Fine, sunny weather graced the English Channel on the “Bentley” day at Firle, near Eastbourne. This pleasant hill-climb venue overlooking the fair County of Sussex provides great scope, especially for the larger Bentleys and Lagondas.
First to ascend were the 3-litre cars, the 3-litre Bentley of M. D. Hollis recording a time of 33.89 sec. In the 4 1/2 -litre category Walker and Burton fought for the fastest class time, Walker’s “Bluebell “pouring out exhaust smoke as it went by. J. H. J. Tatham produced a fine original tourer and D. McClure presented his fast alloy-bodied model.
Class C, for 4 1/2 (S), 6 1/2 and 8-litre Bentleys, produced no faster time in spite of J. L. Goddard’s 8 litre engine in 3-litre chassis, a well proportioned car nevertheless, and Elliot’s supercharged 4 1/2 litre. Becker’s vast 6 1/2-litre fixed-head coupe gave a splendid insight into big-car motoring on small-car roads!
The post-1931 Bentleys all made silent unostentatious ascents. Lord Ebury’s special-bodied 3 1/2-litre making light work of it in 32.58 sec. Next followed the “All Comers” classes. In the up-to-1,500 c.c. category the Milton brothers could be seen revving their A30 up the hill in under 40 sec., Averil and Bunty Scott-Moncrieff in the Lotus-M.G. and the original ex-Chapman Austin-Lotus respectively and J. M. Perkins in the pretty Arnott making a very silent uphill journey in 31.69 sec.
Following them were the 1,501 – 2,600 c.c. boys and girls. W. S. Perkins in the Lotus-B.M.W. let no grass grow under his wheels, coming up in 28.95 sec., closely pursued by Betty Haig in her Fraser-Nash, a fraction of a second slower. The 2,601-3,500 c.c. group consisted of four Jaguars and the lone Aston-Martin DB2 of Mrs. Bloxam. Trimble’s C-type stole the show, however, needing only 28.57 sec. to reach the summit, thus realising fastest time of the day for all competitors.
Bentleys and Lagondas again came up in the 3,500 c.c. class. Lord Dunleath rammed a bank on his second run after what appeared to be a front-wheel skid, no damage resulting, however; Walker went up in 29.27 sec., winning the Christopher Tomkinson Trophy for the fastest Bentley. Interesting experiments were conducted by J. Cooke in his Bentley Continental, first on automatic transmission then on manual control, the result being that the manual operation of the gearbox saved nearly two seconds on the climb. So concluded Firle.1956.