We have no time for replica full-size “vintage” cars, for reasons previously expounded. These objections do not normally apply to models, because they cannot be mistaken for a real vintage car and are accepted on their own, restricted merits. Such a model has just been announced by Meynell, Phillips & Co. Ltd. of Burton-on-Trent, restorers of real vintage and veteran cars. They call it their SuperScale model, of a 1929 Le Mans Blower-4½ Bentley. It is almost half full-size, it works, it will carry two children or an adult, it appears to have been carefully thought out, and it has something of the appeal of, and is perhaps even more authentic than, those childrens’ replicas of the 1924 200-Mile Race Alvis cars which Leslie Wilson of Shelsley Walsh fame manufactured many years ago.
To some extent this Meynell Bentley represents a challenge to Antique Automobiles’ miniature G.P. Bugatti. The latter loses out, in our view, because it is a replica of the historic Type 52 replica, although in some ways better made, and is thus in the same category as imitation “vintage” cars. It cannot accommodate a full-size driver on the seat. Against that, the Bentley model has a glass fibre body and the price will probably be about equal to that asked for the Crabbe Bugatti; so far it has been quoted only in kit form, in which form it costs £150 less. One thing is highly probable—that Colin Crabbe will take steps for a race to be staged between his Bugatti model and the Meynell Bentley!
We note that the model Bentley’s transmission is by chain and belt. Some people may think this more appropriate to a model Avon-J.A.P., G.N., Bleriot-Whippet or similar racing cyclecar. Perhaps Messrs. Meynell will later do something on these lines, using a small i.c. power unit? We feel sure W. O. Bentley would confirm that the brakes look more adequate for a cyclecar!
But this half-size blower Bentley should make an amusing childrens’ toy or estate runabout and it is encouraging that its makers seem confident that there are sufficient private estates left, and parents willing to spend £250 on their kids, to make production worthwhile. Anyway, America should lap them up.
The pre-view took place in the London showrooms of H. R. Owen Limited and the specification is as follows:—
Scale: 7:3 (three-sevenths full-size)
Size: Length: 76 in. (6 ft. 4 in.) Height: 24 in. (2 ft. 6 in.)
Track: 28 in. (2 ft. 4 in.) Ground clearance: 5 in.
Width: 30 in. (2 ft. 6 in.) Weight: 120-130 lb. with battery
Made from colour impregnated glassfibre mouldings (colour British Racing Green). The wings and fuel tanks are similarly constructed. The radiator is finished in aluminium “flash” to represent chromium plating. The mouldings are assembled with a chassis frame of steel, on which are mounted the motor and running gear. The interior and seats are glassfibre mouldings upholstered in black. Union Jack and racing numbers transfers are applied to the exterior of the body. Two aero screens are supplied and brown leather straps go over the bonnet. The passenger compartment is textured the same as the original leather covering. The tonneau is the authentic double duck fabric, and is easily removable to obtain access to the battery, motor and transmission. A safety cover, lockable with Dzus locks, is placed between the tonneau and the battery, etc. The seat is 16 in. wide, two inches wider than in a real blower Bentley, it is adjustable for leg room.
Running Gear and Power Unit
A 12-volt electric D.C. motor producing 0.34 b.h.p. drives the rear wheels through a belt and chain final drive. There are two forward speeds and reverse selected through a gear lever. Two further forward speeds are selected by a two-stage accelerator which controls the motor.
This gives standard speeds of 3, 6, 9, and 12 m.p.h. and 3 and 6 m.p.h. in reverse. Where being driven by a child, the gear lever can be locked so that only 3 and 6 m.p.h. speeds are possible. Alternative back axle ratios can be obtained and are easily changed in a matter of minutes. The change over of batteries is facilitated by specially designed connections.
Brakes, Steering and Wheels
Four-wheel-brakes are supplied—the normal expanding shoe type as found in full-size motor cars—and are operated by a footbrake. (Two of these brakes are capable of stopping a moped travelling at 50 m.p.h. with an adult rider.) The handbrake also operates on all four wheels and provides secondary braking system. The whole brake system is fully compensated to allow for uneven wear. The steering incorporates a rack and pinion which gives, for realism and safety, more than the one third turn of the steering wheel from lock-to-lock usually found on other model cars. A steering wheel and column fully adjustable tor rake and length is a standard fitting and this, with adjustable seating positions, enables the car to accommodate two small children or one adult over 6 ft. m height, with a full range of adjustment in between. The wheels are chrome-plated wire wheels with black pneumatic tyres, size 16 in. x 2 in., of the original tread pattern, and they have replica Bentley-type locking rings and dust caps.
Full working head and rear lights are provided, low wattage bulbs being supplied in the headlights as standard. Two horns are fitted. The front and rear of the body and chassis have rubber stops to prevent damage if the car should collide with any object.
The range of the vehicle depends on the capacity of the batteries used—e.g. a 35 amp./hr. battery will give approximately 18 miles (or 1½ hours) of running; and a 75 amp./hr. battery will give approximately 30 miles (or 2½ hours) of running. Prolonged use of the lights will lower this figure.
With modification to the lighting, fitting of reflectors and rear vision mirror, the D. Meynell “Blower” Bentley will comply with the regulations under which it can be licenced to operate on the road. An electrical vehicle driving licence must be held by the driver (this is normally covered by the normal drivers’ licence).
A home battery charger of 5-7 amps output. Spare wheel. Alternative ratios for different speed ranges. Choice of different body colours. Rear view mirror.
Suggested retail price, in quick assembly form, £250.
Meynell, Phillips & Co. Limited, “Crosshayes”, Hoar Cross, Burton-on-Trent.