- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2001

Ace Rosner is driving one of the best reasons that owners of antique cars should join the local club affiliated with their make of car.
Back in the 1980s he owned a 1937 Bentley 4 and 1/4-liter Park Ward Coupe and as a club member was listed, along with his car, in the club directory.
His 15-foot, 10-inch-long Bentley rode comfortably on a 126-inch wheelbase and, of course, was powered by the silky-smooth 4 and 1/4-liter six-cylinder engine. Power was transferred to the rear wheels via the four-speed transmission operated by the shift lever inconveniently located on the floor between the driver's knees and the suicide-hinged door.
Mechanical brakes were up to the task of bringing the 3,800-pound car to a halt.
Altogether, Mr. Rosner was quite pleased with his Bentley coupe. Then in early spring of 1989 he received a telephone call from Eileen Halliday in the Bahamas. The recently widowed Mrs. Halliday had seen Mr. Rosner listed in the Rolls-Royce/Bentley directory as the owner of the 1937 Bentley. "Would he," she queried, "like a twin to his Bentley, but an open car?"
Mr. Rosner expressed an interest in the car and upon learning that the widow would soon be moving to Naples, Fla., asked her to again contact him when she was settled in Florida.
Six months later the expected call came. Mr. Rosner arranged for a trusted friend in Fort Lauderdale to inspect the widow's Bentley and report to him.
"If you wash it," the friend reported, "It's in show condition." Mr. Rosner had his friend buy the car, move it from Florida's west coast to the east coast, and store it for him in a Fort Lauderdale garage.
Six more months elapsed before Mr. Rosner could make the trip to Florida to retrieve his treasure.
He made a reservation on Amtrak's Autotrain for the next day.
Pouring rain greeted him the next morning. Knowing that the cars must be loaded on the train by 4 p.m. and that 275 miles separated him from Sanford, the Autotrain depot, he bit the bullet. Armed with Rain-X to shed water from the windshield he drove off into the storm. The odometer had registered only 36,000 miles.
The electric windshield wipers were virtually useless in clearing the one-piece windshield but the Rain-X lived up to its advertised claims.
Mr. Rosner drove through the monsoon and arrived at the railhead in time to see the Amtrak crew load his Bentley onto the Autotrain. It was the last car.
"I had a great time on the train," Mr. Rosner enthuses. The Amtrak crew carefully drove his Bentley off the train at Lorton and Mr. Rosner happily drove home to Washington.
When new, the 1937 Bentley 4 and 1/4-liter Park Ward Drophead Coupe sold for about $7,675. The most expensive 1937 Ford, in contrast, had a sticker price of $859.
Mr. Rosner discovered the condition report from his friend had been accurate. The open car twin to his closed car needed only minor cosmetic attention to be in show condition.
The brown body with cream pinstriping and cream fenders were easily polished to a brilliant sheen and the tan fabric top needed no attention at all.
Both front and back seats are still covered in the original gray leather. So, too, is the boot to cover the top when it is lowered, as the chrome-plated Landau bars twist on their hinges.
The two wing mirrors, as the front fender-mounted mirrors are called, are very useful, Mr. Rosner says, especially on a right-hand-drive car. Also useful in city traffic are the dual trumpet horns, one on either side of the single driving light mounted in front of the radiator. The radiator has 16 vertical thermostatically controlled louvers.
The two headlights, each with an impressive 10-inch-diameter lens, leave a lot to be desired, according to Mr. Rosner.
"They light up the road 20 feet in front of the car," Mr. Rosner said, "but the beam is 500 feet wide. They blind everyone."
At the other end of the car are a pair of "D" taillights, one on each fender, on either side of the trunk, which is hinged at the bottom.
Since the 5.25x18-inch spare tire, mounted on 56-spoke wire wheels, each with three wheel balancing pegs, is mounted on the trunk lid it will strike the bumper when lowered. Bentley designers cleverly avoided this problem by splitting the rear bumper into the two end pieces.
Mr. Rosner was delighted to find the wooden dashboard as well as the wooden window sills in remarkably good condition.
Long before Mr. Rosner got the car the trafficator signals were outlawed so the semaphore arms were sealed shut.
On the occasional trip to Baltimore or West Virginia Mr. Rosner reports cruising generally between 60 and 65 mph. A cowl vent is there if needed, but he likes to run with the top down. "It takes two men and a boy to put the top up," Mr. Rosner explains.
In the last dozen years Mr. Rosner has added less than 2,500 miles to the odometer of his Bentley. His original Bentley coupe has long since been sold in order to keep this 4 and 1/4-liter drophead.
"It's just a magnificent car," he said.
But he wouldn't be the happy owner of the car unless he had been a club member with his name in the directory.

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