Wednesday, 11 July 2012

What are these vehicles?

Spotted about to board the train through the Channel Tunnel and the photos taken through the car window, and so quite blurry.

Does anyone know what sort of cars they are?  They look rather steam punk to me, though I'm not entirely sure what steam punk is.  If you look carefully you can see badges along the side with dates from about 1924 or so. 

They are rather sombre looking.  Is there a military connection?
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  1. Ooh! Nice catch!
    They're Bentleys, of around 1928/29. These are the cars that wiped the floor with all the competition over several years at the Le Mans 24 hour race, the ones Ettore Bugatti dismissed, as they sailed past his pretty, streamlined, feminine cars as "les camions les plus rapides du monde."
    In 1924, '27, '28, '29, and '30, the 'Bentley Boys' a team comprised of wealthy playboys and adventurers,dominate the Le Mans races.
    Wolf Barnato, for a hundred pound bet, raced 'The Blue Train' from Cannes to London, and won.

    These cars are the epitome of the last of the roaring twenties. Not so many survive. The car closest is a supercharged 'blower bentley', you can see the supercharger sticking out in front of the engine, they're rare, only fifty were built, for racing, 43 survive. Some are incomplete, in museums, a small handful still race.

  2. One of these cars, with a single-seater, slightly more streamlined body, set a lap speed of 137.6 mph at Brooklands back in about 1930.
    The same car recently sold at auction for £4.5 million.
    The two you pictured, if the pics are from the first week in July, were almost certainly on their way to the Le Mans Classic, (6th to 8th july).
    That's two cars, worth a couple of million each if they're genuine, a million or so each if they're replicas.
    I know an old guy who has one. Or maybe I should say knew, as I've not seen him in the pub for a couple of years. A tiny little man, 85 years old, in a big beast of a car. On a summer evening, he'd roll into the pub car park and spend a couple of hours sipping a pint and telling stories, oh my, he was still sea-kayaking around the Isle of Skye at eighty!
    His other car was a tiny daihatsu camper van, but the bentley was the love of his life. Women had come and gone, the Bentley never cheated on him, he said.

  3. Thank you! I thought you'd know. It was mid afternoon on 8th July in Calais getting ready to board the train, so presumably they were on their way back to England after Le Mans.

    I didn't even notice the supercharger, and if I had I would have thought it was a gun.

  4. Definitely Bentleys. My brother had one at his wedding. His mate done them up, alongside Rolls Royces for a living. Bit pricey to run today. Bentley started making cars in a small garage at the side of Marleybone Station you know. He's dead now, so don't knock.

  5. UW 7771, Like most automobile manufacturers of the day, Bentley did not build the whole car rather they produced a rolling chassis, all the mechanical parts, the bonnet etc in place, but no body. Four and a half litre chassis, no KL3589, went to coachbuilder Harrisons, to be fitted with a saloon body in late 1929. The completed car was delivered in january 1930 to a Mrs M Beit, and registered as UW 7771. However, later in its life, the saloon body was replaced by a Vanden Plas four seater open tourer body, of the style that the racing bentleys of the glory days wore.
    In 1946, the car was raced by Archie Butterworth, (who was a racing car designer, and aero-engineer), it's also likely that this was when the original engine was changed. The registration was changed too, to KYR 31. (the original engine was KL3591, it was changed for NT3146, interestingly, the original engine ended up in the car which started out with engine NT3144)
    Later, it seems the car was owned by american owner, the late Everett Dickinson, who raced Bentleys back in the late twenties. Mr Dickinson bought it when he was 85, and was, apparently, still driving it after his one hundredth birthday. In 2003, photographed in Connecticut, it had not yet acquired the supercharger.
    Looks as though it's currently based in the U.S.A.

    Nice to see it's still having adventures.

    My brief research isn't to be taken as definitive, it's the best I could do in an hour or so. My pal Anthony would probably tell you all about it. He's uncanny in his knowledge of vintage racing cars!

    1. Thank you, soubriquet. Your brief research is more than adequate, thank you.

      I wonder if it's on its way back to the USA. A long way but I suppose if you can afford a car like that, you can afford to transport it around the world.

  6. Hey!
    I don't know anything about cars but I would have been pleased to see them too.
    Also, I love your photo from an earlier post showing the field of rape.
    I think those yellow fields are just beautiful in England. They must look good wherever they are grown, I have only seen them in England.

  7. I tried to find a price on these. The only ones I found running were all just a tad under a million $US. And none of them had a blower. So these are pretty nice cars you happened to catch. I'm not sure I would drive a million dollar car down the road like these guys. :) :)

    1. Owners of such take them to shows during the summer. Gatherings of vintage vehicles, spruced up and shining abound during the summer, if it ever arrives. Round here a Bentley or Bugati or two often appear when the sun shines. Rich folks not far away.

    2. Even better, I've ridden in one!

      And seen them racing.
      'Awesome' is inadequate as a description.

  8. We shared a P&O ferry today with UW 7771, the driver said he had to leave his friend behind with a "collapsed Cylinder"

    1. They must cross frequently. It was only slightly over 3 weeks ago I saw them.

    2. 2014 - UW 7771 exists and is still driving! Was seen in Italy last week.

    3. Seen in the Westbound services on the A26 in France on June 28th in pouring rain.

  9. UW 7771 exists and is still driving! Was seen in London, Golders Green to A406 westbound today.


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