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Techno Classica 2015: Blue Train Bentley celebrates 85th birthday

Published 20 April 2015

The legendary Speed Six Bentley known as The ‘Blue Train’ was a big draw at this year’s Techno Classica show in Essen, Germany.

The nickname ‘Blue Train’ stems from 1930, when Captain Woolf Barnato, chairman of Bentley Motors, accepted a wager that he could be at his club in London before the 'blue train' reached Calais.

On the day of the race, he finished his drink in the bar at the Carlton hotel when he heard the train had departed at 17.54.

He had arranged for fuel stations to remain open through the night in Aix-En-Provence and Lyon, and a tanker lorry in Auxerre, and despite a puncture near Paris, he reached Boulogne with an hour to spare.

He arrived at the Conservative Club in St James, London for a celebratory drink having passed the clock at Victoria Railway Station at 15.30 the next day - four minutes before the train was due to arrive in Calais, having averaged 43.43mph driving on pre-motorway roads.

He won the £100 wager, although the Automotive Club de France attempted to fine him £200 for an un-authorised race in France.

The Speed Six evolved in 1929 as a racing version of the 6½ Litre, introduced in 1926. The first car raced as No 1 at Le Mans in 1929 where it won, and returned as ‘Old No 1’ to win again in 1930.

A total of 182 Speed Sixes were built between 1929 – 1930 with a variety of body styles and types from several coachbuilders.

Speed Six Chassis No HM 2855 was delivered to Bentley Chairman Woolf Barnato by Coachbuilder Gurney Nutting in May 1930.

Barnato had many Bentleys personally commissioned to suit his requirements, all were bespoke, ‘one off’ vehicles .

 

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