A Test Run in a 4k-litre. The appeal is there, no matter what the age or type
WHETHER it happens to be their ideal or not, enthusiasts. cannot overlook the satisfaction of a drive in a Bentley of the old school. Recently we were able to cover rather less than 100 miles in a rather unusual 44-litre and definitely the appeal was there. True, this war has made a difference. The car could only be tried over a small mileage and then on a run of sanctioned necessity and, moreover, the purpose for which it was used made necessary the big eightseater utility coachwork that it carried, whereas in ordinary times a lot more petrol and an open-bodied car would have been taken, without question. Nevertheless, it was a Bentley and a 41-1itre at that. By now you have probably guessed that the body was a product of G. E. Wallis and Sons Ltd., of 8, Dimearmon Street, W.C.2, who have been specialising in thus fitting out thoroughbred vintage chassis for war service. The car itself was a 1028-9 41-litre, chassis number F.B.3317, engine number
F.B.3314. To-day it Ca r ries a very practical eight-seater Wallis utility body, although from the shape of the scuttle, the close-up front wings and the valences behind them, open coachwork of a sporting order appears to have been worn in happier times. Say what you will, or won’t, against vintage cars there was solid satisfaction in examining the Bentley. From the driving-seat you look down a shapely grey bonnet with lines Of rivetheads flanking the external hinge, the near-side sidelamp just about visible and the huge plated headlamp on the off-side plainly So. Open the near side after lifting the immensely-rugged triple fasteners and there is revealed much of interest to those who appreciate an engine in which pressings play no part. The huge starter-motor lives within the cast rear engine bearer, the oil-level indicator is an enclosed float, the oil-filler proudly exhibits the openwork ” B ” . . . The water-offtake pipe, with its live brass connections to the block, contains a
thermostat and the four-branch exhaust manifold runs into an inere,lible length of silencer—one rear-seat passenger, at least, appreciated the typical Bentley burble. The high tension leads run in a conduit from the magnetO, which has a bulge in the bonnet to .accommodate the contactbreaker cover and the -arrangements of links from a cross-shaft remind one that twin magnetos are used. On the other side of the engine are the two S.13., type G.5 carburetters feeding into the semiexternal manifold with its two primingtaps. The steering-eolumn is on the most generous lines and it was very good to find an external radiator-cap, hexagon topped for a spanner, but otherwise plain, from which ran supports for the radiator-grille. The rev.-counter drive is from the front of the camshaft and the dynamo, via a fabric coupling, from the rear. Fuel-feed from the 15-gallon rear-tank is by a big autovae, which has a decent filler of its own, and an air-pressure gauge on the fascia and an external pipe-union near the
sober filler-cap pn the tank extension indicate one-time motoring of an order to call for the additional feed. All that, of couraa is quite normal 41-1itre practice so far as general items are concerned, but so satisfying to true believers as to be woithy of mentiou, we feel. Other points, hesides, seemed in keeping with the car. A Bosch horn beneath the bonnet ; a (Trey Hartley mask quite dwarfed by the headlamp behind it ; new Dunlop ” 90 ” 5.25 in. by 21 in. covers, with the exception of One British Bergougnan ; the balance weights on the Rudge wheels, of which the spares lived one either side of the scuttle ; gaitered front-springs ; and spring-steeringwheel. The bonnet gives access to the rear of the bulkhead without !wing unduly lengthy. The grey finish and Bentley front parts blend really well with the unusual fawn body of 2.1-years’-seasoned silver spruce and birch. The car rear wings and short running-boards are retained and the sloping roof and screen are a clever means of both blending curving lines with the inevitable ” squareness ” of a utility body and of casina windresistance. There is no driver’s door, access to the bucket front seats being through the wide near-side door. There is no partition behind these seats, but separate access is given to the remainder of the seats via an identical door just behind the front one. Two more persons sit on a bench seat, Set to the offside to give passage to a four-place rear beret’. l’pholst cry is ‘gain leather and the quality and finish of door-hinges, locks, and bolts, window-catches and similar fittings is in keeping with the care taken with the general construction ; the bodywork is certainly a credit to the house of
The roof consists of fabric over closespaced wooden laths, the tailboard hinges (It 0.5.11 :L11(1 can be locked shut to overcome a 30 m.p.h. speed-limit, and a fabric rollflap with gauze ” window ” closes the end of the body. sliding safety-glass windows run all along the side, those in the front t.batrs wind down and the single-pane 5(1cc ii opens right out on outriggers. The space inside the body is tremendous and as useful as it is impressive. We really feel that in the changed conditions which will exist after the war many private motorists may show a preference for this type of body to the normal saloor. That is too big a subject to enlarge up ‘u here, but certainly these bodies are giving fine out cars a fleN1 lease of justifiable existence tinder present conditiows. Known as the ” Broadmead Utility Vans,” they are made at the Maidstt ate works (telephone reference : Alihey 7333 -Mr. Jaques) and t he In vieta, \Inch we tested is £250, overhauled and with 11(‘W 1yreS. 11:tylw some readers feel we have laboured this utility aspect of the Bentley too much, so let us consider the car on the road. Once in the driving-seat it. becomes almost like an ordinary t!alitre, save for the clearance of the front seats from the body-sides and the slight reduction of visibility, as much dile to the si raight-line screen-frame as the 11 mf-pillars. The driving-seat adjusted fairly close to the wheel, although travel was restricted by the haunt-brake, which is inside the r.h. gear-lever. Retard the ignition, the beautiful little control-lever for which is in the wheel-centre, switch on both magnetos and the engine comes to life on the starter with a deep, soul-inspiring note front the big fantail. The revs. rise rapidly as the light central throttle is depressed and the lorry-like clutch-pedal, Moderately heavy to depress, takes up the drive as if nothing in the world will stall the engine, yet quite gently with only mediocre care. As the carburetters cease to ‘ plop,” the tiny Mixture-control can be I tinted further and further towards ” ‘vetk ” each magneto tested separately. The engine-speed in built-up areas is a Mere 1,000 r.p.m., actually 1,050 on the Jaeger when the speedometer showed ” 30,” or 800 r.p.m. in the Royal parks. In ti dent , how nice to find such unobtrusive ” meters,” the rev.counter readina to 4,000 r.p.m., the speedometer to 120 m.p.h., both beautifully calibrated. Tile gear-change needed a lot of learningnot, surprising when you saw the size of the flywheel and reflected that probably the cluteli-stop could do with adjustment. Starting in first, the lever went straight quickly into second, and then nice .judgment was required to find third, a rapid, rather brutal movement combined with a double-deeluteh, seeming the best of several met tails tried. Thereafter it brutal, rapi41 moyernent with single-clutch aetion taigaged top. The downward, changes were normal doublededutch ;talons, calling for ordinary judgment. That the clutch was up tAi its work is indicated by the little difference noticeable between starting in first or seco nal gear, and the at to get. away in third, uphill, with a full load, without undue slip. On the indirects the gearwhine was considerable, especially in third, and the urge was undoubtedly there. Fuel conservation made a series of tests out of the question, but we reached 3,200 r.p.m. in first and 46 m.p.h. in second gear and accelerated from a steady 10 to 30 m.p.h. in 7.6 sees., with a leimirely change up from button,. to second. It has to be admitted that the engine was not entirely happy towards the upper end of the speed-seale, but there was really little desire to extend it.. At 45 which scented an unnecessarily slow cruising-speed, the engine was turning, over at 1,550 r.p.m., which increased to 1,800 r.p.m. at. 50 m.p.h. Wlien in a hurry 60-65 m.p.h. hecame a very pleasant cruising-speed, the r.p.m. at tla• latter figure being still wily ‘2,150. At this speed the cumhersonie boily was forgotten and one hand stilfleed for steering, t he ail ion tieing very light. Very slight vibration w its felt at the wheel and kick-back only over had goingvery rarely did this latter rein tion Iecome em.essiye and always it died rapiilly. The car rolled less than we expected in, cornering, and when it. did could easily In’ ” caught by pm-posely over-steering. With tavo hefty Canadian soldiers (note, Hitler !) in the rearnaa t seat, and an airman and soldier immediately behind Us, $ome care was necessary, the near-side wheel arch having a teadency to foul the tyre on right-hand lands. Even so. the Bentley got. along in quite unusual style for ut ” utility,” passing a very pot emitlooking m.(;. Ineidentally. eight persons in all were helped on their way.—–no W.A..1..F.s or A.T.S., either ! Incidentally again, not a few people obviously recognised the car as a Bentley, notwithstanding its war-time lines. The highest speed reached was 70 m.p.h. (on the speedometer, which gave a suggestion of accuracy or almost-accuracy), equal to 2,640 r.p.m., and any short straight was good for 60-65 nt.p.h. The body rather magnified chassis-noises that could probably have been largely damped but was not unduly noisy iii itself and was devoid of wind-roar. A very pronounced chafer came from the scuttle at aroutid I ,$U02,200 latent., but vanished at other speeds’. The brakes were adequate except at -,ery high speeds given fairly heavy iwdal. pressure and could doubtless lie adjusted ; there were anti-distortion bands on the front drums. The handbrake had an excellent ratchet and could be used to augnient the foot-brakes, albeit rather too fiereely if carelessly applied. The In WO wits YeRily useful MO titt4 push, on the offside door-pillar below a dipper-switch, eonvenient when once located with the finger. MIMICS were rather notiveable by the front-seat occupants, fart the engine showed a healthy oil-pressure, varying with engine-speed, of 20 in. at -11) m.p.h. to 30 lb./sq. in. at 65 m.p.h., being just over 20 lb. at 50. It was possible to 11111 &WO to 1111(14,41′ 10 m.p.h., or iii a nit It r.p.m. in top, and pull away cleanly and the engine wits not sensitive 141 the ignition advance and retard, although retard seemed to assist what, starting. The woof len fascia, NS jIb 1110 0141, addI’d scuttle above it. carried., from left to right : Cliwk ; tube-type fuel gauge ; below ; rev.-countcr speedometer ; lamp-switches helow ; pullout dash-lamp above ; ammeter and ringtype lanips switch with the typie441 Bentley indicator-window ; starter-push ; magneto-switches and mixture control ; oil-gauge reading to 00 11,./sq. in., :1;141 big air-pressure gauge reading to 5 11).;sq. in. The last-named was disconnceted, and the pump ab-ent, otherwise only the fuelgauge debtitlted. The scuttle stayed absolutely steady, and the radiator fillercap generally so, nor did the admittedly heavy bonnet weave. The car was rattily very pleasant to handle at 60 m.p.h. 41111,11,g-speed. It lacked mirror and nab, ators, these accessories being esliecially missed in traffic when the rear flap was down ; they would be very easy to fit, however. The steering-lock W:1:: (111iI*41V adequate, the action not heavy when manoatvritig, and the turns requite’ I, lock
to lock, were There WILS little castoraction, but no tendency to wander, control being essentially accurate, and hardly any tatty was evident in the connections. Fuel_ consumption was difficult to assess, bat it was better than 10 m.p.g. ; probably 15 m.p.g. driven not too vigorously. This Wallis production is essentially practieal. It was pf issibly to flirg4 t this aspect entirely and enjoy this old-seta/01 _Bentley for its own sake. NI m’o iiS wr need not emphasise the fascination of a camis hit+ possesses space mid arrangement to justify entirely every drop of fuel it consumes and yet which is virtually a vintage sports car, with all that that implies.