The 1951 Bentley Cresta is a car as rare and treasured as they come. This coupé with Italian–French origins is worth much more than just a quick glance. The story and reasoning behind its creation are quite incredible and stretch back to the 1940s, just as Europe was emerging from World War II.
If you’re fortunate enough to own such a rare vehicle like the Bentley Cresta, make sure you have it insured by a company that truly understands the value and the history behind such a remarkable vehicle. Classic Auto specializes in custom-fit coverage for Bentleys and other classic and luxury automobile brands.
But let’s take a closer look at the history of the 1951 Bentley Cresta, as it’s a perfect example of a classic car’s rich story and why such a treasured vehicle is worth properly protecting.
Restrictions follow war’s resolution
As Europe resumed business following World War II, France was reluctant to trade with countries that were its former enemies. The traditionally proud French motor industry shut out any vehicles of German or Italian origin from the prestigious Paris Salon in 1946.
This ban especially hurt small companies; among them was the coachbuilding company run by the Italian automobile designer Battista “Pinin” Farina. However, Farina didn’t take “no” for an answer from the exhibition management. Together with his son, he set off for Paris with two vehicles, an Alfa Romeo and a Lancia, which upon arrival, he parked directly by the main entrance to the Auto Salon show.
During the show, there were at times more visitors standing outside to see these two unofficial exhibits than there were inside the convention space. Suffice it to say, exhibition management was not pleased, and they banned Farina from participating in later motor shows. However, the two cars that he brought had caught the eyes of potential customers and automobile makers. Among them was Jean Daninos, head of the French company Facel-Metallon, who offered Farina a lucrative deal.
The French–Italian partnership
Together with Walter Sleator, head of the Paris Bentley dealer Franco-Britannic Automobiles, Daninos proposed to develop a new coupé body on the chassis of the Bentley Mark VI. Farina would design the car, while the construction of the finished car was to be completed by Facel in France. This rare partnership between these countries ended with the creation of the much-admired, exceedingly rare Bentley Cresta, which even after a rougher start for Bentley, would become a prime example of the luxury car maker’s elegance and bold taste.
Farina gladly accepted this project, and the first few prototypes of the Cresta were built in his workshop. Compared with the 10 examples subsequently built at Facel, the cars were given a wider radiator grille that departed in design from the original Bentley grille. Bentley specially modified the Mark VI chassis supplied to Facel by lowering the steering column and altering other details. By 1951 the unique Cresta was complete, created specially for Mrs. Daninos.
For this particularly adored Bentley, a custom logo was created for it that combined the Farina and Facel names, marking its unique partnership and special place in history.
Owning and protecting a piece of history
Providing coverage for rare classic cars like the Bentley Cresta shouldn’t be left to just any insurer. Not every care insurer understands that such treasured vehicles need customized coverage because each one is special.
At Classic Auto, we insure classic and collector cars and other luxury automobiles. The difference is that we don’t just provide coverage, we learn about the vehicles we insure and the stories behind them. From there, we build policies that fit the needs of such exceptional vehicles and their owners.
If your classic automobile needs insurance, request a quote from us. If you have questions or need more info first, contact us today. We understand collectors because we’re car collectors too, and we can get you the coverage you need.