Late-braking news


With reference to the Bentley 3 litre in the article “Works Experience” in your June issue, the statement that YF2503’s brakes “are barely adequate” calls for comment. The featured marque at Laguna Seca in 1979 and at Pebble Beach as well that year in as much as the organisers included a Class W O was the vintage Bentley. A sister car of YF2503, MH7580 (shown coincidentally on page 138 of this same issue) was owned at this time by Don Weber, a Texan in Corpus Christi. As well as MH17580, Don owned some oil wells, while his friend Ed Swearingen was busy with the Metroliner that is still in use by feeder lines world-wide. I was working out of Detroit for Pierre Cibie, trying to save him from the feds at NHTSA over some doubtful practice in lighting (importing legal motorcycle halogens for illegal use on cars). Don decided that the three of us should drive MH7580 from Corpus Christi to Monterey and Laguna Seca, which we did.

Now, it is well known that the coefficient of friction between a rolling tyre and the road peaks fairly sharply around 20% slip, at which point the slope reverses, thus explaining why wheels suddenly lock up if the driver is inattentive. Don had spent a small fortune on MH7580’s brakes, especially the Perrot shaft geometry. This was completely re-engineered to drawing, i e to original.

It was my good fortune to do a trick at the wheel on old Highway One in California, a dodgy stretch of road where it skirts Vandenberg Air Force Base. It was readily apparent that MH7580 could be set up on the point of maximum coefficient without locking either axle, and do this repeatedly. During the entire visit to California, motoring in all traffic conditions at the going rate of knots was undertaken with complete confidence. In retrospect, dear old `MH’ had the finest brakes of any vintage Bentley I have driven, easily rising to any traffic demand made upon them. If someone says that a Bentley’s brakes are barely adequate, it means merely that they are not to drawing and thus not providing the braking performance that W O had in mind in the first place.

I am yours etc,

Hugh Young, Chairman, W O Bentley Society