You seem to have missed the most important theme of Alan Padgett’s letter as to the modification of Crewe Bentleys to open sports racing cars.
To its credit The Bentley Drivers’ Club have from January 1st this year altered its ruling on what is a standard vintage Bentley; even outside exhausts, unless originally fitted, are not allowed under this classification and the general emphasis for its trophies are now towards standard cars. The owners of these Crewe Bentleys find that they give them enjoyment in their hobby of motoring sport, within the club, without the need to butcher vintage Bentleys and this is the main reason for the present cars being built.
It may be difficult for the majority of your readers to understand that within the BDC, amongst the competitive element, there exists a fantastic spirit of comradeship, friendship and competitiveness and to be a part of this they are therefore only interested in having their motor sport in a Bentley. To keep this spirit alive they have turned to the Crewe Bentley to make up the numbers necessary for them to hold their own competitions. Several members have vintage Bentleys but use a Crewe Bentley for their competition, and these have come from the scrap heap, not by butchering a present car as you suggest. Many have been rebuilt to a very high degree of engineering skill. Take a good look at Alan Padgett’s car next time you see it; he has built this entirely on his own during his spare time over a period of more than two years. The detailed work and finish is in the tradition of the best vintage car rebuilds. That Padgett and others spend all this energy on this type of car may seem to most people a mystery, but the pleasure obtained from competing in Bentley events is something only they can understand.
Up to about 1960 it was accepted that modifications to vintage cars was reasonable on the grounds that they could then compete on equal terms with the then present sports production cars. However, progress in production sports cars has altered this position and during the past few years nearly everyone considers that vintage cars should remain original and not be modified, perhaps the proof being that original vintage cars fetch higher prices than those modified. It is now regretful that modifications were allowed but at the time it seemed reasonable.
I would agree that it is best to race a standard vintage Bentley but if, because of the cost of vintage Bentleys today, this is not a proposition then the modified Crewe Bentley is the answer as it has proved itself to be ideal for sprints, driving tests, hill-climbs and racing for those who must have a Bentley and are not interested in competition in other formulae of motor sport.
D.S.J. wrote last month in Motor Sport about the 1970 season—”disputes with wranglers and arguments, protests and strikes”.
Thank goodness some of us can still enjoy our motor sport in our own amateur way, even though it may be in a car that W.B. considers “Bogus” or a “Hack-about” or an “Imitation Racer” or “Cut-and-Shot”.
Waltham St. Lawrence.
[Well, that’s one in favour!—Ed.]