The “Best” Bentleys That Made The Legend Coming To Hampton Court Concours Of Elegance To Mark Centenary
The latest of the many homages to Bentley’s remarkable centenary milestone this year has been confirmed. And it’s a highly impressive addition, as an array of up to 15 of the very cars that established the marque’s legend over the 100 years, from on and off the race track, will be on display at this year’s Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace in London this September. The iconic examples will range from the first Bentley to race at Le Mans, a 1923 3 Liter, and the Speed Six “Old Number One” which won Le Mans in 1929 and ’30, through to Her Majesty The Queen’s State Limousine.
Bentley’s racing legend began in earnest with the 3 Liter machine, when one was privately entered in the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1923, and which therefore started the marque’s storied association with the famous endurance race. Founder WO Bentley attended the 1923 Le Mans only at the last minute, convinced the race was “crazy”, yet watched the 3 Liter set a lap record and finish fourth overall, hindered only by a hole in the petrol tank. And this very 3 Liter will be coming to Hampton Court’s Concours of Elegance, which takes place on September 6 to 8. It will be joined at Concours of Elegance by the Speed Six “Old Number One” that made Le Mans history by winning the race back-to-back in 1929 and ’30. There also will be the Speed Six “Old Number Three” that raced at Le Mans in 1930, which was running in the top two before leaving the track at the Pontlieue Hairpin.
Alongside the iconic racers at the show, there will be the Bentley 4.5 Liter Blower No.1 which helped establish Bentley’s reputation for innovation in the pursuit of speed. It will be accompanied also by two later “Blowers”, including the most original in existence, the No.2 car raced by the revered Tim Birkin at Le Mans in 1930. In addition, the pre-event “Tour of Norfolk” will pay homage to Birkin with a visit to his final resting place. While the coachbuilt Bentley Speed Six Gurney Nutting fabled to have been used by another notable “Bentley Boy”, Woolf Barnato, in outrunning Le Train Bleu between St Raphael and Calais, will also be on display at Concours of Elegance. And it will be joined at the event by another rare coachbuilt Bentley, the completely unique 4 ¼ Liter Cabriolet by Antem.
Visitors will also get to see the Bentley State Limousine, Her Majesty The Queen’s official car and one of only two Bentley State Limousines that exist. It was presented in 2002–The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year–and was based on the Arnage R plus it features a completely bespoke body and interior. “We couldn’t let the Centenary of Bentley pass without doing something special,” said Concours of Elegance director Andrew Evans. “And in the truest expression of what Concours of Elegance is about, we wanted only the best Bentleys, so what we’ll be displaying is a collection of the most famous, most important and most influential Bentley models ever. Between them, they’ve established Bentley’s reputation for craftsmanship, speed and innovation. There’s no better way to celebrate one of Britain’s finest marques.”
Images courtesy of Concours of Elegance