(from Motorist´s Illustrated Digest, Dec 1965)
Sporting to a "T"
Archie Vicar drives to Sicily in the new motor carriage from Crewe.
Photos by Douglas Land-Windermere
The Bentley marque conjours images of the driver Richard "Dick" Seaman charging along the Mulsanne Straight at a hundred miles per hour. That he achieved this very respectable pace minus a tyre is a tribute to his Bentley and to his boundless idiocy. Great chap. He is very much missed in motoring circles.
For a while Bentley´s sporting character has been as absent and as lamented as Mr Seaman. The last batches of Bentleys have, to be rather frank, been a little hard to distinguish from their Rolls-Royce stablemates.
The glad tidings are that there now comes a new Bentley, the T-type, which might re-establish Bentley´s athletic credentials. To quote the elegantly handwritten letter from Bentley´s public relations fellow: "The new Bentley T is truly a motor-carriage for the man who likes to conduct his own vehicle and for whom sporting performance is a matter of great interest. The T-type saloon offers peerless acceleration, superb roadholding and ride-quality of the highest standard, coupled with comfortable, supportive seating for the most spirited motoring." Was this true? Upon receipt of this letter we telephoned Bentley to make an appointment to ask if we could gain access to one of their motor cars.
Bentley very kindly offered us a T-type, (finished in Sepulchre Blue over black, only 12,00 miles and as new, one of the finest we´ve seen) to take for a little spin to see how sporting the T really is.
"...besmirch the upholstery..."
We booked the Bentley onto the Silver City flight to le Touquet, feeling that a morbidly blue Bentley probably ought not to mix with the plebeian motorists found on the Townshend Thoresen steam ferry. Furthermore, Mr Land-Windermere is prone to sea sickness and it would have been not a little unpleasant to besmirch the Bentley´s leather upholstery. Off we flew and within a trice the Bentley was purring along on the worst of French roads as if gliding on melted butter. We were able to appreciate the smooth power of the 6,230 cc 8-cylinder engine and could casually dismiss the flocks of white Renaults and Peugeots that, to this day, infest much of France.
The self-levelling independent suspension has made a dramatic difference to the Bentley´s ride when compared with the old S3. It absorbed the bumps and undulations of the French road network and gave me great confidence in pressing on to our lunch in Rennes. The three-speed torque converter transmission struck me as a flexible and robust device, managing shifts at a second´s notice. When it came to decelarating, for example when I saw a good place for a spot of liquid refreshment, the triple-circuit hydraulic servo brakes quickly brought the Bentley to heel. The monococque chassis is another characteristic of the modern sporting saloon. Just such a thing is to be found somewhere behind the leather and wood that covers every available square inch of the Bentley´s interior. Despite the Bentley´s sporting appearance (the low bonnet line and unique Bentley grille help) the car still has many luxuries such as a standard radio, electrically adjustable chairs and air-conditioning. We appreciated this useful feature in the warm weather that prevailed during the test.
"...revealing the vehicle´s speed are...
Passengers are well treated inside the Bentley, but the driver is the centre of attention in this most sporting of gentleman´s carriages. A fine, slim-rimmed steering wheel and a gauge revealing the vehicles´s speed ar