By a coincidence, having recalled my first acquaintance with a Derby-built Bentley, I received a letter from a long-standing reader congratulating me on the “LE JOG” run I did in 1938 with a 4litre Park Ward drop-head coupe. This gentleman says that in the 1950s he used to drive frequently from Edinburgh to see his mother in Dunnet, Caithness, some 307 miles via Perth and Inverness, when the road from Perth was not much different from pre-war, though better surfaced. Although young, fit, and a practised driver, our correspondent, in a Daimler Conquest, could never match my pre-war times in the Bentley. He remembers his best ever hour’s progress as about 47 miles.
In fact, I was not particularly pleased with my run, regretting that we stopped for breakfast (best hour = 56 miles). Not that it was intended to set a record, being simply part of a roadtest report for MOTOR SPORT. Incidentally, it was not the car’s fault that two tyres wore out in those 702 miles; when, soon afterwards, I saw an announcement which said that in future all Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars would be fitted exclusively with Avons, I wondered whether I had been the last straw in breaking the contract for the rival tyre supplier.
We tried another “LE JOG” jaunt in 1955, when a younger colleague bettered my 1938 time by 29.5 minutes, driving a Bristol 404 over a slightly longer route (best hour= 59.5 miles). Cars (and tyres) had improved of course — before the war the ‘Great North Road’ had no ring-roads round towns like Doncaster. In 1986 Mike Lawrence thought it time to see what a modem car could do and set off in winter in a 6.7-litre Bentley Eight, following ‘my’ route as closely as possible. Of course he took an enormous slice out of my running time, 43 minutes in fact; my only consolation was that he had changed drivers thrice, whereas I had driven all the way. But, as Mike said, probably I had more fun.
I got to know the roads to Scotland fairly well thereafter, once doing Hampshire, Land’s End John O’Groats, Land’s End, Hampshire, London, Oulton Park, Hampshire, London, John O’Groats (in the Bristol), London and Hampshire in eight days. And we took an S-series 4.9 Bentley from London to Edinburgh in 1956 (best hour = 53 miles) and drove back again, scorning sleep. Was it really more fun then? Nice to know, anyway, that our correspondent, Gordon Thomson, still has the Daimler.