John Bays confesses to being a classic car “nut.” The classic English motor cars are the Virginian’s passion. Bays’ company, Regal Limousine in Springfield, VA, currently operates a 1952 Bentley R Type Sports Saloon, a 1949 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith, a 1957 Bendey R Type, and a 1978 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow II.
The 1952 Bentley was originally painted black with a single gold line, brown leather hides with brown piping, and fawn head cloth. The original Radiola model 6200 radio is still in perfect working order.
The vehicle is an authentic right- hand-drive and features a four-on-the-floor transmission with serve- assisted front brakes. Other vehicle features include a sliding privacy shade for the back window, sunroof, twin exhaust system, phantom 3 radiator, and 16-inch wheels with “gum dipped” Firestone white- wall tires. The Bentley still has a maximum speed of 105 mph and an engine with the equivalent of 31% horsepower.
Regal Limousine focuses mainly on the wedding business in the Washington, DC area. The company charges about $100 per hour, plus gratuity. Regal also offers historic tours of the Capital City, anniversary packages, and nights on the town.
The chauffeurs are well versed in the history and idiosyncrasies of each vehicle, which adds to the clients’ enjoyment. “Customers who like the classic cars are interested in the vehicle’s history,” says Bays. “When the chauffeur can talk about the company that built the vehicle and the original owners, it adds to the total experience.”
Bays has had to meticulously maintain his classic vehicles. “Repairs and maintenance costs for these vehicles are incredible,” he says. “Repairs that are $200 for a Lincoln are $500 for these vehicles. I have also established a network of contacts with dealers and classic car clubs so I can find parts.”
If a limousine service wants a simple, versatile wedding vehicle that is inexpensive to run, do not consider owning a classic car. “However, these vehicles are magnificent, provide lasting memories, and definitely can increase your bottom line,” says Bays.
1952 BENTLEY R TYPE SPORTS SALOON
OPERATOR: John Bays
COMPANY NAME: Regal Limousine
LOCATION: Springfield, VA
REVENUE SOURCES: Weddings, historic tours, anniversaries, and nights on the town.
FEATURES: Authentic right-hand-drive, four-on-the-floor transmission, serve-assisted front brakes, sliding privacy shade for the back window, sunroof, twin exhaust system, phantom 3 radiator, 16-inch wheels with “gum dipped” Firestone whitewall tires, original Radiola model 6200 radio, maximum speed of 105 mph, and an engine with the equivalent of 31½ horsepower.