Boys will be (Bentley) boys! 

Joseph Bulmer

Not long ago, I brought a classic 1960s Bentley S3 to the market which involved some light renovation and refurbishment over a few months, but the finished motor car had a sting in its tail, as you will find out.

Bentley Motors was acquired by Rolls Royce in 1931 after the Wall Street Crash and subsequent Great Depression.

Bentley had run into difficulties despite four consecutive Le Mans 24hr wins in 1927/8/9/30.

Thereafter, they became the sporting arm of the more affluent marque.

After World War Two, and keen to exploit the different markets of royalty and racing, the mainstream cars were identical bar the badging and a token price drop for the Bentley.

This continued through the 1950s to the 1990s.

The firm never revealed the power output but simply said ‘sufficient’.

They developed a 6.2 litre V8 from 1959 which was widely thought to produce about 260 bhp. Quite enough to move the heavy old barge along at a pace.

The Silver Cloud Rolls Royce and its sister Bentley S class were all about comfort, style, class and elegance but not necessarily about performance, although the power was certainly there when needed.

It was unseemly to belt around the countryside like those brash Jaguars.

‘Never trust a man in a Jag’ was an oft told warning to many a young gal in the 1960s.

However... back to my Bentley story.

I had called in on Surrey Trimmers to see what magic they could perform on the leather work and on leaving Chertsey, I was about to head over the M3 on the A320 towards Thorpe Park.

A most impatient white Transit Connect van sat on my bumper at every junction until we left the town.

As the road became a dual carriageway and the 40mph limit ended, I moved over but had already prepared and dropped down to third gear on the auto box.

As he screamed alongside, the sheer torque of the Bentley V8 matched his acceleration but without the gear change short comings he experienced.

We level pegged side by side to the very top of the bridge at certainly 70mph when I engaged top gear.

The Bentley had a final thrust forward on him but I felt enough was done and backed off.

Furthermore, I had the task of bringing two tonnes of Crewe’s finest to a slow, given I could see a sharp and blind left bend ahead and I did not know the road.

My adversary had the satisfaction of having ‘beaten’ the old girl as he somehow hung on to the left hander and disappeared from sight with not so much as a touch on his brake lights.

My fun was over and the S3 will certainly have given Mr Transit much to talk about later.

But there was shock mixed with delight on seeing the mobile speed camera set up immediately inside the 30mph zone as I rounded the bend by the entrance to Thorpe Park.

I just managed to get down to the limit on time but there is no chance that the van could have.

I suspect the Bentley will have been much discussed later that day and not all in a positive light.

Smug? Moi? Don’t mess with 1960s classics is the simple message here!