Having just read of your bewilderment by a reference to W. O. Bentley having been connected with the design of post-war Armstrong Siddeley cars, may I say that this was a well-believed myth in motor industry circles in the Midlands around the 1950 period.
It was known that W.O. had been retained as a consultant by Armstrong Siddeley and everyone then jumped to the conclusion that he was responsible for the Sapphire and particularly for the engine of that car. I cannot remember ever seeing this stated in print and I don’t expect Armstrong’s minded such a rumour circulating and therefore did not attempt to deny it.
When I later came to know W.O. personally I asked him about the design of the Sapphire engine, being interested to know why he had deserted the overhead camshaft layout after so many years of using either the single or double variants. He replied that he had no part in the design of the engine or the car and that he had been retained as a consultant on matters entirely away from motor cars. No more details were volunteered and I did not press the matter further.
Incidentally, W.O. did tell me that before Starting on the design of the post-war Lagonda engine he had a very close look at the vintage 1100 c.c. Arnilcar engine and was very praising indeed over the quality of its engineering. Whatever has happened to the few of these that used to appear at VSCC events? Similarly I believe that Messrs. Lyons and Haynes looked fairly closely at the pre-war Rapier engine when considering the XK In power plant. Now, of course, all the Rapier owners are putting Jaguar rods into their engines to stop them flying to pieces.
Streetly BRIAN MORGAN
(I have heard that Walter Hassan, OBE, also checked on the 3-litre twin-cam Sunbeam drawings when the XKI.to was mooted. -Ed.)
Donald Bastow approached me at the Haynes Publishing Group some three years ago suggesting he should write a book about. W.O. and his designs. We now have a book which is due to be published in April, of some 300 plus pages divided into four parts; The Aero Engines, The Original Bentley Cars Lagonda Pre-World War 2 and Lagonda After World War 2 and Armstrong Siddeley.
Indeed W.O. was involved with an Armstrong Siddeley 3-litre prototype (the Geoffrey Healey test-car had a mocked-up Lancaster body) and all will be revealed soon.
Sparkford TIM PARKER
Group Managing Editor Haynes Publishing Group
(The plot thickens. -Ed.)