How a somewhat plain Bentley 8-liter won the biggest prize in collector cardom
In case you hadn’t heard despite near-continuous carpet-bombing coverage all year that included everything short of home mailers, robocalls and candygrams (“Candygram for Mongo!” “Mongo like candy …” kaboom!), this is Bentley’s 100th anniversary. This anniversary is significant to us who like cars because, quite simply, Bentleys are cool. Both the old ones and the new ones. The new ones go over 200 mph, the old ones were going over 100 when most cars were struggling to break 60.
So it should have been no surprise that, among all the celebrations all week at Pebble/Monterey/everywhere else, there should be a few classes of Bentleys. The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance was no exception, with six classes of the things, a total of 55 cars, a quarter of the field, almost all of them green.
Walking down the 18th fairway on dawn patrol there were several Bentleys that you could call striking, some even beautiful, particularly those in the Bentley Centennial Postwar class. I myself liked the 1938 Bentley 4 ¼ liter Pourtout Aerodynamic Coupe from The Keller Collection. It was built to race at Le Mans but had to wait till WWII was well over before it could, then it raced three times in a row, from 1949 to 1951, finishing as high as sixth. But despite looking mighty fine, the car was unrestored, and it would be a big leap to win Pebble with an unrestored car.
The Off Brothers Collection’s 1954 Bentley R-Type Continental H.J. Mulliner Fastback was likewise eyeball-catching, as were several other Bentleys — not to mention the usual assortment of very swoopy Talbots Lago, Delashaye and Bugattis all up and down the 18th fairway. And I went on record as picking Valerie and Aaron Weiss’ 1937 Horch 853 Glaser Sport Cabriolet, which had all the traditional hallmarks of a Pebble winner: long hood, short back half, swoopy fenders, the right amount of chrome, an established Pebble entrant, etc. It was missing the featured marque status, though. My runners-up were the Keller Bentley and Melanie and Richard Lundquist’s 1938 Figoni & Filaschi Talbot Lago Cabriolet.
“The centennial of Bentley may have played a role in this award,” he said. “But the 8 Litre is the ultimate W.O. Bentley era automobile. This is the car that represents Bentley at its finest, and I have been very fortunate to have a car that has this elegance and finish, and that the Pebble Beach Concours feels is worthy.”
He bought the car after it had been four years into a restoration. He only had to get that restoration completed.
“I only had to take six months,” he said.
The Pebble Beach Concours itself seems to be bigger than ever, expanding further down the fairway with space now for this year’s 220 cars.
“This week has become the prime celebration of the automobile,” said Button. “It’s enthusiast-based, it’s organic, it all comes from genuine enthusiasm.”
And on that it will continue. Congratulations, Bentley.