Our roads are getting faster

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Just before it suspended publication, Autocar carried the story of how Stanley Sedgwick, President of the Bentley DC, covered more than 1,000 miles in 24 hours on British roads in his open 1931 8-litre Bentley. He used much Motorway, did not exceed the legal speed-limit, and averaged 56.9 m.p.h. overall, a running-time average of 64.8 m.p.h. His first 700 miles were covered in a running time of just under eleven hours. In 1938 I drove a 4¼-litre Bentley from London to Scotland (Motor Sport, August 1938), up the then narrow and lorry-infested A1, covering just over 700 miles at an overall average speed of 46 m.p.h. and a running-time average of 50.5 m.p.h. Our stops were of a few minutes less duration than those made by Mr. Sedgwick up to his 700-mile point, but our running time was 11 hr. 53 min., although there was no open-road speed-limit to observe. So British roads are becoming faster. . . . It is interesting that over 1,016¼ miles the 8-litre Bentley gave 10.2 m.p.g., the 4¼-litre nearly 17½ m.p.g. for our out-and-home journey of 1,585 miles, and that whereas the older Bentley needed 3¾ gallons of oil, the 1938 Bentley used only ten pints.

I was also interested to note that after Mr. Sedgwick had lost his cap on the Severn Bridge and had found his spare head-gear too loose for security he borrowed his passenger’s spare flying helmet. For years I have worn a flying helmet (bought years ago at the shop of “Uncle” Lewis in Carburton Street, well-known to pre-war racing drivers) even in such pedestrian cars as a 1924 Calthorpe and Brighton Run veterans. I was afraid this might seem like affectation, so I am glad that no less a person than the Bentley DC President has confirmed that this is about the only secure head-covering to wear in an open car. Apart from which, a flying helmet keeps the ears warm and can muffle noises from old engines which one may not wish to hear — W. B.

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