More automakers have made pickup trucks than you might think. Yes, there are the obvious classic trucks from Ford and Chevy, but even luxury brands have entered the truck ring. Lamborghini made one with a V12; Mercedes-Benz has made several pickups. Porsche hasn’t, but it arguably could. But there is one brand for whom a pickup is almost inconceivable: Bentley. And yet, we clearly don’t know what that word means. Because, as it turns out, a classic Bentley pickup truck exists. And it’s used to make champagne deliveries.
When did Bentley ever make a pickup?
To be fair, Bentley didn’t exactly make a pickup truck from the factory. Then again, neither did Ford, in the early days.
In pre-WWII days, cars and trucks, especially high-end ones, were sold purely as a chassis. Then, the buyer brought the body to a coachbuilder, who fit custom bodywork and an interior. The early Bentleys, including the famous “Blower” models, were made this way, as were the first pickups. Buyers bought the platform, then bought and fitted a separate bodywork ‘kit’. Today’s body-on-frame SUVs are directly descended from this practice.
What exactly is this classic Bentley pickup? Is it even a pickup?
As Petrolicious reported, originally this 1939 Bentley 4 ¼ Litre had a body by storied British coach working firm Vanden Plas. However, according to the vehicle’s current ‘caretaker’, Philippe Rosy, in 1949 the Bentley was sent to Vincent’s in Reading. There, it was re-bodied as a ‘shooting brake’.
Usually, as discussed by Road & Track, a shooting brake combines the two-door styling of a coupe with the trunk space of a wagon. And indeed, this 1939 Bentley does have two doors and swoopy, wagon-esque roof. But the passenger area is clearly separate from the storage space. Which means, like with car-based pickups, it has a separate bed. Which, therefore, makes it a pickup.
The Bentley 4 ¼ Litre has a fascinating history on its own. Originally named the 3 ½ Litre (because of its 3.5-liter, later 4.25-liter inline-6), this was the first chassis released after Rolls-Royce bought out Bentley. Although some Bentley traditionalists worried the brand was moving away from sportiness towards luxury, W.O. Bentley himself allegedly preferred the 4 ¼ Litre over earlier models.
However, this specific 1939 Bentley 4 ¼ Litre remains a one-off.
Does it actually deliver champagne?
Philippe Rosy doesn’t look after this classic Bentley pickup on his own. Rosy is the chairman and custodian of Champagne house Comtes de Dampierre. And yes, this Bentley pickup does indeed transport champagne around the vineyards and to make local deliveries. Rosy has also taken it to the UK and Belgium, as well as several French car festivals. One of the pickup’s previous owners, Mulberry founder Roger Saul, used it to transport guests at his Somerset estate.
Comtes de Dampierre is also not the only Champagne house to own and use a vintage British vehicle in this way. Rosy claims that Krug operates a classic Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II panel van. Although said van’s history is a bit murky, both Hooniverse and Autoblog have credible sightings of it.
Your classic may not be as elegant—then again, few things whisper of elegance like sipping champagne while being chauffeured in a vintage Bentley. But if a champagne producer can use an 80-year-old British pickup to make deliveries, you can drive your vintage ride in the winter. Stay classy, Monsieur Rosy.