THE SPEI-4:D SIX BI-4.TLEY
EVER since the name of Bentley first became associated with road racing one success after another has fallen to this maique and the old cry that this country is losing prestige abroad has been silenced. The original 3-litre Bentley although extremely successful as a sports car did not appeal sufficiently to the man who desired something which will combine the speed and power of the sports calwith the smooth running and silence of a town carriage. Such an ideal is difficult to obtain and naturally when it is obtained the result is expensive to produce. To the man who wants the best, however, price is not of such vital importance and the connoisseurs, whose number is increasing, will always be prepared to purchase such a car as the 6ilitre Bentley. The most Striking thing about this model is the amazing quality of silence at all speeds. One naturally expects a 6-cylinder to be flexible but there are few which combine flexibility and silence with such an excellent perform ance. When driving a car of this type so smooth is the power and pleasant the running that one is liable
to forget that it is p -opellel by an internal engine. The engine of the 6-cylinder Bentley has, however many interesting and unconventional features not the least of which is the camshaft drive. As silence was one of the things most required, many components which would be inaudible in ordinary cars make themselves noticed when all else is quiet. It was this fact that led to the employment of three coupling rods to drive the camshaft in place of the more usual bevel drive. This drive, which is reminiscent of locomotive practice, is as nearly completely silent as it is possible to get and of course its construction makes any appreciable wear very unlikely. The engine peaks at 3500 r.p.m. at which speed, we are informed, 175 b.h.p. is developed. The maximum speed obtained during our test was 87 m.p.h., but we think it would be quite possible to exceed this -under more favourable conditions as the weather was very cold and it is very difficult, however hard one drives on an ordinary road, to get such a car thoroughly warmed up on a cold day. The steering on the straight at speeds is excellent and no effort is required to hold the car. On corners however, the considerable weight and size of the car becomes evident and although the . cornering is very good compared with the ordinary run of cars we feel that it would be easier to handle on corners if the chassis were somewhat lowered. This, however, interfere with other features and as this is not a racing car in the form supplied, but a very fast sports car designed for normal use, the present arrangement is undoubtedly a better compromise. We are informed that a larger steering wheel will be fitted than the one on the car we tested and this would be an improvement as a certain amount of effort is required when negotiating sharp corners and the extra leverage would reduce this. Naturally on a car with a performance of this sort one expects good brakes and we were not disappointed. They are operated by a vacuum servo system and are extremely light without being in the least fierce. The braking is so effortless that it is only when comparing speeds by means of the instruments that one realizes how amazingly quickly and safely the car may be brought to a crawl from really high speed. The stopping distance from 40 m.p.h. was 75 feet, this being accomplished without any appreciable effort and could probably be lessened in an emergency. The gear change is an improvement on any previous model of this make which we have tried and is very simple and the operation very light. The gears themselves are as as one would
as one expect in a car of this price and class. The ratios are 11.9, 6.45, 4.8, and 3.53 to 1. When feeling lazy, one can regard the car as being
single geared as its top gear performance covers such a large range that it is only when requiring extra acceleration, or speed on a long hill, that one uses the gear box ; it is then that one realises the fact that it is certainly a car with two personalities, which can be a flexible and silent towncarriage or a fierce distance will.
devouring machine at will. From a crawl of 10 m.p.h. 50 m.p.h. could be reached in under 14 seconds on third gear which will serve to give some idea of the averages that can be put up on such a car. The body is very comfortable as far as the front seats are concerned and there is no doubt that an extremely big mileage in the day could be accomplished without undue fatigue, this being a feature where the big car certainly scores over a lighter vehicle. The rear seats however, suffer from the prevailing trouble of being rather high, although well sprung and with plenty of room. It is, of course, extremely diffi: cult to remedy this without some freak design of body which would spoil the lines, and as so many owners use the rear seat largely for luggage this is not an vitally important point. Another point where this car shows its suitability for varying conditions is the fact that the springs are absolutely satisfactory at high speeds without being in the least harsh at low speeds on an indifferent surface. With a car of this class any criticism is bound to be purely relative as the standard is so extremely high that minor points come in for complaint which in a lesser priced car would be
cited as something extremely good. In short, it is a car for the man who wants something really good and is prepared to pay for it.
Matters of moment, February 1989
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