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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Camargue Déjà vu

I like a good story. Especially one with a lot of speculation, a heavy dose of shadiness, through in an arms dealer who trades helicopters for coffee, a dodgy bank that bribes and how about tainting a Royal Family? Sounds interesting. Oh, and some Bentley spotting as well.

Lets start with some names. His Royal Highness King Hussein of Jordan, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, a one Mr Bilbeisi, Mann Egerton of London, Bank of Credit and Commerce International, Lloyd's of London, David the Bentley spotter and a 1977 Rolls-Royce Camargue JRH17364. Nice mix. There is certainly a plot in there.

Let me introduce the Rolls-Royce Camargue JRH17364. A nice number.

The Camargue was made in 1977 is currently for sale on ebay USA Item number: 290230910087. The Carmague is in Washington DC and it comes with a little bit of history.

A cynical RROC member will be nodding there head. Yes yes every Rolls Royce or Bentley has a story behind it. Get on with it.

You can tell that the car is not from around the DC area. It is right hand drive, and sports a UK registration plate. Only on the front that is, but unusually with the rear numberplate on the front. But please keep it there! It is the basis of why I am writing. TYO 826S mental note.

Now to the advertisement on ebay. It states "We have documentation from Mann Egerton of London England stating that this vehicle was purchased by a Mr. Bilbeisi for the late King Husain [sic] of Jordan. The vehicle was first registered in the United Kingdom 11.10.77. The car was driven in Jordan and was returned to Britain in 1986."

So it has been on adventures! I like it. Mann Egerton was a Rolls Royce dealer and coachbuilder who supplied their first body to a Rolls Royce in 1909. Documents from the company would be pretty solid.

Now it gets interesting. I wonder who Mr. Bilbeisi is. Google is your friend. It seems that the surname Bilbeisi is pretty popular in Jordan. Lets pick two.

You could guess that Mr Bilbeisi could be Mr Ali Bilbeisi or a relative, who is a founding member of Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan's Royal Health Awareness Society that is a 'newly formulated non-profit organisation which was established to promote health awareness among a wider public focusing on comprehensive access to information and help raise healthy and socially-responsible citizens, living in harmony within a safe environment.' Keep up the good work. From Queen Rania's website here.

But that sounds too realistic for a Rolls Royce history story.

Google directed to a York York Times article about another Mr Bilbeisi of Jordan called Munther Bilbeisi. A much more shady character. Most likely not associated with the Royal Family of Jordan at all, but the story would not be as exciting.

How about a Guatemalan - Jordanian coffee deal that involved a sketchy $30 million dollar loan from a dodgy bank who bribe in helicopters? Oh and some jet fighters thrown in with bombs and then been over charged? Sounds like this Mr Bilbeisi was a bit more interesting.

Read the article in the New York Times here.

And in mentioning jet fighters, the Camargue dials are just superb. Cockpit control. I would take one.

Now this is a bit unexpected. A Hooper and Co name plate. I do not know what modifications they did to this Royal car, but my guess wound be interior, there is a glimpse of a leather rear parcel shelf and is that a Hooper steering wheel? Hopefully the Mann Egerton documents will state what Hooper carried out.

Now to the pièce de résistance David the Bentley spotter. He was there. Taking photos of Rolls Royce and Bentley cars in the late 1970's and 80's.

Out the front of Mann Egerton.

And also happen to spot TYO 826S. Yes this exact car for sale on ebay, spotted when it was brand new in London. Simply amazing!

Was the King inside? We will never know.

A previous post about another Bentley spot that David found a modern picture of is here.

A big thank you to David for sending in his pictures of his Bentley spotting days from the late 70's and early 80's and for noticing the ebay ad.

If readers have old pictures or article ideas, please send them in.

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At 2:13 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The man who owned it was Munther Bilbeisi who passed away in 1999. He purchaed many Rolls Royces, Bentley and Corniche which were shipped to countries like Spain, USA, Jordan and Switzerland.
He was my father.

At 3:13 pm, Blogger 3Rex said...

This is chassis #JRH17384.Som believe this may have been an early experimental car. The chassis # would suggest a build date of 1973-4, prior to the introduction of the Camargue in 1975. by 1976, chassis numbers were well into the 24000 to 25000 range. Note the similarity between this car and the early factory publicity photos shown elsewhere on Bentley Spotter. Naturally, those photos show the factory experimental registration plate of TU 1800 retained by the factory. Interesting to speculate...Could this be the same car?

At 6:50 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was moved and saddened to hear of Munther Bilbeisi's passing in 1999 as he played a seminal role in my life. I drove with him in his blue Corniche in Jordan and have a picture of him with my son at the Intercontinental, Amman in 1974.

At 3:59 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am also deeply saddened to hear of his death... he was a dear benefactor to me in years past... can someone contact with me with recent news of him? I am anxious to reconnect...

At 4:31 pm, Blogger Yasmin Bilbeisi said...

To anyone who knew the ACTUAL Munther Bilbeisi, not the mythological 'villain' portrayed in internet articles, please contact me on . I would love to hear from people who actually knew him.

At 4:42 pm, Blogger Yasmin Bilbeisi said...

To anyone who knew the ACTUAL Munther Bilbeisi, not the mythological 'villain' portrayed in internet articles, please contact me on . I would love to hear from people who actually knew him.

At 2:24 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew him and his kids in the early 70’s. What a fun time I had with the Bilbeisi’s in Geneva and Majorca

At 2:27 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last time I saw him and his brother was in Hollywood, Florida. The only reason I left is I was homesick and wanted to go home to Kansas City. I didn’t know his business ventures, I only knew the good guy


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