Ted Reich, one of the world’s foremost authorities on Rolls-Royce and Bentley motorcars, died Tuesday, July 16, 2013. He was 84.
Originally from Shaker Heights, OH, he came to Oregon to attend Reed College, class of 1951. After marrying, Ted and his wife, Gloria, lived in a small cottage in Dunthorpe, OR, later settling in a house they built in 1956 in the West Hills of Portland.
A true renaissance man, Ted was an expert in many fields. He was passionate about literature, music, history, sailing, model cars, fine food and wine, travel, photography and almost anything English — especially Rolls-Royce and Bentley motorcars.
Ted was a walking encyclopedia on the two marques, and could name any and all specifications of every model ever built. At a glance, he could spot design cues distinguishing the various coachbuilders, too. If he learned the VIN on any of these cars, he could tell you when it was produced, any special features it carried, whether it was left- or right-hand drive, standard- or long-wheelbase.
A longtime member of the Portland Yacht Club, Ted spent many happy hours sailing his sloop on the Columbia River, with Gloria as first mate. When weather was not conducive to sailing or driving one of the impeccably maintained cars kept in his glass-walled garage (“so I can see them from inside my house, of course”), he could be found in his basement workshop repairing and maintaining car bits for his extensive model car collection and his motorcars, listening to classical music and chuckling when one of his beloved cats would keep him company.
When he and Gloria were first married, their only car was a Springfield Rolls-Royce Phantom II Brewster Newport, or as he referenced it by its VIN, 284AJS. He loved to tell the story of how Gloria, pregnant with their son, David, discovered a flat tire on this car and didn’t hesitate to get out the tools and personally change the 20-inch wheel in the grocery store parking lot.
For over 50 years, Ted showed his cars at concours and club meets including the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance in Oregon. He generally drove his cars to events, personally detailed them and then drove them home, usually with a trophy tucked away in the boot. Ted and his son David participated in the 2007 Mille Miglia in their Bentley 3 Litre.
After a long and successful career as a stockbroker in Merrill Lynch’s Portland branch, he retired to devote even more time to his family and many hobbies.
Ted was president of the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club, an international club for both Rolls-Royce and Bentley motorcars, 1980–81. He loved the cars and those who preserved and maintained them, and he took great umbrage at anyone who did not. He was also President of the Historical Automobile Club of Oregon and helped found the Pacific Northwest Region RROC.
Most of all, he believed in driving the cars, sharing them with family and friends. It was not unusual to see Ted on the streets of Portland driving one of his vintage Bentleys, running errands, visiting friends or pulling into the Multnomah Athletic Club parking garage for a workout or a swim.
He acquired and personally restored several 3 Litre Speed models and a magnificent open 8 Litre. Ted and Gloria also owned a Silver Ghost and enjoyed participating in the Silver Ghost Association activities. It was no secret that his favorite was his Derby Bentley, B16MR, a car he acquired over 50 years ago.
From the 1960s until recent years when declining health interrupted his busy schedule, Ted attended most of the RROC and Bentley Drivers Club meets here and in England, and always with his beloved Leica camera. His photographs were fine enough to be published in most of the archival publications on the two marques, as well as countless car club magazines.
Ted is survived by his wife Gloria, son David, daughter Evy and four grandchildren, Carolyn, Christopher, Claire and Lila.