1930 Bentley Speed Six #4 Pilots: W. Barnato, G. Kidston Team: Bentley Motors Ltd Race: 1st GC (S8 class) at Le Mans in 1930 Ixo - LMM 1930 (diecast)
Bentley Speed Six #1 (07/08/17):
Introduced in 1928, the Bentley Speed Six was a more sporting version of the Bentley 6½ Liters. It had an inline-6 cylinders engine of 6597 cm³, 24 valves and SOHC, two carburetors and lighter body work. The racing version of the Speed Six had a shorter wheelbase and an improved engine. With two SU carburetors and a higher compression ratio, power output reached 200 hp. The Speed Six was fast, but just as important, it was reliable. Therefore, the car was a prime candidate for racing that 24 hour race held every year in France.
The 1930 24 Heures du Mans was the first race to have female drivers and German cars. And for Bentley, after three consecutive victories, they were confident. They brought three cars to La Sarthe, all Speed 6s with the big 6.6 engines and short wheelbase (3353 mm). There were also two Blower Cs in the hands of privateers. Bentley’s director Woolf “Babe” Barnato paired with Glen Kidston to drive car #4. Speed Six #4 (chassis #LB2332) was the same car that won in 1929, and was known as “Old Number One“. Only 17 cars started, and up until midnight it was a duel between the Bentleys and Mercedes. But at 1:30am Rudolf Caracciola’s Mercedes-Benz SS was out and Bentley cars were leading 1-2-3-5. After that things settled down and the Speed Six came in first and second places.
This Speed Six #4 is quite important to the history of Bentley, since it was the last of their winning cars. Bentley won at Le Mans five times, in 1924 and than from 1927 to 1930. But in financial trouble, right after the last race they dissolved their racing department. By November 1931 Rolls Royce owned the brand, and the next racing Bentley would only happen in 2003. I wonder what Bentley would be like today if daddy Rolls Royce didn’t frown upon racing…
And about the model. In 1:43 form Ixo did a fairly good job on this clunker. However, there are some issues. The fuel tank, for instance, is too low. And, there are those asymmetric headlights… I only found one photo where the right headlight kind of looked as if it’s covered by a mesh. While this may be true, by the end of the race they had no cover whatsoever. So definitely not an “amazing model” but in the end, nice at least.
I was bothered about those asymmetric headlights, so I did more digging. Since I didn’t find any conclusive answer, yesterday I commented this with that oaf extraordinaire, the Earl of Northumberland. And what do you know, he also knows stuff about old Bentleys. He sent me a link and I found out that at least in 1930, there was a mesh in front of the right hand side headlight. It was a stone guard fitted in front of the Zeiss headlamp. But only on the offside, since it cut down the light considerably in racing conditions.
In the #2 car, you can easily see the stone guard, so it looks like other cars also had it on. Therefor, Ixo’s Speed Six #4 is correct, though the “mesh” they used looks a bit heavy. So mystery solved, courtesy of the Earl.