27 Oct THE OTHER OTHER BENTLEY BOYS
Late in October FMM was graced with a visit from a mouth-watering gathering of one-make British automobile aristocracy as the 8th International Vintage Bentley Tour of South Africa stopped by for a picnic lunch and tour of the museum. The tour attracted 16 vintage and one ‘Derby’ Bentley, all but four of which came from overseas from as far away as Great Britain and Ireland, Australia and the USA. Examples of practically all of the various models produced during the 1920s/early-’30s took part – 3,0, 3,0/4,5, 4,5, 6,5, Speed 6 and 6,5/8,0 – plus the rare and glamorous 1929 ‘Blower’ Bentley of Shane and Zuzana Houlihan, which was acknowledged as being the pick of this mind-boggling group of iconic automobiles.
Organised by local enthusiasts Dave Alexander, Di Dugmore, Tony and Linda McEwan and Karl Reitz, the tour began on 3 October when all the cars gathered at Umhlanga Rocks in Durban. The road trip then took in Mkuze, Manzini, Drakensburg Champagne Castle Clarens, Kimberley, Graaff Reinet, Shamwari Game Reserve, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Hermanus and Stellenbosch before finishing at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on 24 October, a journey just short of 3 800 kilometres – a grand tour by any standard.
A blisteringly hot and gusty spring day precluded the tour’s planned picnic lunch on the lawn overlooking the museum’s quadrant, the Bentley boys and girls opting for the more shady areas of the FMMs grounds to relax, enjoy their meal and reflect on a wonderful tour that was drawing to a close. Dave Alexander stated in his guide notes, “South Africa is a fantastic place to tour”, and I am sure this year’s international participants will agree.