Love Thy Neighbours in the VSCC

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Sir,

In your capacity as our keen and everobservant reporter of the vintage motoring scene in the UK, I see that in the November issue you are enquiring why my road-equipped 3/4½-litre vintage Bentley was seen leaving VSCC Prescott on a trailer. A not unreasonable question, to which there are two equally reasonable answers. Prior to driving my family home some 160 miles away, I had already previously arranged to leave it the following Monday morning for 48 hours at the well-known vintage restoration establishment of Nigel Arnold-Forster, for some specialist exhaust work by “Len the Bend”—his highly-skilled pipe manipulator Len Hartley. Like most of our more elegant and well-sited country houses it is not built alongside a railway station. Hence the necessity for the towing car as homeward transportation—not regrettably vintage but a 1954 4-seater open Bentley nevertheless and thus vaguely in keeping, if painted a diabolical colour by the previous owner which will he rectified in due course. This enabled me to return for the 3/4½ two days later when also making some rare Cotswold business calls, and collect it single-handed.

Furthermore, with international oil experts earlier in the year at last realising (why so late?) that world oil reserves are not unlimited and may eventually run dry, clearly one car towing at 12-14 m.p.g. is more appropriate than two doing say 16 + 20 m.p.g., a second being needed anyway with a larger tent and more camping kit than we took to Le Mans. There are of course other minor practical advantages, as for instance Denis Jenkinson working on the troublesome 16-valve sprint AC at Prescott no doubt appreciated, where he too commented on my departure by tow. However, did he conversely notice the same dual-purpose 3/4½-litre a week earlier, at the excellent vintage barbecue party given by Dick Marston and PVT Talbot driver Ian Poison in Essex? I believe he arrived rather late, but it was almost midnight when two very tired but happy children were injected by their parents into sleeping bags in the back of the Bentley, for the night trip home in its normal family tourer role, embracing over 12,500 miles in 2½ years. During this time it was often driven by my “non-vintage” wife (if you get me! Or should I have said “post-PVT”?) including through London traffic with no problems. Thus the car is entirely capable of all forms of motoring open to any vintage tourer and many moderns, albeit performing certain tasks rather more briskly.

Finally, as the third member of the DSJ’s “evil trio” may I add a point or two about the unreported Le Mans Retrospective 45 minute race:

a)As mentioned earlier it WAS supposed to he a race and not a “we managed to arrive” demonstration (I personally would have liked some more effective competition up near the front), and without the UK contingent the Continental entries alone would have made the event pathetic.

b)The continuous hospitality for four days inside and outside the circuit by our French hosts will remain unforgettable plus their marvellous weather.

c)If Anthony Blight had really been keen to enter one of his “more correct” but slower “GO” Talbots (October issue) I feel sure he could have managed it. For my West Country connections gather he started preparing the somewhat faster BGH23 around January, having as he told me in fact heard of this proposed event last December when in Paris, and was practising Le Mans starts across his lawn with BGH well beforehand!

d)Even those who consider a straight-8 GP Bugatti or the V16 BRM on full song to be the greatest sound in motor sport must surely concede a new contender on hearing the V12 Matra. As another vintage Bentley entrant said during the night of the 24-hour race after one went by at 11,000 revs: “that just can’t he the internal combustion engine”.

Kelvedon, Essex. H. A. MORTEN,