A multi-millionaire is selling one of the finest private collations of Bentley cars ever assembled to pay for his divorce.
Robin Cannon is reluctantly giving up the fleet of classic British motor cars he has kept in a custom-made, climate-controlled garage at his country mansion.
The stunning £5million Jacobean property has already been sold after Mr Cannon and his wife Jane split up in 2019.
Mr Cannon, who owns a chain of care homes, has since had to have the seven Bentleys and a 1959 Chevrolet Corvette moved into storage.
The seven immaculate motors, that span 80 years of the British marque, are expected to sell for more than £1.5million when they go under the hammer with Duke’s Auctioneers of Dorchester, Dorset.
The cars include an ‘outstanding’ 1929 WO Bentley 4.5-litre that was supplied new to Bentley financier Geoffrey Joel before it was exported to India in the 1930s.
Multi-millionaire Robin Cannon, pictured with wife Jane, is reluctantly auctioning off his collection of Bentleys which span 80 years of the British firm’s history, to pay for his divorce. The immaculate collection will go on sale at auction later this month
The seven Bentleys were kept in a custom-made garage. Pictured: A 1956 Bentley S1 Continental Fastback worth £400,000
Pictured: this 1929 Bentley 4 ½ Litre is the oldest model in Mr Cannon’s collection and has an estimated value of £700,000
Mr Cannon bought the Bentleys about five years ago and had the museum-quality garage built for them on the grounds of Newton House in Newton Surmaville, Somerset. Pictured: A 1961 Bentley S2 Continental has an estimated value of £300,000
After being lost and rediscovered in Afghanistan in the 1970s it was driven back to England on a four week, 5,700 mile journey. It is valued at £700,000.
Mr Cannon, 67, said: ‘My ex-wife and I split up in September 2019 and after selling the house I didn’t have anywhere to store the cars.
‘I have been under pressure to sell them as part of the divorce.
‘I am making the effort to sell them. It is not a distress sale and I am not being forced into it but it is sensible for me to sell them.
‘No collector likes parting with his or her collection and it does sadden me to see them go.
‘I am assured that there has been quite a lot of interest in them already and I hope they all end up going to good homes.’
Pictured: Newton House in Somerset. Mr Cannon and his ex-wife bought the home in 2007 and spent several years restoring it
The Jacobean manor house built by a wealthy merchant named Robert Harbin sits on the river Yeo and was completed in 1612
Newton House sits within 60 acres of land, 40 in Somerset and another 20 acres on the other side of the river, in Dorset
Mr Cannon bought the Bentleys about five years ago and had the museum-quality garage built for them on the grounds of Newton House in Newton Surmaville, Somerset.
But at about the same time he developed a problem with his foot linked to his diabetes which has prevented him from driving manual cars.
He said: ‘I am a very keen aficionado of Bentley and I appreciate the history of the car and the development of them both synthetically and mechanically. I did have a 12-car garage custom made at the house.
Pictured: A 1935 Bentley Derby 3 ½ Litre is the second oldest model in the collection and has an estimated value of £180,000
Pictured: A 2007 Bentley Azure worth an estimated £90,000. The Bentley Azure model was first introduced in 1995
‘I bought them to drive them but I didn’t realise at the time that my damn foot would take so long to heal.’
Guy Schwinge, of Duke’s, said: ‘This is a magnificent collection of some of the finest Bentley motor cars in existence. The auction is an opportunity for serious collectors to buy the best.
‘Mr Cannon, a passionate collector with an eye for the very ear, has reluctantly decided to sell his beloved collection.
‘The WO Bentley is quite simply an outstanding piece of British motoring history. Only 665 of tase cars were made and this one has a spectacular history which is very attractive to the most exacting collectors.’
The Bentley S3 is the third and final incarnation of the sixties Continentals and this model has an estimated value of £180,000
The 1959 Chevrolet Corvette C1 is the only non-Bentley item in the collection. It rivals in style and performance all other cars of this period, and perhaps all American cars ever produced, according to experts, with an estimated value of up to £70,000
Elsewhere in the collection there is a 1951 Bentley Continental S1 Fastback valued at £400,000, a 1961 Bentley S2 Continental worth £300,000 and a 2014 Bentley Continental convertible worth £75,000.
Mr Cannon and his ex-wife bought Newton House in 2007 and spent several years restoring it.
During their time there, the Cannons started up a gin distillery called Newton House Gin. According to LinkedIn Mrs Cannon works as an events organiser for The Bespoke Gin House.
The sale takes place on March 11.
‘Some of the finest Bentleys in existence’: Collection features cars spanning 80 years of the British marque
The 1929 Bentley 4 ½ Litre
Only 665 examples of the Bentley 4 ½ litre were ever made, over a short period of four years. This model was first supplied to Geoffrey Joel in 1929 and still retains the open touring coachwork design by Vanden Plas, of the attractive Long Bonnet shape.
The car was later exported to India some time in the 1930s and was not discovered again until 1971 when it was found to be in Afghanistan in the possession of Hassan Hamid.
After some necessary restoration carried out to a very high standard in Hamid’s factory, the owner employed his friend and member of the Bentley Drivers Club, Lt T N Allan of the RAF, to drive the car back to England.
After aiding the preparations of the vehicle, Mr Allan took four weeks and over 5,700 miles to complete this remarkable expedition, the car suffering no serious problems.
Auctioneers Duke’s say the sale of this stunning example is an opportunity for the right person to become part of the great British Bentley legacy.
Starting bid: £500,000
The 1935 Bentley Derby 3 ½ Litre
The Bentley Derby 3 ½ Litre was the first model to be manufactured after the company was taken over by Rolls Royce in 1931 and manufacturing was transferred to Derby – hence the title.
The model was designed to maintain the associated sporting heritage of the Bentley, whilst incorporating more of the marque luxury of Rolls Royce.
Owned by Mr Wallace Elliot since 1935 until 1874, this vehicle’s second owner, Mr John Routley, instructed a restoration of the vehicle which took six years.
In 2014, further restoration work, which cost up to £100,000, was carried out over a period of two and a half years including chassis realignment and renovation of all mechanical components.
Duke’s say this model is ‘one of the most desirable Bentley’s currently on the market’.
Starting bid: £140,000
The 1956 Bentley S1 Continental Fastback
The Bentley S1 Sports Saloon was first introduced in 1955 and quickly became synonymous with effortless high speeds and luxury touring.
According to Dukes, of all the designs, and possibly all the Bentley’s, the Mulliner S1 Continental Fastback is the most iconic example of high-performance elegance and they also say this early example has ‘a fantastic and comprehensive history’.
She was first displayed at the Earls Court Motor Show and not long after sold to a Mr D Letts, known for racing MG’s at Brooklands in the 1950s and a highlight of its story includes it being rallied in Australia in 2010, taking part in ‘Bentleys Australia Over the Top’, 44 Bentleys travelling through the outback.
A full restoration was carried out in 2017 at a cost of £17,000 before it was sold to its current owner.
Starting bid: £300,000
The 1961 Bentley S2 Continental
In 1952 the Bentley Continental S1 Sports Saloon, established itself as the embodiment of graceful high-speed cruising.
For several years thereafter, the S1 and its sister model the Silver Cloud, dominated this market. However, by the late fifties, increasing competition was developing from the United States, where faster rival vehicles had begun to appear.
In response, when the Bentley S2 was first released in 1959, it was fitted with a new 6230cc aluminium-alloy V8 engine. This enhanced considerably both the power and ‘flashing acceleration’ offered.
Mr Cannon carried out a major restoration of the vehicle in 2019 at a cost of £25,000, ensuring the car maintained its original patina and bespoke features that evoke sixties style and luxury.
Starting bid: £200,000
The 1964 Bentley Continental S3
The Bentley S3 is the third and final incarnation of the sixties Continentals. Arguably achieving the most attuned state of luxury sportscars of the period.
The V8 engine had been re-engineered to employ a higher compression ratio, with larger carburettors; this increased horsepower and enabled the car to reach a top speed of 115mph.
This car was originally ordered by Reckitt and Coleman, a major supplier of household products based in Hull. Over the years, its various owners have had careful restoration work carried out including respraying and re-chroming.
Duke’s describes the car as a ‘luxury car to drive and a privilege to be seen’.
Starting bid: £120,000
The 2007 Bentley Azure
According to Duke’s, the Bentley Azure was first introduced in 1995 as a four-seat, convertible grand tourer. It was built with rich luxury in mind, ‘to be placed, not parked’.
This model is widely considered to be the far superior example of this statement of luxury. After the take-over battle between Volkswagen and BMW, VW were to make sure all models they were to produce avoided using rival manufacturing.
The remarkable upshot of this for the new Azure was that it was fitted with the ‘old’ Bentley V8. Updated with twin turbochargers, and extensively reworked using a host of new parts, it would produce 450bhp and 645lb/ft of torque.
This example was purchased by our present owner in 2018 and has a personalised number plate.
Starting bid: £80,000
The 2014 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible
Not much more than a year after its initial reveal, the revamped 2014 GTC was released to the public. Building on its already impressive reputation, the new model focused on improving its two main directives: performance and comfort.
Car magazine testifies of this model ‘it’s hellishly quick in a straight line’ and is capable of 0-60mph in 4.1 seconds and reaching a top speed of 203mph.
Despite its no comfort-spared interior and three-layer fabric folding roof, contributing to a weight of 2495kg, the handling is remarkably assured.
Offered as the most contemporary car in the Newton House Collection, this GTC completes the series of exceptional Bentleys, marking another significant moment in the story of the brand.
Starting bid: £65,000
To read more about the Newton Collection, visit Duke’s to find out more information.