Vintage Postbag, April 1972



Bentley in New Zealand


By good fortune I was passed a copy of your July, 1971 Motor Sport and read with interest Mr. Shand’s letter on Bill Hamilton. I think Mr. Shand is correct in his assumption that the Hamilton Bentley was confused with mine which was a 1929 Black Label 4 1/2 brought out to NZ soon after the war. I used it from about 1948 to 1954 before letting it go to a good home in Auckland (Mr. Horton Jnr.).

I remember with fond nostalgia its incapability of letting me down under any conditions. When I was at sea, I stored it for quite lengthy periods, merely draining the water, removing plugs and battery and taking weight off tyres. It gladly welcomed my return by seeking the minimum attention before, at first press of the button, the twin magnetos aroused the accustomed throb of the Pulsewell silencer and we were mutually mobile and eager for the fray. I was stationed one mid-winter at an inland Naval radio establishment and the Bentley was left blanketed in snow for several weeks. As usual, she broke into song at the first press of the starter.

During the years she was my companion, I stripped the motor down several times, not that it needed attention (although I did a ring job and renewed the bearing shelves) but to provide the opportunity to appreciate the immaculate conception of the moving parts.

As Mr. Shand mentions, I did have the dubious distinction of demolishing a a row of verandah posts and a number of plate-glass windows. I clipped the first one with the front near hub. This drove the front axle back, gave me a fixed turn to port, and wrecked all compensation of the brake rods. I ground to a halt inside a shop window. Minor bending of the front chassis and a punctured radiator were the only wounds.

Hawera, New Zealand. G. H. Tunnicliffe.