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Jan 9, 2015
Category: General
Posted by: pat
Jan 9, 2015
Category: General
Posted by: pat
Dec 31, 2014
Category: General
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Derby becomes a supermodel

Invited to appear on the RREC stand at the Classic Motor Show last November, the Sedanca lined up proudly between a mint Silver Dawn and Bentley engineering director Uli Eichhorn's 1960 S2. This, and its Silver Cloud II sister, was the first to use the Rolls V8, which has now been in production for 52 years. Next to it was the new Mulsanne, which uses recognisably the same engine. With 505 turbo-charged horses it is now three times as powerful, yet rather less thirsty.Derby becomes a supermodel

Most of the exhibits seemed to arrive on trailers and in trucks on set-up day, but Pearl and I had a pleasant run up to Birmingham, gave the Sedanca a quick clean, and drove it on to the stand. The RREC quite rightly believes in letting the public look at the cars in close detail, unlike some clubs which hide their treasures behind barriers. The stand is constantly manned by an RREC team to ensure that no car gets pawed or damaged. Yet at some stage during the three-day show, despite that careful supervision, some pathetic person got a hand to the Sedanca's dash and stole the cigar lighter. RREC chairman, Tony James, who is also the club's spares expert was mortified. It took him just three days to find and post me a correct 1937 replacement.

Leaving the NEC after the show closed, I couldn't make the headlights come on. It was going to be a hairy drive home down the crowded Sunday evening M40, but David Evans nobly agreed to run ahead of me in his faithful Citroen GSA and, helped by the Bentley's big centre foglight, we got home safely. Paul Brown at A&S Engineering traced the problem to a faulty dip-switch that, after 73 years' operation, was breaking the circuit in both positions. He sourced a new one, and also replaced free of charge the Calorstat – the thermostatic device that adjusts the radiator shutters – because the one supplied to him last year had turned out to be faulty.

Then I got an e-mail from Darren Day, who is senior member of the Bentley Motors design staff. Like most of the people responsible for today's Bentleys, Darren is a true car nut, steeped in the marque's history and heritage. His personal collection of 1:43-scale Bentleys numbers more than 120 superbly accurate models, from early vintage through the Derby and Crewe lines to the latest types that he has helped to design.

Bentley is determined that anything bearing its name shall be of appropriate quality. So it insists on licensing all commercially sold models of its products, and takes legal action to keep unauthorised editions off the market. Approved diecast Bentley models are made by Minichamps, in resin by Neo and in white metal by Lansdowne. If a really special model is required, with exceptional detail, they call in Pat Land of Model Assemblies, which produces fiendishly accurate miniatures from its rural Sussex base. Pat has just finished a 1:43 replica of the 1956 Graber-bodied S1 convertible that's a personal car of recently Derby becomes a supermodel

retired Bentley Chief Exec Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen.

Darren, in his official capacity, has decided that Bentley's next approved Model Assemblies 1:43 masterpiece should be my 1937 Gurney Nutting Sedanca Coupe which he thinks is perhaps the most elegant Derby Bentley of all. Well, I'm not going to argue with him on that. Did I object to my beloved car being the subject of a highly detailed, top quality, short-run model? Umm, no, not at all.

A meeting was called: the car, me, Darren, Pat Land and his lieutenant Rob Hemsley. Pat and Rob arrived with plan drawings they'd already worked up, and they measured, photographed and filmed the Sedanca's tiniest of details from every angle. This included engine and interior – because an open-bonnet, open-door version of the model may be made – and they even put the car on A&S' ramp to get the underside absolutely correct. The whole process took most of the day. "It's all about getting the key reference points exactly right," said Pat. "The whole car hangs from there".

The master, when completed, will be submitted to Bentley, and I'll get a chance to see it, too. Only after further approval stages will it be put into (very) limited production. It'll be a year before you can buy one, at a cost of several hundred pounds. The queue starts here.

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