subject to vandalism and feel quite happy to park her in the street, which plays a worrying role in ownership of any classic car.

In the time that I have driven her, she has never let me down, the below adventure was part of an email which was sent to my friend Ashley James, who suggested I send it in so you all could read!

My adventure started on the Wednesday the 10th of February when I telephoned Mike Jones of Michael Jones & Company to get spare servicing parts for the car. During the call I happened to mention to him I needed some minor bodywork done, he said he could sort it out if I brought the car down to him in Stratford. He recommended Dennis Fossett who has a body shop in Henley on Arden, near Stratford. I telephoned Dennis and asked if he would be able to do the work, he was busy but said that he could do it if I was not in a rush. This suited me down to the ground, as I am employed abroad for most of the year I just could not come and pick the car up at short notice.

It was going to be difficult to get the car from Northern Ireland over to Stratford. The handy thing was, at the time I was scheduled to go do a helicopter fire-fighting course at Teeside on the 23rd of February so was able to make a flying visit home the weekend before to prepare the car and hopefully drive down…

Flew home Friday night, Mr. Jones’s 1st class service had the spares waiting for me – I fitted new plugs, HT leads, condenser, rotor arm, cleaned pump points& checked all my levels on Saturday morning.

Sitting over the winter months, the clutch had stuck on – gasp, shock - horror but got it freed by starting her in gear! (A trick I learnt from my late friend Mervyn Bell who had a 1930’s Hillman super sports with the same tendency. Mervyn, is also to be blamed for giving CMS the name Hyacinth (named her after Mrs. Bucket from the hit BBC1 TV series, as when driving in her - one was “keeping up appearances”) With that fixed everything seemed good… I took her out on the carriageway for a test run.

Hyacinth, would normally waft along at 50mph and if I prod a little harder she’d pick up her petticoat and settle to 85mph quite easily. (She eats those little “Smart” cars for breakfast!!!) On the test run she was not doing this… she liked up to 50mph then any more and she was out of breath, as if she was being starved of fuel. I returned home and checked the pumps and rear filter – with nothing abnormal. Indeed I found some rust dust in the carburettors bowls, (this due to the fact that the tank had been run dry over the winter months) I was re assembling the system when Father noticed a thimble sized mesh in the carburettor bowl lid totally solid with dirt. We cleaned them both and took her out for a spin - problem solved.

The next day (Sunday) was the final run up to sort things, I was a bit nervous about the trip to say the least!!!! I drove around a little, gave her a wash and packed up the spares I thought I needed along with my suitcase. Father indeed said “It’s now or never son”.

On Monday morning at 0615 hours, dark and cold I started the car without trouble, pointing her towards Belfast to catch Stena Line’s 0740 High Speed Service ferry to Stranraer. Hyacinth and I making it in good time, express boarded with the norm modern clutter of machinery. The trip across the Irish Sea was very smooth and uneventful, got a marvelous full Irish breakfast onboard to keep me going.

Arrived in Stranraer at 1000, and headed towards the famous Gretna Green. I went by the blacksmiths shop for old time’s sake, just wondering on how many occasions she has passed it in her half century on the road? (She has lived in Scotland most of her life.) Just after Gretna I was on an A road and met a lovely early Austin Healy coming the other way, we waved and blew horns at each other. It was a glorious day; despite being cold I opened the sunroof. Pressing on – arrived at Gateshead at 1350 calling in with my good friend David Knots at his garage in Ryton. David although being a big RR&B fan has a lovely 30’s Austin 12/4 and a 30’s Model A convertible (Miss Penelope Austin and Mr. Bugsy Ford), which he lovingly has restored. I was showing him the benefits of Mk VI ownership… that you can get places in Mk VI and not just have to crawl at Miss Austin’s stately 45mph all the time!!!! He indeed was impressed!

After a quick ten minutes natter, we were off again, I kept a careful eye on water temperature and the oil level, but it did not give any bother for the 45 miles down to Crathorne, near the picturesque village of Yarm.

I hit Crathorne for 1500 that afternoon, finding the hotel without any hiccups. I was staying at Crathorne Hall, the last stately home to be built in Edwardian Britain.

I pulled up outside to be greeted by ‘Storm’ the resident Black Labrador dog and unusually a Spanish porter in uniform with the same kind of accent as Manwell from Faulty Towers, only in all fairness he spoke better English. The porter was waiting in the warmth of the porch…his jaw dropping at the sight of the old dear swishing into the turning circle - lights blazing…he got himself into a bit of a flap (It was hilarious).

Got to reception and the fellow behind the desk just looked at the car then me with a smile… started to giggle and said “Mr. Goldfinger - I presume”. It was very funny, just some of the fun you just can’t have with a modern car!!!

I had a most enjoyable week, attending the helicopter firefighting course at Teeside airport, coming back to roaring log fires and excellent food. It was more like a holiday…. although I didn’t tell my principle that! I do recommend this treasure of a hotel for a weekend away. They cared after the car, keeping a watchful eye on it while it was parked. They thought Hyacinth looked so nice outside – they wanted to keep her!!!!

Anyway. …

On the Friday afternoon despite heavy snow tried for Stratford upon Avon leaving at 1500… I got to Leeds at 1900 - by that stage it was too much for Hyacinth and I. We aborted the mission and diverted into the city to visit ‘Wee A’ my little sister who is at university there studying interior design.

Being a Friday night, unusually my sister was at home having a quiet night in. So I was very lucky!!!! The area that she lives in is where the majority of students live, so I figured it would be ok. I did all I could too make the car reasonably safe just incase.

Hyacinth was parked right outside the bedroom window so I would hopefully see everything going on. Everything was fine as the public houses emptied the usual student passers by could be heard admiring the car (Being student accommodation it had single pane glass). I went to bed at around 2300.

I had dropped off to sleep – at about midnight I awoke to this group of lads who were shouting with a touch of a slur “F***in Hell it’s a F***in Bentley. F***. look at that”.

I just cringed in bed waiting to hear smashing glass…they were standing talking about her …I lay in bed and was getting a bit worried. They were there about 10 minutes … then I started seeing camera flashes… I got up to see what was going on and found one sitting on top of the radiator, while another two were draped up each of the front wings…. getting their photos taken…I could see they were being very careful despite having obviously consumed a few beverages …I just laughed - no harm done... Little sis was up by this stage, just shook her head…commenting something about “boys and their toys” and retired once again…we got back to sleep and woke up to a heavy frost and a touch of lying snow.

Headed off at 8am, and got to Henley on Arden without fail at about 1300ish, were I met Dennis and showed him the car. In his workshop he had lots of Crewe’s finest in various states of repaint! I could have spent all day being nosey!!

I was no sooner there and had to head back on the train up to Glasgow. (Dennis gave me a lift to the station in his lovely blue Rolls Royce Silver Spirit.) I caught the train and sat reading Alan Clark’s diaries on the way up – getting to my house in Glasgow at 2200 that night.

 

I was quite happy with the car … 800 miles at 50 /60 mph. She averaged 18mpg – which I though was very reasonable for a lady who is known to have a thirst and has just passed her 57th birthday! The engine didn’t give any bother at all despite being well used!!! A credit to the engineers who built her … I think she is amazing.

It was a brilliant journey which I would do tomorrow again... have to go back in June/July to pick up the finished car, so I hope to maybe take her on down to France for a Classic Le Mans break.

If anyone remembers Hyacinth - CMS 623 Body B35BG please do get in touch, I would love to hear from you. I have very little history on the car, just snippets here and there. I purchased her from Richard Barbour in Killern, near Loch Lomond who owned her from 1995 (who I have visited) then previously again- the RR& Bentley - Edinburgh agent J Murray, it starts to get a little hazy from this point – a spell with a lady in Whitsable down in England for a spell and possibly that a Manager of the Glasgow Rangers football team owned her???

Darrel Bell