If a dictator offers to buy your car from you, sell it to them, otherwise, they will just steal it. That is what happened to the 1958 Bentley S1 Continental (BC25LDJ) Drophead Coupé Coachwork by Park Ward & Co. Ltd; one of only 31 left-hand drive examples erected to their design number 700.
The Drophead was delivered in March 1958 to its first owner: H.R.H. Crown Prince of Iraq, the only Bentley S Continental convertible, delivered new to royalty. Of all the R-Type, S1, S2, and S3 Bentley Continentals produced, this was the only one delivered new to Iraq.
Sadly, soon after the car was delivered, the prince lost his life in the military coup d’état on July 14th. In 1968 Mr. Janabi, a businessman from Baghdad purchased the car, and the car remained titled to him until 2014. In full display of wealth, Mr. Janabi had the car painted white for his son Omar’s wedding vehicle. In 1992 the car appeared in a movie called “King Ghazi of Iraq” filmed in Baghdad.
This is where the problems started. Hussein is known for his love of luxury cars, along with his sons, Uday and Qsay. Hussein made multiple offers to Janabi, but each time Janabi refused the privilege of selling his vehicle to Hussein. Janabi did not understand the seriousness of Hussein’s request until it was too late. Hussein took the car and painted it a two-tone silver and blue. It was never registered to Hussein, always belonging to Janabi, but in Hussein’s garage.
After the fall of the regime, there was a wave of destruction, and the car was vandalized. Mr. Janabi learned from the Iraqi licensing office that after all those years the car was still registered in his name and his plate number: 36707. With this, he was able to prove to the occupying U.S. military that the car was his but sold it because it would have cost too much to repair the Drophead Coupe.
In 2016 Mr. George purchased BC25LDJ and commissioned Vantage Motor Works of North Miami, Florida for a complete restoration of the car. It’s first showing in any Concours was at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Watch the video, note the license plate.