Bentley - The Vintage Years, 1919-1931

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by Michael Hay. 522pp. 91/2″ x 8″ (Dalton Watson plc. 21 Brook Mews North, London W2 3BW £39.95)

There have been so many truly excellent books about the vintage Bentleys, from the WO biographies, through the coachwork pictorials of Johnnie Green, the technical and deep-historical data from the BDC itself, the critical analysis of the company by Frostick and the in-depth technical study by Donald Bastow, to Darrell Berthon’s splendid racing history, that one would hardly have expected more, apart from the inviting fragments that appear from time to time in the BDC Review. So Hay’s enormous tome comes as something of a shock!

But it is a pleasant shock, because his display of beautiful pictures is the greatest Bentley browsing feat ever although you may have seen some of them before, as there are 526 of them! The “new” pictures of the early cars, bodywork, and racing scenes are most interesting — a morbid one shows what Clive Dunfee’s 1932 500-Mile Race car looked like after he had been thrown from it.

This is in the racing section, and plenty of attention is given to the later Brooklands Specials. But almost half the book is devoted to revision of Stanley Sedgewick’s identification tables. These are now in very easily consulted format and give much new information about the fate of cars in later years, as do the picture-captions.

A stupendous treat, if you love the vintage Bentleys and can afford it, but the inclusion of some advertising is to be deplored. WB