Bentley boys, the untold tale

How three future pillars of the automotive industry led a budding young writer astray

Thinking back to those RCA days reminds me of a personal record, one of which I should be ashamed. And I am. Maybe exposing it in print will assuage my guilt.

I had on test one of the first Bentley Mulsanne Turbos. With a huge Garrett turbocharger bolted to the V8, the engine room looked more suited to a destroyer than a limousine, but its 450Ib ft of bulldozer torque demanded to be shown off. So I swished silently up to the RCA and collected some car-mad pals.

Risky move. While demonstrating the car’s huge capabilities I let myself be whipped up by their encouragement. Well, there’s something addictive about the spiralling g-force of a big turbo and on one stretch I left my foot on the throttle for far too long as a couple of tons of British steel fired itself at the horizon. I say horizon; did I mention this was central London? I’m not prepared to confirm peak velocity, but today I’d have been making friends with Norman Stanley Fletcher. (Feeble defence: it was a straight, empty road, M’Iud…)

I’d be happy to share blame with those egging me on, but it might not be politic: all three are now highly respected design mavens who’ve made their automotive mark in Paris, Stuttgart and Coventry…