Silverstone Classic honours legendary Bentley Boy Glen Kidston

24 July, 2015

Running over July 25–26 in the UK, the 25th Anniversary Silverstone Classic has attracted the largest field of pre-war race cars ever assembled — all competing for the inaugural Kidston Trophy, which is named for legendary Bentley Boy and Le Mans–winner Glen Kidston.

A brace of Blower Bentleys in the pits during practice for Le Mans in 1930 / Bentley Motors

Among the 57 competitors will be 12 of the rarest and most valuable Bentleys in the world — a stellar ensemble that will include several Bentley three-litre models, a collection of 4.5-litre racers and a legendary supercharged ‘Blower Bentley’.

Victory at Le Mans — the winning Bentley takes the chequered flag / Bentley Motors

Glen Kidston and Bentley Chairman Woolf Barnato famously won the 1930 Le Mans 24-hour race in the Bentley Speed Six ‘Old Number 1’. This was the second year in succession that the Speed Six had taken the chequered flag, and the fourth year in a row that a Bentley was victorious.

An adventurer and aviator, Glen Kidston was one of the original Bentley Boys. A former lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy, he was famously torpedoed twice in the same morning during World War I.  He later became a submarine commander, but when not at sea he set records as an aviator and motorcycle speed trialist.

Glen Kidston (L) and Woolf Barnato after their famous 1930 Le Mans victory / Bentley Motors

Kidston died less than a year after his Le Mans win when the de Havilland Puss Moth he was flying crashed during a dust storm over the Drakensberg Mountains in Southern Africa. A memorial to him stands at the crash site — an aluminium propeller set in stone designed to warn passing aviators.

Bentleys at Le Mans painting / Bentley Motors

Look out for the next (September) edition of New Zealand Classic Car magazine as we’ll be featuring a gorgeous 1952 Bentley R-Type. Although the R-Type appeared well past the era of the Bentley Boys, this particular example was once owned by Oscar-winning British actor Ronald Colman, and Dinah Sheridan — who starred in that iconic motoring movie, Genevieve — rode in the Bentley as part of the Auckland to Christchurch Rally in 1997.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.

Super Leicht Gullwing

It’s fair to say that nothing much in the classic Mercedes world gets past Mercedes-Benz Club stalwart Garry Boyce so it wasn’t surprising to learn that around 15 years ago he had sniffed out an extremely rare 300SL lightweight Gullwing as well as a 1958 300SL Roadster hiding away in the Waikato. The cars were not for sale but Garry eventually managed to persuade the owner to allow him and his restoration team to take a look at the Roadster. They discovered a very distressed but largely unmolested car. The car was so original that the body had never been off the chassis, meaning most of the parts and fittings were still present and correct, as they had been fitted by the factory.