NDR - Vintage Bentley Specialist

The Bentley Black Train

Artist Terence Cuneo captured the heart of Bentley admirers and enthusiasts across the world with his painting "The Blue Train"
Beautifully detailed, although, as it turned out, historically inaccurate, it is art which depicts another form of art - that of the coachbuilder, which in this case was Gurney Nutting. The famous Bentley is as breath-taking today as it was in 1930.
The story of the Blue Train Bentley, owned by Bentley chairman Woolf Barnato, is a well told adventure which need not be covered in this text and was the inspiration for the Bentley you see here. The Black Train.
So captivated by the whole story, one dedicated vintage enthusiast who raced Bentleys decided to buy an original Cricklewood car and turn it into his bespoke version for touring.
The Black Train left Cricklewood in 1931 fitted with the vey disappointing Ricardo 4 Litre engine. It was very soon realised that the accountants, who were running the company, had decided upon the fitment of this engine to the wonderful Bentley 8 Litre chassis and had got their performance figures woefully wrong. It wasn't a Bentley engine and it wasn't up to the job.
Fortunately we can thank Bentley engineers of the period Mack Mckenzie and Ernie Bowler who rapidly became specialists in removing the Ricardo engine and fitting proper Bentley six cylinder engines. In 1936 out went the 4 Litre engine and a 6 1/2 Litre unit was duly installed. This is the engine which powers the Black Train today.
The coachwork was replaced as time went on but in 1993 our enthusiast went the whole way with the Blue Train story stirring his soul. The significant difference was that he wanted a convertible and so the finest coachbuilders were employed to carry out his wishes and to retain those beautiful Gurney Nutting lines.
The engine was completely rebuilt with Phoenix crankshaft and rods and for good measure fitted with an 8 Litre cylinder block. All this work carried out at huge expense and almost thirty years later that workmanship shows and this splendid vintage Bentley has an almost unique magic of looking equally attractive with the hood up or folded.
The onlooker who see this Bentley coming toward them is greeted by that huge frontal area topped by the winged B on the radiator with the driver sitting some 8 feet distant. It is visually striking and aurally soul stirring.
The only match for the presence of the Black Train is the torque which the 8 litre engine provides, being capable of being placed in top gear at 5 miles per hour and taken up to the legal limit and back with never a gearchange.
With continuous history from new this is a Cricklewood Bentley through and through.