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it was almost impossible to tell without very close examination the difference between it and the standard body.” At about the same time as the “all-steel”


bodies were being developed for the Bentley chassis, Park Ward addressed another problem, this time for the more formal Rolls-Royce cars. This was how to allow more legroom for rear-seat passengers when a short wheelbase car was ordered with a retractable glass division between the front and rear compartments. When driven by the owner, there was no need for confidentiality but the retractable division ensured that when piloted by a chauffeur, privacy could be maintained. The well-established method for opening the division was by handle or electric motor, which would lower the glass into the backrest of the front seats, in front of any furnishings that would enhance the rear compartment, such as picnic tables or a cocktail cabinet. Park Ward’s solution was an arrangement


that raised the glass up and back above the rear compartment headlining. This meant that the front- bench seat backs could be designed at an angle, enabling rear passengers to partly place their feet under the front seats, and even more intricate furnishings could be attached to the backs of the front seats. To close the division, one would wind the crank handle, which opened the headlining flap; the glass then slid forwards in a descending arc, until the lower edge met the woodwork of the seat division, and stopped in the vertical position. It could be lowered a further inch so that the chauffeur could receive his instructions. It is unclear exactly how many of these “disappearing” divisions were fitted, but it was probably around 43 or so.


AIRFLOW INNOVATION Park Ward’s innovation was not restricted to components alone, and while is it true that a good few coachbuilders were building bodies that reduced wind resistance, Park Ward had built two such bodies on Derby Bentley chassis, the designs of which were adapted in the final form for a 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II, chassis number 86SK. In 1952, Charles Ward described the car in an


illustrated talk given to the Worshipful Company of Coachmakers and Harness Makers: “1934 40/50 Rolls-Royce six-light Airflow saloon; this is the third development stage from the original experimental Airflow Bentley, where we were challenged to build an Airflow body on a Rolls-Royce chassis and here you can see our interpretation of this design. You have already seen three stages of development, i.e. Bentley number one was a two-door, four-light Saloon, number two was a four-door, four-light Saloon and number three, portrayed here, is a four door, six-light Saloon. If you will look at the wings of this car you will see that we have modified the cycle-type of wings and are now producing on this body one which is faired, with a sham cycle type front wing. In other words, this cycle wing was mounted on the body and not directly to the wheel. “You will further see how we have faired the


rear portion of both the front and rear wings; further I want you to look at the enclosed rear wheel, which we have designed by fitting the first full-length panelled spat, and it is interesting to note how the running boards run into the fairing of the front wing. The very long overhang of the rear of this body carried a tremendous luggage boot, and housed in this boot were four sets of golf clubs, in addition to this was luggage for four people for


three weeks’ Continental holiday. You can see that in the rear doors we have fitted quarter ventilator windows, and if my memory is correct this was the first car to have this type of vent window in both front and rear doors. This body gave rise to great controversy in the higher-up design personnel in general, and one very important person in the motor industry stated that the car would go faster backward than forward. This latter point I believe is technically correct.” What Charles Ward did not mention was that


in the form described, the tail was so heavy that the car was highly dangerous when driven in the wet at over 40 mph. So the tail was shortened and, with reduced weight capacity, the rear end stayed where it should while cornering at speed. When car body production restarted after the


end of the Second World War, British car design picked up where it had been left off in 1939, but it was not long before Park Ward was again at the forefront of innovative design. A good example was instigated by “Doc” Llewellyn-Smith, who was on the boards of both Rolls-Royce and Park Ward Ltd, the company having been bought by Rolls-Royce in 1939. He was concerned that British coachbuilders were lagging behind the latest US designs and would suffer in the post-war world market. Park Ward rose to the challenge and the Wentworth coachwork on a Silver Wraith, chassis number WGC47, was designed for the 1948 London Motor Show. The style known throughout the trade as “the New Look” was not successful and customers continued to appreciate the traditional approach of British coachbuilders. The Wentworth’s straight line at waist height


from front to rear wing was too advanced for its day, but Park Ward would try again some 10 years


THE ENTHUSIAST 89


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