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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Chance meeting brings Bentley back
By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South of Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Bentley
Mr Watt with the car he last saw in 1970
A chance meeting on a business trip has helped a man from the Borders to return a vintage Bentley into his family's ownership - 37 years after his father sold it.

David Watt, of Earlston, was devastated as a seven-year-old boy when his father sold the cherished car in 1970 and thought the family heirloom was lost for ever.

However, during a recent visit to Wales he happened to meet a dealer who specialised in Rolls Royce and Bentleys.

Thanks to his efforts they were able to trace the 1956 Bentley S1 to Canada.

After much negotiation, Mr Watt was able to persuade the new owners to let him buy it and ship it back to Scotland.

'Adapted features'

Mr Watt described having the 25,000 Bentley his grandfather bought brand new for 4,500 in 1956 back in the family as "more than a dream come true".

"My sisters and I have such happy memories of growing up on the south side of Glasgow and going on family holidays around southern Ireland and cannot believe we have finally managed to get it back," he said.

"My father was paralysed down the left side from World War II and many of the car's controls were switched to the right hand side so he could drive it and, although it has been extensively restored, those adapted features and the original walnut veneer are still there.

"It caused a huge gap in the family and I always teased my father on why he got rid of it hoping one day we would see it again."

Mr Watt's grandfather Philip Ellis, who lived in Middlesex, sold the car to his son-in-law Eric Watt in 1965.

Old Bentley
The Bentley was owned in 1950s by Mr Watt's grandfather

Eric - a founder of the McKellar Watt sausage factory in Glasgow, who passed away six years ago - decided to sell the car to a London dealer in 1970 as he wanted a smaller vehicle.

According to records it was sold to a Dr Stone who worked in the Canadian Embassy in London and when he was transferred home the Bentley went with him.

It was then sold to another owner and was badly in need of repair when former airline pilot Roger Hadfield bought it in 1986 and started to carefully restore it and respray its paintwork.

He initially declined to sell the car when contacted by Mr Watt but eventually the Bentley enthusiast relented and agreed to the deal.

Amazing journey

From Toronto it was shipped back to Liverpool via Antwerp in Belgium and then transported by an agent to Lasswade in Midlothian, at a total cost of 1,600.

"It was a fluke how I found it and an amazing journey home but it has all been worthwhile," said Mr Watt.

"My mother and my sisters were so delighted that we had managed to get it back and it is a joy driving it around the countryside.

"I hope to re-spray it back to its original two-tone colour but that is for another day - the house needs a new boiler first!"

Now anyone wanting to see the vehicle with such an unusual story is to get the chance.

It is one of the star attractions at Sunday's Borders Vintage Automobile Club annual display at Thirlestane Castle near Lauder.


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