Vintage Bentleys in Australia -
Limited Book Release.
Bentley Drivers Club of Australia Inc.
BDCA 61st AGM Minutes, 24th September 2017
BDCA & MOTORCLASSICA, 2016
Unfortunately the weather turned for the worse on the Friday and stayed for Saturday and the Sunday morning. It was wet, cold and very windy! The BDCA had organised for a number of WO Bentleys to put on a display on the forecourt, or the 'sandwich', on the Sunday.
The pictures of us tell the story: when we all met in Rathdown Street, Carlton and made the short drive to the Exhibition Building site to set up our cars. The photograph of Tony Johns is particularly telling! Although I live just a block away, I decided to put the roof up on my 3-litre and stay relatively dry; however the other drivers decided to get wet! The intrepid participants were: Tony Johns (3-litre), Barry Batagol (Speed-6) and Roger Cameron driving Phillip Schudmak's 3-4½ litre as Phillip was preoccupied playing with his Delage that was on show inside, he intended to catch up later (when the rain stopped I suspect!), and myself in my 3-litre of course.
Just for the record, Phillip's display/competition car is a 1931 Delage D8S de Villars Roadster, the 'S' standing for sport. Only 99 of this chassis were produced with maybe 42 surviving today. The car originally carried a Martin & King made Australian body but this was 'lost' and replaced by one made in Eltham, Victoria, by Mills & Bilotta to a design of Carrossrie de Villars of Paris, one of the smaller, specialist flamboyant art deco style designers of the time. The 30's were the pinnacle years of custom-made bodybuilding and this car suggests that Australia was up there with the best of them. WF note: Not a Bentley, but not bad just the same!
Well, the rain did eventually stop and the sun came out after lunch, so the cars dried out, my roof was packed away and the crowds came out to look at them. Lifting the bonnet and starting the engine was like insects attracted to a flame. It put the other cars (Porsche 356's included) to shame.
The trophies for the winning cars were awarded on the Sunday afternoon and noteably two stand out:
1. Most importantly, the BDCA club exhibit won the best display outside,
The show was well attended, in spite of the weather, and there were a great variety of cars and motorcycles to see and of course, the trade displays are always worth checking out. There were no Bentleys inside this year, but the marque has had a great run in the past so no complaints.
As the 2018 BDC biannual rally is to be held in Wangaratta, Victoria, the intention is to have an optional display of the rally cars on the 'sandwich' at Motorclassica that year. The BDCA and BDC-Vic are working together to organise this rally and central Victoria was chosen because of its fabulous drives ...and food and wine! More on this rally later.
Report on the 60th AGM of the BDCA
The Committee was asked to consider merging our Club with the BDC Victorian division of the UK club that has been virtually dormant over the past few years. Our decision was to keep our Club as a separate independent entity to retain our primary interest in WO Bentleys.
It is worth noting that in March 1978 the BDC-UK was considering this very issue and we can learn from their experience so as to not allow this WO focus to be lost. Furthermore we congratulate both Wayne & Gary for their initiative and determination to bring the BDC-Victorian division back from its 'near death experience' and we wish them much success. It should be noted that we plan to run a couple of joint events throughout the year.
We would like to note that last week (16th September) was WO's 128th birthday.
Our 2016 highlight was the 1926 Alpine Rally re-run in which we had 13 WO's and one Lancia participate. It represented exactly what this Club is about.
The National BDC Bi-annual Rally was held in Wollongong, it is Victoria's turn in 2018 and we have agreed with BDC-Vic to jointly organize this 2018 rally. We chose Wangaratta as the base due to the excellent driving roads, as you should remember that the second word in our Club name is 'Drivers'. There is also good accommodation and dining available to cope with the considerable number of entries expected. Finally, the NE Victorian location makes it convenient for interstate members from NSW and SA to attend.
Historical Note: The 1st Bentley National Rally was held as the '1969 Golden Jubilee', it was held in Wagga Wagga and was organized by the BDCA. Our members Lyn Miller and Andrew both attended.
Wetheritt Trophy, "Used their WO extensively", awarded to Trevor Montgomery and his 3-4½, proven by the fact that Monty is on the 2 day VSCC Alex Bryce instead of attending the AGM.
Graeme Miller Trophy, "Clubmanship", awarded to Philip Ironside, whilst the BDCA is 60 years old, Phillip has owned his 3-Litre for 66 years. This was presented by Allan Watson and Jon Miller.
Bentley Drivers Club National Rally, Wollongong 2016
All cars arrived for the Sunday evening where we 'ralliers' met for pre-dinner drinks and a generous buffet dinner on the deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Monday, being the first rally day had us driving to Bowral through the rainforest up the Illawarra mountain pass to the Southern Highlands. The larger mass of cars left earlier than our small group (of 3 cars) having decided to leave a little later: Ray and Michelle Delaney drove their Continental GT-Speed, Robyn, my partner, was a keen passenger in Des Dillon's WO and I hitched a ride with Tony and Margaret Reeves in their luxurious Continental S3. Unfortunately at one stage, we 'zigged' instead of 'zagging' and ended up in Kiama (the navigator at the time, i.e. me, was using the directions provided, so I switched to my iPhone 'Maps' and we soon got back on track. Unfortunately we were a bit late for morning tea at Bowral's Bradman Museum, so we decided to go straight to lunch where we beat the rest of the mob and enjoyed a relaxed glass of bubbly at the award winning Centennial Vineyard, our lunch venue.
Before returning to the hotel, we had a private invitation to see a magnificent 'kit home' brought out from England in 1857. The whole of this lovely old home was built in England, and then shipped in sections, in huge packing cases and re-erected here. It seems hard to believe that it took 12 months to get it up from Sydney in bullock wagons, the only means of transport in those days; it was a very costly undertaking. The homestead is made entirely of iron, each wall as thick as four sheets of ordinary wood; each sheet of iron was numbered to enable a skilled tradesman to put it together. This was a type of home very often sent to India at that time.
Tuesday was an easier day with time to clean the cars (and rest, or exercise, or both) in the morning. Before midday, we all drove south in convoy to Illawarra's Regional Airport at Albion Park; where one of Australia's world-renowned Historic Aviation Museums and Aircraft Restoration Centres is located. The visit began with a meet-and-greet in their QANTAS 747 with canapés and drinks; this was followed by lunch (more food) in the main hanger amongst the various aircraft. A tour of the facility followed with access to the cockpits of various modern fighter jets and other aircraft. A 'relaxed' Concours was held while we were distracted eating, drinking and exploring the museum but later we did get to vote for the cars we liked.
That evening we had a free night to meet up with friends for dinner and a chance to enjoy Wollongong's great restaurants. We took a taxi to a local French restaurant where we ate too much and then decided to walk back to the hotel …interestingly and to our amusement, the walk back was shorter and faster than the taxi ride there!
Wednesday was an options day and a list of various attractions was provided; Robyn and I drove a short distance to the Motorlife Auto Museum where I met Tony Edwards ('Lights, Lamps & Lanterns') who taught me how to spin metal. Tony's projects include, amongst other things, the recreation of many different light fittings for our old cars. From there we drove south for lunch (even more food!) to the award winning Crooked River Wines in Gerringong.
Thursday was the final full day rally; it began by assembling the cars at Flagstaff Hill for a media event so that the Lord Mayor of Wollongong could wave us off. The cars and rally were featured in the evening TV news and the local paper the following day. We drove north in convoy along the magnificent Grand Pacific Drive, across the famous Sea Cliff Bridge and then through to the National Park eventually to the Bundeena Bowling Club for lunch (hungry yet?).
We, of the BDC-Vic and BDCA would like to formally thank the Bentley Driver Club (NSW) for putting this fabulous rally together; the efforts by Garrath Will, John Lackey and Barry Ashton must be noted in particular.
Awards at the 2016 AGM
Rob Roy Historic Hill Climb 2015 The Vintage Sports Car Club of Victoria.
Prelude to BDC-WA organized rally to Port Douglas - BDCA lunch at MCG
BDC-WA Rally from Melbourne to Port Douglas
Bentley Drivers Club of Australia, AGM 2015
Melbourne Grand Prix, 2015
1926 Vauxhall 30-98 versus 1929 Bentley 3-litre review
In the centenary of its introduction, we pit Vauxhall's 30-98 – Britain's first 100mph car – against its arch rival, the Bentley 3-litre. With Vauxhall's 30-98 celebrating its centenary, we've bought together two arch rivals. Which is the better car, Laurence Pomeroy's epochal Vauxhall 30-98 or Walter Owen Bentley's legendary 3-litre?
Pomeroy's first 1913 E-type 30-98 was a very different car to Vauxhall's own 1926 OE we've pitted against the Bentley. While Pomeroy had always imagined an overhead valve version of the 30-98, it was another sporting motorist, Major L Ropner, who allegedly inspired the OE. He wrote to the editor of The Autocar moaning that he couldn't buy a road car capable of 100mph over a mile. Vauxhall picked up the gauntlet. It built a polished aluminium two-seater, which in March 1923 was driven by test driver Matt Park on a 100-mph flying lap at Brooklands before delivery. The OE's 115bhp, 4.2-litre, overhead-valve four-cylinder was the engine the 30-98 deserved and press and well-heeled customers loved it. About 601 30-98s were built, of which about 200 are known to survive.
Allan Winn is the director of the Brooklands museum and has owned his late-model 3-litre for more than 20 years and uses it often and enthusiastically. Originally bodied by Freestone and Webb, it is now on its fourth body, a elegant four-seater to Winn's own design, with a fixed centre deck and a lift-up section which accommodates a rear screen. Would these cars have met each other back in the day? Almost certainly, since 30-98s and Bentleys were overwhelmingly purchased by wealthy sporting motorists and often used for racing. After a spectator injury at the Kop hill-climb in 1925, there'd been a ban on speed testing and racing on UK public roads, so private venues such as Brooklands and Shelsley Walsh became Meccas of motorsport. Bentley's 3-litre had gained a good reputation for durability, not to mention sporting success, with a win at the 1924 Le Mans 24 Hours race, but by the time Winn's car rolled off the line at Cricklewood in 1929 (where the Earl of March's grandfather, Freddie, was apprenticed) the company was in financial trouble and had less than two years as an independent entity before it was purchased by Rolls-Royce. Both cars have to be entered from the passenger side to avoid the painful embarrassment of the gear lever or, worse, the brake lever disappearing up your trousers. They also retain their centre throttle position, which isn't quite the problem you'd imagine. As Winn says, "When I climb into this car, it's got a centre throttle, it's never a case of having to remember."
In the Vauxhall (above) you sit close to the thick, wood-rimmed wheel and very upright on unyielding button-back upholstery. It's comfy, but feels “fantastically vintage”. A new set of tyres has transformed the steering weight, but this is still a car you have to surprise into corners and once the front axle has sensed the weight transfer, you'll not be altering course quickly. The Bentley's driving position is by contrast much more laid back and comfortably farther from the wheel, although there's not the same amount of room around the pedals for those with large feet. So while the Bentley's huge front drum brakes are massively superior to the Vauxhall's tiny drum and transmission set-up, it takes much longer to negotiate a size 12 on to the Bentley's brake pedal, which means the difference in stopping distances is not so great. The Bentley's steering is vastly superior to the Vauxhall's system, although it has been fitted with a contemporary 4½-litre steering box. Its light, full of feel and is adjustable even at quite high cornering forces. Disconcertingly, however, the black steering wheel vibrates in your hands, the joints chattering like an old man's knees.
It's a similar story with 0-60mph acceleration, a test negotiated with spirited enthusiasm by both drivers, while yours truly worked the clocks and Garmin satnav. The more powerful Vauxhall should have blitzed the Bentley, but its tricky gear change slowed acceleration, so in the end there was less than 0.8sec between the two. The Bentley, with its more progressive throttle linkage, four-valve configuration and twin carbs, likes to rev more than the Vauxhall. With its slightly suspect carburation through the single aeronautical Zenith unit and abrupt throttle linkage, the Vauxhall didn't feel as useable as the Bentley, but in a top-gear drag race it was the Griffin that pulled easily and gently away from the Bentley wings.
Both are enormously engaging to drive, although the Vauxhall's tricky four-speeder means you are continually striving to get the change right, while the brakes can be a source of concern. The 3-litre belies the reputation of Bentley gearboxes and slots lightly, cleanly and swiftly – with the correct double-declutching, of course. Neither car has its original exhaust but the Bentley, with a back section of copper and a fish-tail end, sounds loud, rude and lovely. The Vauxhall's stainless pipe is too small and it lacks an appropriate boom until you are really on it. Both Vauxhall's Simon Hucknall and Allan Winn have driven the cars long distances and report the bits of the driver's body that give up first. "Your right ankle," reports Hucknall, "together with your right shoulder with all the gear changing. I love the smell of the car though, and the heat through the firewall." "My right buttock," says Winn, who does about 3,500 miles a year. "The seats aren't as padded as they should be. Also on long journeys my ears start to ring with the sound of the trucks, it's like being lightly tapped on the head by a rubber mallet." Both men say the sound of the cars through town centres and tunnels, the sight of them in shop windows and the feeling of motoring in its primeval sense more than compensate. I thoroughly concur, but this is a road test so I have to chose. It is close and very difficult, but the Bentley's delicacy, easy gearbox and better brakes put it ahead of the more powerful and practical Vauxhall, but I'd have happily taken either home.
1929 Bentley 3-litre with four-seat coachwork. Four-cylinder, 2,996cc petrol monobloc engine, with bevel-gear-driven single overhead camshaft and four valves per cylinder, four-speed crash gearbox, rear-wheel drive
ACCELERATION as tested
FUEL ECONOMY touring
Origin the "AUTOMOBILE"
WA National Rally involving the ANZAC 100 year anniversary in Albany.
On Tuesday morning, the 21st October, Robyn and I drove my 1924 3-litre WO Bentley (#668) to the BP Service station at Rockbank and met up with the other cars, this was our initial group:
Our start was a little delayed as Monty's car decided not to re-start, a push didn't coax it much better but a short tow by Phillip fired it up. We drove to our first stop at Bordertown, SA in very warm conditions (about 370C). A cold beer was the reward at the end of this day's run from the heat of the sun, the wind and the engine.
The next morning, our 'convoy' drove towards Adelaide stopping at Talem Bend for fuel and a break. The heat was not as severe (but still hot); the air temperature was a tad cooler and the trip shorter than the day before and our passengers acknowledged the improvement.
We meet up with Brett & Wendy Blackmore, from NSW, and loaded the 9 cars onto the famous Indian-Pacific train after lunch. With them safely tucked in, we met up with the girls for the rest of the afternoon. Boarding was at 6pm and we settled into our new accommodation before enjoying welcome drinks and dinner. We were due to have 2 nights and 1 full day on board. Stops were at Cook (day) and Kalgoorlie (night)' the night viewing of the 'super pit' was challenging, as it was just a big black hole!
After the hot drive to Adelaide, we all relaxed on the train and enjoyed the conviviality, the food and the liquid refreshment. The train arrived at Perth at 9am and we drove our cars off which were only a bit dusty. Monty was particularly happy that his car started OK. Monty and Darryl arranged our accommodation in Perth at the gentlemen's club: the Weld Club. Many thanks for this as it was a superb stay and set a high standard for the rest of the rally.
On Sunday the 26th we drove to Fremantle's Esplanade Hotel and we all met for a cocktail reception and registration at Bather's Beach 'Kidago Arthouse'. This is where Lyn Miller joined us as she flew in after attending the Motorclassica auction in Melbourne.
We were to drive a short distance on rally day 2 (Monday the 27th) to the National Army Museum for a guided tour of this very significant collection of vehicles and exhibits before we set off for Yallingup where we were to stay for 4 nights. This was the main base for the rally drives and the first night was a Vietnam War theme. The drive on Tuesday went through Margaret River and included Nannup & Balingup, great drive, nice towns full of friendly people. Dinner that night was pizza followed by the movie 'Good Morning Vietnam' under the stars.
Of special note was that Glenice Shepherd (WA club) had stocked our rooms with her wines as well as biscuits, nougat, cereals, & bread, bacon, eggs, milk etc 'nobody could go hungry as a result. Wednesday's drive was to her home property & vineyard. Glenice generously opened her beautiful property (words would not do it justice) where we bivouacked until due for lunch at the nearby Aravina Estate (including its car museum).
Brett was having water leaks from his water pump, so early on Thursday morning he removed the bonnet, lights and radiator so that the seal could be replaced. This was all done before the 'free day' drive south through Margaret River to Augusta and Cape Leeuwin to see where the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean. This was the only day where the clouds gathered and it turned cool. All of the other rally days were fine and warm, perfect for driving open-topped old cars.
Friday the 31st was scheduled as a drive to, and stay at, Denmark (Albany being booked out) but our little convoy 'ceased to proceed' as Gary's car developed a fuel leak near Manjimup; this was eventually fixed at a mower dealer's workshop. Gary has yet to live this down! It was a lovely warm day for such distractions but we were late for dinner and the other 'ralliers' ate all of the oysters Kilpatrick before we arrived.
On Saturday the 1st November, Gary drove Lyn Miller, Robyn and myself into Albany so that we could participate in the re-enactment of the departure of the first ANZAC troop convoy exactly 100 years earlier. Although the weather was predicted to be 'ordinary' it was clear, warm and perfect; the scene/event was spectacular. After being at Gallipoli last ANZAC day (the 99th anniversary), this completed the journey for Robyn and myself.
Sunday was a 'free' day in which to check the cars before the journey home across the Nullabor, and to have a rest. We drove into Denmark for fuel, lunch and to see the horse and 'animal' parade to acknowledge their significant sacrifices in WWI. The evening dinner was a WWI theme and was our final event of the rally. The large number of nurses present were there possibly to care for the old soldiers squeezed into old uniforms. We were all presented with a large photo, printed on canvas, of all rally cars and participants, taken at the military museum in Freemantle.
Monday the 3rd saw the 'convoy' head for home, beginning with the drive (about 530 km) to Esperance, it has many miles of the most beautiful beaches with white squeaky sand and jade-blue water. Robyn dunked her feet into the Southern Ocean as she does in all oceans visited for the first time. As usual, the cars attracted attention wherever they went.
Tuesday saw us leave early for Fraser Range Station that was 340km away but first we had a target of reaching Norseman before noon so that we could see the Melbourne Cup run. Monty and I made the dash successfully but the others arrived after the race. We stopped at the pub where we joined the locals in the cup celebrations and downed a few coldies.
The run to Fraser Range was uneventful but I noticed that my steering column was loose and on close inspection it was found that the large nut holding the top bearing had come adrift but it was reassembled OK just before our station tour. The biggest challenge yet was the 570 km run to Border Village (SA border) and into/across the Nullabor as it was HOT, 'damn hot' (as was said in the movie Good Morning Vietnam). I put the roof up which kept the direct sun off us but it had to be in the 40's. The air temperature was hot as was the floor due to the engine/exhaust not being far away. The gear lever was almost too hot to hold. The cars generally ran well, my 3-litre ran about 82-830 as did most others. Darryl had an indicated oil pressure drop so we stopped on the side of the road to clean the pressure relief valve and soon we were on our way again arriving at Border Village just after 6pm local time.
The run across the Nullabor continued as we left early for Ceduna on the 6th. It was still hot and we had 500 km to drive, so we left before breakfast but Darryl had to return with a repeat of his oil pressure problem. Again, we stripped and cleaned the pressure valve. Later, as we happily drove along, my car was literally picked up and moved across the road into the opposite lane for no apparent reason; then almost immediately a big willy-willy blew across the road in front of us and I guess it was its brother that hit us! Luckily there was no oncoming traffic at the time.
Fuel stops were at the Nullabor roadhouse and Nundroo; my car was still running at 820 with no water or oil use and good oil pressure. At this temperature, I ran the electric fan just to improve the airflow over the engine and radiator and it seemed to help as it didn't exceed this temperature. We made short stops to take in the views at the famous Great Australian Bight Marine Park lookout and the Head of Bight Whale Centre, both were memorable and unmissable in spite of the heat. I was amused at a young male visitor at the lookout that ignored the walkways and danger signs along the edges of the cliffs; he had a camera on a stick and walked through the low scrub to the edge, leaned out and took some photos. But little did he know was that he disturbed a black snake (about a metre long), which we photographed but didn't tell him. His lucky day 2 ways: cliff held his weight and the snake didn't catch him.
I had been running on the Vac-tank with no problems but on arrival at Ceduna I was having fuel vapour lock problems at idle so I switched to the fuel pump to park the car and this worked fine. The next day was going to be 440 in Ceduna with strong winds and 410 at Port Lincoln, so we declined to drive and had a relaxed day in the hotel with Gary, Darryl, Monty & Dianna. Phillip, Tony and Christine, David and Adele decided to push on in spite of our recommendations to stay with us.
Monty was still having magneto problems as the right one was not working and the left was not 100% so he played mechanic later in the day (didn't get much cooler however).
The predicted 'dry change' that evening eventuated during the night as welcome rain which cleared by the morning. Our convoy followed Monty's car for the 400km trip to Ceduna as it limped along consuming fuel at a great rate of knots; we eventually stopped at Coffin Bay for a lunch of many very fresh oysters of various types and tempura prawns. Lovely.
We arrived at Port Lincoln to be greeted by our fellow travellers who arrived the previous (hot) day but they still wouldn't admit that it got hot! ('me thinks masochists')
The next stop was Port Augusta as the ferry across from Cowell to Wallaroo had stopped operating, so we had to drive right around Spencer Gulf. This was a comfortable 340 km with stops at Cowell (very pretty town) and Wyalla. On arrival, Monty considered swapping his right magneto for another or alternatively a coil arrangement but it proved too complicated and it was decided to run on the working left one.
Our pub dinner in Port Augusta was interrupted by Gary and Lyn as they made presentations of certificates ('crossed the Nullabor') and medallions to the girls now named as 'NV' (Nullabor virgins). This was totally unexpected and appreciated by all, especially the recipients. From Port August to Adelaide, it was a 300 km run in lovely conditions and good roads but the road trains were breeding as their numbers increased. Some of these would almost blow you off the road while others made little difference.
Gary was having some persistent coolant loss problems (from the water pump housing-to-block flange) and as the 'pepper & salt' water additives were not holding it, he decided to continue as far as comfortable (maybe Bordertown) and then to home but these additives caused overheating problems, so he stopped for assistance in Murray Bridge. The radiator was back-flushed but the water leaking deteriorated, so he decided to truck it home rather than risk any engine damage. This is a great example of the value of proper (RACV) car cover as the cost was fully covered.
For the rest of us our Adelaide accommodation was the same as on the way over, so we were relaxed and prepared. The following day, Tuesday, was a free day so we drove through the hills to the National Car Museum at Birdwood. This should not be missed as its enormous! Deceptively so. Heaps of cars, bikes and memorabilia in a lovely country town setting. Our cars seemed to eat up the great roads getting there and back.
Once again, the forecast was for 340 in Adelaide and 370 at Murray Bridge, so Monty, Darryl and I decided to leave early again on the 430 km drive to Horsham.
We were somewhat concerned about climbing the Adelaide hills but it was cool and we made it (including Monty) in no time at all.
At this time I would like to highlight an observation made by all of us, that as soon as we crossed the border into Victoria, we were hit with multiple signs informing us of the various speed limits, the detection methods and other dubious welcoming info BUT worse was that the roads immediately deteriorated to 'lumpy', repaired potholed tracks that were a disgrace. Our cars were enjoying the SA 'highways' only to be assaulted by our own State's donkey tracks. Where has the road infrastructure money gone in the past few decades?
Then we hit the duplication roadwork 'just before Horsham. At least there will be a reasonable road (if it stands up to the traffic) for some miles but when? Can't rush these things I guess.
Total distance travelled in various conditions, but mostly fine and warm, rarely cool, sometimes (too often) bloody hot on roads that varied but often bone shaking for an old car's suspension, was about 5,800 km.
Considering these testing conditions on both vehicles, drivers and passengers, all went pretty well.
Further details will be in the Newsletter and advised to members by email.