Now MotorMartin loves a bit of classic motoring heritage and if that includes news regarding a classic Bentley then life is good. So it was with considerable interest that the following information was read and re-read with a growing sense of admiration for the car and those that raced it building each time. What we have here then is Bentley Motors’ first works entry Le Mans 24hr car which, we are informed, will be playing a starring role at the London Classic Car Show this February. Beautiful isn’t it.
This incredibly important piece of Bentley’s motorsport history will be making a public appearance at the London Classic Car Show, where Georgina Riley will be taking the wheel. Georgina, MotorMartin has been informed, is a member of the Bentley Belles racing team – a four-strong all-female historic racing team that has competed in the likes of the Mille Miglia, the Le Mans Classic and the Benjafield’s 24 hours race in Portimao.
The London Classic Car Show is a rare opportunity to see many famous, beautiful and iconic cars in one place. Not only are the cars on display, they are also fired up and driven, giving crowds the chance to see, hear and smell them on the move. It is this aspect of the show that is certainly a draw for those with Castrol R running through their veins.
William Medcalf Vintage Bentley has looked after the Bentley 3 Litre Team Car for the last 14 years, having given it a complete and historically sympathetic restoration in 2001, and fully rebuilding it again in the last couple of years. The car remains remarkably original, and William Medcalf preserved as much of that as possible while working on it. From the pictures alone, it is clear that the quality of restoration work has been quite something.
Quite remarkably, the car retains its original Vanden Plas four-seater body, and it was fitted with a lower, more aerodynamic windscreen than was standard, in a bid to improve its speed. It also came with a large, 25-gallon fuel tank, stiffened suspension and an engine that was uprated to ‘Supersports’ specification.
History books tells us that the car raced in the 1925 running of the Le Mans 24hr race, although unfortunately failed to finish, retiring on lap 19. A last-minute rule change meant that cars had to run with their hood up for the first 20 laps, which affected their fuel efficiency. Despite leading the race from the off, Number 10 inevitably ran out of fuel dashing W.O. Bentley’s hopes.
Herbert Kensington Moir and Dudley Benjafield, the founder of the British Racing Drivers’ Club and winner of the 1927 Le Mans 24hr race, were the Bentley Motors Works drivers for the race. Brave and talented individuals one and all.
Bentley shared with MotorMartin what has happened to the car since that 1925 race and it makes for fascinating reading. After Le Mans, MH7580 was driven hard as a company demonstrator before being sold into private hands. The car has always been in active service and in the 1970s completed over 1000 miles in a day just to prove her stripes. It was also named ‘Car of the Show’ at the Bentley Drivers’ Club Concours at Hatfield House in 2005. Even more amazingly, in 2013 MH7580 was driven by William Medcalf and Paul Carter non-stop for 24 hours at the Portimao race circuit, covering over 1400 miles, in preparation for the inaugural Benjafield’s 24 hour race that took place the following year.
This year it will be making an exciting return to racing at Le Mans after more than 90 years, when it takes part in the Le Mans Classic, alongside other notable cars of the period. Glorious.
William Medcalf said: “It has been a privilege to work on such an important part of British motorsport history, and it will be fantastic to see it make a rare appearance in front of British crowds. The London Classic Car Show’s special setup means that attendees will not only be able to see this car up close, but watch it on the move as well.” MotorMartin salutes you Sir, we are so lucky to have dedicated individuals such as William Medcalf to work on such amazing vehicles as this Bentley and it’s only through their dedication that we can still see these magnificent machines running today.
Where will you go?