Those 3 - 4.1/2 Bentleys

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Sir,

It may be that the unfortunate experience suffered by the 9 ft.-chassis 3-litre at Mondhery in 1926, in the hands of Wally Hassan, influenced W.O. to install his 4.1/2-litre engine in a considerably longer chassis for Le Mans the following year. The intention in 1926 was to achieve 24 hours at 100 m.p.h. (My Life and My Cars, page 125). The car managed 104 miles in the first hour, driven by Barnato—a most respectable speed for a 3-litre—but later on Hassan lost directional control coming down off the banking, demolished the car, and damaged himself.

Perhaps W.O. thought that his brand new 4.1/2 at Le Mans, on the same sort of power/ weight ratio as the Montlery 3-litre, might enjoy a little more directional stability with a “Long Standard” chassis. It is a hypothesis.

The present-day use smaller diameter rims of out-set springs, with fat tyres, and hydraulic dampers must, however morally reprehensible, give a driver better control at higher power/weight ratios. There are lots of nasty anachronistic things you can do to a nice touring car to make it go round a track more quickly—if you feel you must.

Shawford T. J. Threlfall

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