Richard C. Wheatley
Titles by the Author
Richard C. Wheatley

Pictured above: Richard C. Wheatley and Brian Morgan enjoying the fruits of their labors at Goodwood in their 4 1-2-litre Bentley.

Obituary of Richard Charles Wheatley

by Brian Morgan

Dick Wheatley was lucky enough to have enjoyed a great deal of what we now call Vintage motoring in the days when they were the current cars and in the conditions for which they were designed. His father owned an Edwardian Daimler complete with chauffeur and it was rather typical of Dick that he over-revved this so violently in bottom gear up Porlock Hill, before he was old enough to have a licence, that one or more sleeves broke and the family tour of the West Country was brought to a sudden halt of several days until spares arrived. It was also typical of Dick that he effected the repairs while the chauffeur stood and watched.

Working in and eventually running the family leather goods manufactuary all his active business days, Dick had a marvellous aptitude for making friends both young and old. One such friendship was with a local used-car dealer specialising in the top end of the sportier part of the market which gave Dick a wonderful pportunity of trying many of the better cars when they were o nly a yea r or two old. He remembered each and every one and so was a mine of information on what was really good and what only appeared as though it might be and in later days was most authorative on the originality aspect of any particular model.

Owning a DISS Delage in the early 30's he then became distracted by the joys of horses and hunting and it was not until after the war that Vintage cars came into his life. After one or two false starts he acquired his 4 1/2 litre Bentley, the restoration job of which was completed, nearly entirely unhelped by professionals, in 1955. This led to him being invited in 1956 to write a book on the subject of amateur car restoration with which I helped him during a series of uproarious Friday night meetings spread over a year and during which the forthcoming author's fees were more than expended on food and drink of which we were both more than fond.

Dick had been a life-long sufferer from weakness of the abdominal wall and despite three operations for hernia he eventually had to realise that heavy vintage steering was more than he could manage so the Bentley was sold. He intended to build a replica of the Eddie Hall T.T. car of the 30's and bought a dilapidated 3 1/2 Bentley as the raw material. He somehow got diverted into rebuilding the inside of his house in which he displayed all his craftsman's abilities for working in wood and metal as he had on his cars and the T.T. replica never evolved. Dick met and married Dorothy, a very skilled horsewoman and a marvellous gardener, during his horsey days and she has been a tremendous help to him particularly in the last year or so when a combination of old age and illness really caught up.

Richard Wheatley was a jolly drinking companion, a master craftsman in many trades and a connoisseur of the better cars of all ages.

Reprinted with kind permission from and courtesy of the VSCC Bulletin, the official quarterly publication of the Vintage Sports-Car Club. For more information on the VSCC, visit them online at http://www.vscc.co.uk/.