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Information on shade of green for vintage Bentleys
Q&A :: 0024

QUESTION   Hi, I'm very curious to know whether there was any set shade of green for vintage Bentleys. I've always known of the generic British Racing Green, but recently I read an old article in Octane magazine that suggested the correct shade was called Napier Green. Any information on this would be gratefully recieved.

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  Question by: Gerald Maiello
Posted: Mar 08, 2014
  ANSWER (2)  

Well there is not any correct shade of green. Most modern restorations are finished in a shade that Jaguar made popular in the 1950s. Bentley Legend Len Wilton did a lot of research on the subject when he built a recreation of Old Mother Gun on one of its original frames.

Since every car was brush painted it is very hard to tell what is the most authentic color.

When GF 8507 was restored it was painted a darker color, which may be correct. Due to the lack of color photos we will never know.

It is also important to note that few of the cars were green to start with. Grey, blue and black were very popular.

  Answer by: Gregory Porter
Posted: Jan 13, 2015
  ANSWER (1)  

I havn't seen the article, but it is generally accepted that BRG did not correspond to any standard shade. It was just dark green. Even in 50s and 60s, British Racing Green on English sports cars meant a variety of colors. Using the Ditzler System, for Austin Healey is was #120 and then #58; for Jaguar, it was #65; for TR, it was "yellower than" #58.

Additionally, few Bentleys were painted green in the 1920s, it was not a popular color. To document: New car Bentley ads in Autocar for 5 Sept 1924 (picked at random) include the following: Standard chassis Gurney Nutting tourer, blue with blue leather; sports model 4-seater (probably Vanden Plas) Paon blue, blue leather; sports 4-seater, gray, w/ gray leather; sports 4-seater, scratched aluminium (clear paint over natural metal); long chassis saloon, stone with matching leather; speed model, standard 4-seater, white w/ green leather; speed model, Park Ward body, black w/red leather; speed model, Vanden Plas 4-seater, scratched aluminium; speed model 4-seater, oxidized black (matte finish), polished bonnet and blue leather. Used Bentleys in this issue include 3 sports 4-seaters in brown, scratched aluminium and gray granite, and a 4-door saloon in dark blue. NO Greens!

That's only one issue, to be sure, but I've been through a great number of Bentley ads from the period, doing research on another matter, and colors in the ads in the 5 Sept issue are not atypical. I quickly went through the 14 Nov issue, again picked at random, and again, no green Bentleys were advertised. And for the same research project, I've worked through the Jack Barclay sales records, beginning in 1929; Barclay handled a large number of Bentleys, new and used, and colors were always recorded. Very few of them were green.

Go to a concours today, and you'll see a field full of green Bentleys. That was not the way it was when the cars were new. But then, few of them had the infamous (to me) "LeMans replica" bodies either. Modern restorations have not created Bentleys that correspond very well to the cars' appearances when they were new.

  Answer by: Jack Triplett
Posted: Dec 22, 2014
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