NATURALLY, there is always a strong incentive to try any car which can lay claim to a performance which is quite sensational irrespec tive of make or type. However, the fascination c f such performance apart, the fact remains that they can and do seriously distort the perspective of the average enthusiast who has to reluctantly admit that he vill be unlikely ever to have such a car in the home garage. As an antidote to such maladjustment of one’s outlook it is a very gOod thing to consider an car which professes to be just •a good example of its type, without claiming to trespass into the performance preserves of more potent marques or faster models of its own particular family. Such cars are of equally absorbing appeal to in tell ige ii t enthusiasts. Consequently, we were very pleased when Peter Clark invited us to take away and try his latest trials car, in the form of a late model ” Blue Label ” 3-litre Bentley, particularly as, in spite of the extremely large following still enjoyed by the oldschool Bentley, personal experience of it had, up to then, been influenced by vastly enjoyable, but undoubtedly distorting, association with RobertsonRoger’s blower 4i-litre and Forrest Lycett’s incredible 8-litre. So, when Peter Clark said ” she’s ‘rather good, as ‘ Blue Labels ‘ go,” and told us what she has cost him (which is much, much more than the i25 which many people think to be the total desirable expenditure on any vintage motor, without representing a sum that in any way puts this car on a price-equality with modern sports-cars) we realised that here was •a unique opportunity to discover just what a sound but not abnormal 3-litre Bentley can do. Albeit, in matters of layout and equipment, Peter’s car is distinct ly What she actually represents is a very late series ” Blue Label,” vintage 1928-9, with the original fabric saloon body replaced by cutabout sports two-seater carriage work from a 1928 f.w.d. Tracta, after Marcus Chambers had cut the chassis ruthlessly to a wheelbase of just over 9 ft. Incidentally, Chambers has been responsible for all the Work Of conversion and must be proud of a goipI j,ib (-.4 not entirely ” blue-print ” work. Chambers commenced work on his own account in 1937, shared I,e Mans honours with the H.R.G. and Peter Clark last year, and you will ROW find him conducting .a Bentley business at Runeton, Chichester, Sussex. Peter Clark used to run a 12/50 Alvis in trials and Marcus Chambers had a rather unusual push-rod 11-litre Alfa before his first Bentley. Returning to the car under review, she has .a number of 44-litre features—engine bearers, steering column adjuncts, etc.—by reason of her comparative youth and she has a 4.2 to 1 rear axle ratio and the wide ratio B-type gearbox. As the car is intended for a trials career, which has already opened with notable success, she has a 30 gallon rear tank aft of the single squab seat, two 6 v. batteries, wired in series, and a tool kit behind that, and then, actually entirely behind the axle, the two spare wheels, mounted almost horizontally. This weight distribution seeks to defeat spin on slime and actually seems to make steering trifle vague on occasions and to suggest liberties at the tail-end if a slide does develop, characteristics which Bentley controllability very nearly, but not entirely, negatives. For trials 6.50″ x20″ rear tyres go on, but for road work 6.75″ x3:” tyres keep the car from feeling in any way under-geared. The seats are -very comfortable, but it is desirable that the driver and passenger shall be genuinely fond of one another, as the body is so narrow that you sit close of necessity and not desire. The gear-lever pokes through a hole in the scuttle side and is beautifully positioned, and the outside hand-brake is ideally placed, well clear of the body. Two slight scuttle cowls and a forward-placed screen keep the cockpit notably warm, save for up draught round the driver’s legs. The accelerator is naturally central, and has a nice action. The clutch pedal is rather near it and the brake pedal high set and some way off, but if you can drive this class of car you do not fret over such matters as pedal location. The facia is nicely laid out and is as follows, front left to right • screen wiper plug; Bentley lamp control and ammeter ; fuel pump tumbler switch ; horn push ; dash lamp ; switch panel below with separate headlamp push-pull controls and two mag. switches ; pump-like starter knob ; oil gauge below ; A.T. de luxe 100 m.p.h. speedometer ; Jaeger tours minutes rev.counter :(reading to 4,000 r.p.m.) ; choke control. On the centre of the big fourspoke spring wheel are typical ignition and throttle levers. The horn and lamp controls seem rather isolated from the seat of government, but again that is personal criticism. An S.U. pump feeds the two .old-type S.U. carburetters that have replaced the five-jet Smith car buretter. A long bonnet, light wings and a hood of sorts complete the make-up

of this satisfactorily stark motor. Incidentally, the minor controls and switches work beautifully and not like bits of a cheap radio. Our test embraced just a long day’s fast motoring ; a total of exactly 300 miles. In case anyone imagines old Bentleys to be for le sport only, I will emphasise that nothing at all was done, or needed ,doing, in this bard day’s driving. Always the car started instantly with very brief application of the en-richener and would pull away at once. The oil takes some time to heat, whereafter it shows 30 lb. at 75 m.p.h. and varies with engine speed. London traffic emphasised the joy’s of real tautness of brake, steering and. clutch action. Incidentally, this ” Blue Label ” is very docile and with half retard would idle at 25 m.p.h. in top without any fuss, and crawl steadily at 400 r.p.m. in second gear. The steering is light for the type of car, dead accurate, geared turns lock-to-lock and has no castor action. The wheel judders a lot at speed but transmits no trace of road wheel motion. The clutch is fairly heavy but has a truly commendable action and the gearbox needs learning, after which it handles delightfully. All who know the real Bentley will understand that Clark’s car is ” typically good Bentley ” in these respects., The gearshifts are best made without the clutch,

feeling in third going down, or with a double-declutch action if preferred. The third to top change is quite quick, likewise second into third with one clutch movement. The front wings are rather invisible, the off side one because the screen obscures the line of vision and a newcomer feels be has a very wide motor-car in his possession, an impression we have noticed before on big cars of moderate bonnet length and one which the owner, being thoroughly at home behind his own wheel, just cannot understand. The engine did not knock, but retarded ignition slowed its pick-up. From. Staines Bridge we carefully logged a run to Winterborne Abbas, and the average came out at 44.9 m.p.h. We observed every 30 m.p.h. limit to the point of braking hard for the entry and not acclerating away until the derestriction sign was genuinely passed, we waited two minutes at Suningdale at the pleasure of the S.R. and bad snowdrifts from Salisbury onwards made real speed out of the question. Moreover, the car had previously been in our hands for only 15 miles. So this may serve as an indication of what a good 3-litre Bentley can do as a mere means of quick transport from A to B. Much more important to us was the fun to be had from driving it, its essential safeness, and the obvious lack of stress with which it would go places quickly. It cruises anywhere at 70 to 75 m.p.h. and goes up to 80 m.p.h. or 3,000 r.p.m. very easily with a downhill stretch to work it up. The absolute maximum reached was 87 m.p.h. (3,300 r.p.m.) on a downsweep

across Salisbury Plain. Third gear can be held comfortably to 3,000 r.p.m. (61 m.p.h.), Actually, the wheel rather masked both the speedometer and tours minutes dial but at 2,500 r.p.m. (51 m.p.h.) the exhaust note changes from its customary, distinctly loud Bentley rumble to a shattering singlecylinder note and we found it convenient to go into top when this indication was

heard. The same note came in again at about 70 m.p.h. in top and was fitting indication that the car was beginning to really move. Absolute maximum on second is 3,600 r.p.m. (safe revs.) or approximately 40 m.p.h. So easily do the revs, mount that acceleration does not seem very great • until other cars are challenged; when it is obvious that it is ,actually of a quite

high standard. Particularly is this SQ in the lower two ratios, which nevertheless do not seem unduly low. The brakes would be awkward in highheeled shoes, but do not call for abnormal pressure, and are quite adequate, very firm and play no funny tricks, except that the hand-brake appeared to operate on one drum only and was left alone on ice or snow. This latter element spoilt any hill-data we hoped to hand out to you ; even White Sheet was quite unclimbable and our return route via Evershot and Sherbourne had only recently been rendered passable. Meerhay was unconquerable under these conditions. So we contented ourselves with a fast run back to town, One of the most exhilarating runs we have enjoyed for a long time, the engine running at less than 2,300 r.p.m. at 60 m.p.h., the indirect ratios giving the necessary acceleration to this speed when occasion arose, and the big car controllable by mere wrist movement of the wheel. Incidentally, it rides very well indeed and so soft is the suspension that the expected up-and-down motion at low speed is not experienced, while vicious undulations result in the rear axle bottoming audibly. Nevertheless, road-holding is of a very high order and open corners were taken very fast without any tendency to slide and with no tyre noise, save an occasional yelp. The only time that the presence of so much avoirdupois at the extreme stern makes itself known is when the tail slides on abnormally bad corners or surface, when more wheel winding than usual is necessary to correct course, or if the front wheels are locked over hard on a treacherous road. Definitely an old-school motor of this calibre is safe at speed, albeit real speed is vastly more soul-stimulating than in a modern lightweight invariably enclosed carriage ; also much greater skill, more muscular effort even, is essential if the best possible performance is to be commanded. In conclusion, any Bentley will intrigue the inexperienced enthusiast but only a good Bentley will

satisfy the connoisseur. Peter Clark’s particular example is not only a very good example of its type, it is also a reliable means of really quick transport, and it effectively plays with both modern highperformance stuff and trials hills as well. As such it is a most interesting possession, showing what lightening and correctly tuning an old ” Blue Label” 3-litre can bring about. We do not know whether Marcus Chambers can exactly cope with repeat orders, but we know Peter Clark would like us to mention that his telephone number is Chichester 2452.