Cars in books, April 1993

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

To help this column along, JE Dussek of Plaxted has kindly contributed a most interesting chapter from Round the World with an Appetite by Molly Castle (Hodder & Stoughton, 1963). The authoress seems to have been a pioneer of the now popular cookery books and TV recipes programmes. But the chapter under review describes her visit to Le Mans in 1929. She clearly made this journey and the book is not fiction. But the names of the personalities involved have been changed, creating a nice exercise in identity for Bentley DC and other historians.

After the run from London to Le Mans, they saw the race won convincingly by the Bentley team – a 6 1/2-litre and three 4 1/2-litre cars. The winning Speed Six was driven by Barnato and Birkin, at an average 73,62mph.

Molly Castle describes the fifth car of the Bentley team as a supercharged 4 1/2-litre, which “although it was considered an inferior motor car by people in the know, would do 110mph on the road.” It had been “acquired recently” by Lois’s boyfriend Bill, one of at least four oily and indifferent young men whose horizons were bounded by Bentleys in the east, Berkeley Hotel in the west.”

The blower 4 1//2-litre Bentleys could not be prepared in time for this 1929 Le Mans race, so three unblown 4 1/2-litres had to be substituted in haste. Presumably the fifth of these blower 41/2 Bentleys had been sold to ‘Bill’.

So who was Bill?

Molly’s friend was Mac, partner to Bill in a motor business with offices in Sackville Street. It was a business run apparently more to enable them to buy their own cars at a discount, rather than for profit, and the offices were used frequently for cocktail parties. The car is described as painted in British green, with “the number 10 still daubed on a black disc, relic of the Double-Twelve, or whatever Brooklands race it had competed in unsuccessfully.” So there’s a clue . . . except that in the only JCC Double-Twelve race then run, the number 10 Bentley was WB Scott’s, which did retire. But ‘Bummer’ Scott was partnered by his wife and, although she did remarry later, would he have departed for Le Mans the following month with another girl?

Possibly, but we are spared any aspersions about ‘Bummer’ because his was a non-supercharged Bentley.

I find myself wondering: who were ‘Bill’ and ‘Mac’? The story of that Le Mans visit is delightfully told. The girls shared the bedroom of the men, but only for strictly moral catnaps. But the statement that ‘Bill’ drove better when he was drunk would not do today!

On the way out there had been a night at the Ritz in Paris, plus a visit to the Folies Bergeres. Then it was on to Le Mans, their Bentley getting a fine reception from the French as they drove about – had not these British cars won there in 1924, 1927 and 1928?

During the race the girls were lent a bedroom occupied by “Robin and Toby, racedriver friends of Bill’s”, for a wash and a rest. ‘Robin’ Molly describes as more of a racing driver than her boyfriend Mac, and also more fun. The son of a millionaire peer, he had his own aeroplane, in which he had flown to Le Mans.

Could he have been the Hon Brian Lewis? Was ‘Toby’ Rose-Richards?

They had shared a Lagonda, which retired.

Molly went in a taxi to the airfield to see ‘Robin’ off, then drove in the Bentley to Chartres for dinner, later stopping for the night at Dinard. The following evening they were back in London, having left on the Friday before and covered 1500 enjoyable miles in between.

It’s a delightful period piece, with those anonymous personalities and cars to sort out. The account rings entirely true, except where Molly Castle mentions “Nuvolari going well”. He wasn’t in the race, but she was recalling the happenings seven years later. . .

W B