In his article “Glamorous aberration” (Motor Sport, February 1988) GC has trotted out some well-worn history about blown 41/2-litre Bentleys. But he is less than fair in attributing to the whole production line failures which he thinks he discovered in just one example (GT 8774, which is a much modified machine).
The blown 41/2 was inevitably nose-heavy and this characteristic is bound to be more than usually apparent when the chassis is shortened, as in the case of GT 8774. I can say from experience of driving George Daniel’s lon-wheelbase Birkin blower 41/2 that it is beautifully balanced.
GC goes on to criticize the clutch and gearbox. If the clutch is fierce, there is certainly something wrong with it. It is, I imagine. the outrageously heavy plate-clutch which, whatever else, is beautifully smooth in action. The A & D type Bentley boxes must be among the easiest to operate of all vintage gearboxes; so easy that an experienced driver has no need to use the clutch when changing gear on them. Of course, if GT 8774 has a clutch stop (GC does not say) this will certainly complicate gearchanging if the driver is unaware of it.
Lastly GC complains of heavy steering. Certainly it is necessary to take both hands to any large vintage car except a Bugatti, but if anyone is silly enough to fit the grotesque doughnut tyres of GT 8774 he is bound to be making hard work for himself.
Moral; do not jump to general conclusions from an unrepresentative premise.
Cecil Clutton Ramsey, isle of Man.
Your interesting article about the 41/2-litre Blower Bentleys (Motor Sport, January 1989) does not give credit to Birkin for his single-seater which drew the crowds at Brooklands.
Mr Boddy’s book The History of Brooklands (plate 63) records that it did a flying lap at 137.96mph in 1932, only 6mph less than Cobb’s later lap record in the huge Lion-engined Railton. At the time Birkin’s car seemed to me, as a spectator, the ultimate Brooklands car.
However the car was not reliable, and this seems to have proved WO’s point that his cars were not suitable for blowing, and that his solution to more speed lay in the speed-61/2 engine, which was fast and reliable enough for both Brooklands and Le Mans.
Also your article emphasises how unwieldy the standard blown 41/2 was, unlike the unblown 41/2 and all other unblown WO cars which were a delight to drive. One wonders how long the turbocharged cars, which seem to be all the rage nowadays, will last. Except for short-lived fun, give me the big engine every time.
JB Altham Little Shelford, Cambridge.
Races for places
Messers Ecclestone and Co are missing a fantastic opportunity with their schemes to pre-qualify newcomers to Grand Prix racing at a distant track a week or so before the race, or in a short session early on a Friday morning. Why not do what we do in America and have every entrant qualify for every race ? Copying the way it is done at small oval-track meets, especially sprint-car and stock-car racing on half-mile ovals, would give everyone the same chance.
Friday would be the usual practice for all 40 entrants, with their best qualifying times gridding them into four ten-car heats. These races would be run on the Saturday, two in the morning and two in the afternoon, and be of reasonable distance, say 75-100 miles. The top four finishers in each would go directly to the main Grand Prix, the remaining six to one of two 30-minute semi-mains to be held on Sunday morning, the top two from each semi-main would bring up the rear two rows of the GP on Sunday afternoon.
The advantages are that the spectators would get three full days of Grand Prix racing, there ought to be certain excitement in the heats and semi-mains, dicing for last transfer position to the GP; there would be no favouritism shown because you were last years champ and seeded, or disadvantage because you are a newcomer with a fabulous new car. Furthermore should yo break or crash in in a heat, you have the second chance of making the GP through the semi-main.
All in all, everyone has an equal opportunity to make the Grand Prix, and there are three days of real Grand Prix racing for the spectators.
Douglas Mockett California, USA.
Benova in Belgium
The Benova (Motor Sport, February 1989,page 159) was the successor to the Benjamin (which originally played with rear engines and two-strokes); it was marketed about 1927-29, and used Ruby or Chapius- Dornier engines. I encountered a very pretty (but over-restored) sports two-seater in Belgium a couple of years ago. I believe the manufacturer’s final effort was a straight-eight.
John Willis Wanborough, Surrey.
Bring on the GT’s
I would like to support your excellent backing for a production sorts-car World Championship series. Le Mans has, for years, become an over-commercialised cat-run for exotica that no-one can purchase from any manufacturer, let alone drive “street legal”. I am sure that if we could see standard Testarossa v Countach v Porsche it would attract a large following.
I do, though, think they should be standard models,except perhaps for tyre choice. I say this because once you allow modifications the old “slippery slope” starts, and you end up with the biggest cheque book winning the race. I am sure people would like to see vehicles race in the spec. in which you buy them.
MW Forrest St Helier, Jersey
Your outlined proposals for “Super GT” racing (Cotton On, Motor Sport, February 1989) are excellent. I suggest that you consider whether fuel should be restricted to unleaded pump fuel- in my opinion this might beneifit the motorist as oil companies upgrade their non-lead fuel to 98-octane.
Archibald Jeffrey Kirkudbright, Dumfries
On behalf 35 Jaguar Enthusiasts Club members who regularly travel to WSC events and are dismayed by previous announcements about its future, well done ! We support your proposals.
Kelvin Pengelly Basidon, Essex
Your article Bring back the Grand Tourers (Motor Sport, February 1989) is the most exiting proposition I have come across in motorsport. Please press it home; it makes sense.
Simon Jefferies London.