If you want something, you buy it. Or you can have it made. Depending on the availability of your dream, you will then have to dig deeper or lower. Or very deep.
Bentley and the Bentley Boys
In the days before Bentley became a German prestige brand, Bentley was already a phenomenal brand. An absolute top class brand. A kind of Rolls-Royce with sporty ambitions. Bentley became legendary by the Bentley Boys.
Walter Owen Bentley was a talented technician from a financially very healthy family. WO's motto was “To build a good car, a fast car, the best in class.” Ettore Bugatti saw this differently and reported that Bentley made 'the fastest trucks in the world'. Bentley was more technical than business. Bentley Motors Ltd got into rough weather and WO got on the head of its board of directors. The company was bought and saved by the wealthy heir, investor, playboy and driver of a South African diamond mine consortium, Joel Woolf Barnato (September 27, 1895 - July 27, 1948). Barnato had previously bought a three liter Bentley and had literally fallen in love with that car. He belonged to the group of rich young people who made the nightlife, public roads and circuits unsafe under the name 'the Bentley Boys'.
Bentley and 'Babe' Barnato
Under the inspiring leadership of 'Babe' Barnato, Bentley attached two extra cylinders to the three-liter block. During a test drive with a camouflaged prototype, the Bentley driver met an also camouflaged Rolls-Royce with an equally avid test driver. The men went into battle - on public roads - and the Bentley won only because the hat of the Rolls-Royce pilot blew off. The man dropped out to pick up his hat again. Dissatisfied with the performance of his prototype six-cylinder, it was decided in 1926 to increase the bore of this engine, bringing the total displacement to 6,5 liters.
The Bentley 6.5 was born. However, the extra power was no match for the extra weight. A number of modifications followed in 1928, including the addition of an additional carburettor. The Bentley 6.5 turned into the Speed Six. And that was a success, rewarded with a victory at Le Mans in 1929. The Speed Six engine with four valves per cylinder and an overhead camshaft delivered 140 hp.
The final Speed Six stole Barnato's heart. He had about six of them and used one with a HJ Mulliner bodywork for his daily transport.
Bentley by Petersen
There is more demand than supply in the truly classic Bentley segment. And the market has jumped into that. And where Ruska once made a Bugatti 'replica' based on a Beetle chassis, Bob Petersen does the trick double-thick by making perfect Bentley replicas based on the chassis of less sought-after Bentleys and Rolls-Royces. Most of the specimens you now encounter in the wild are such made-to-order replicas, recreations.
But what should we do with those recreations?
I think we can respect it. After all, at that time it was the case that the car manufacturer sold the rolling part to the customer and the customer had a body builder set up a bodywork. And there has been a trend for years to strip 'boring' Rolls-Royces and Bentleys of their bodywork and then, with the authentic chassis and technology as a basis, to rebuild a 'more exciting' one. It all goes considerably further than putting a polyester Bugattoo bar on a Beetle chassis. Because all work is just as lovingly crafted and done with the most old-fashioned craftsmanship. Such a recreation is simply a dream that is not a deception. And expensive.
Still, there is a market worldwide for these pieces of tribute. Firstly, they are 'just real' and secondly, owners of an original copy often think it is a shame to erase with them. Because that now has its limitations. And not everyone has such a big mind as the British landlord who regularly went shopping with his Blower Bentley. He had lost control of the wheel several times in the bend in front of his estate and, after plowing through the bushes, had stalled against his garden wall.
A befriended AMK reader also has a bunch of new Rolls-Royce eight-cylinder line blocks. So if you want to get started yourself, we would like to put you in touch with Theus. For direct assignments you can of course contact Bob Petersen Engineering in England.