BENTLEY TALK WITH JAY LENO (JUST DON’T TELL JAGUAR)
THERE AREN’T MANY PEOPLE with whom I can indulge my borderline obsessive interest in vintage Bentleys, but an invite to share a dining table with Jay Leno (above) pre-Goodwood revealed a man who can talk me into the ground on the subject. He has a 41/2, a Speed Six and an 8-litre saloon with Mu!liner body, but his real love is his twin turbocharged, 8-litrepowered 3-litre chassis. It has 450bhp and torque of a kind he describes not in words, but a series of grunts and whoops.
I can’t begin to explain the incongruity of talking to one of the world’s most famous television stars about Forrest Lycett, Jumbo Goddard and the others who took Bentleys to a new level of performance in the post-war years, but Leno doesn’t just have an abstract love for these cars, he has a real and profoundly deep knowledge of them too.
Slightly embarrassingly given the table talk, the dinner was hosted by Jaguar, which is why I was able also to talk to its design boss Ian Callum. He is the man who has transformed Jaguar’s fuddy-duddy, retrolooking recent past into its exciting, attractive and almost avant-garde present. But he didn’t want to talk about that. Instead all that was on his mind was an epic run through the Scottish Highlands in Rob Walker’s old TT-winning Ferrari 250SWB, as seen elsewhere in this issue. it was better than the Mille Miglia,” he said, proudly showing photos of Stirling’s chariot around the room.