Bentley’s past and present has come together in a triumphant celebration, with H.R. Owen’s famous Jack Barclay Bentley showroom hosting a glamorous welcome home party for Bentley’s first ever Le Mans factory entrant. The car returned to Le Mans for the first time in 91 years at this year’s Le Mans Classic, and H.R. Owen marked the occasion in style.
There was no better location for a welcome home party than Jack Barclay, the oldest and most prestigious Bentley showroom, which sold cars like the Number 10 Bentley back when its doors first opened in 1927.
As many as 19 vintage Bentleys and more than 200 guests turned up to mark the occasion, with the stunning cars parading around Berkeley Square, much as the original Bentley boys did back in the cars’ heyday. The spectacle brought a corner of West London to a triumphant and happy halt for a short period, as the vintage cars roared around the square, with onlookers waving flags and cheering the drivers as they went. The five racing cars then lined up outside the front of Jack Barclay for a triumphant photoshoot, spraying champagne to celebrate a successful trip to Le Mans.
As well as enjoying the sights and sounds of the vintage cars, the guests were entertained by live music, had drinks and canapés and were able to take a look at some of Bentley’s latest models, including the all-new Bentayga SUV. H.R. Owen’s Chauffeur Drive service was also on hand with a selection of cars to provide rides home for those that wanted them.
The Number 10 car was prepared for and raced at this year’s Le Mans Classic by the expert team at William Medcalf Vintage Bentley, who have looked after the car for several years and know it intimately, making them perfectly placed to prepare it for this year’s race.
The William Medcalf Vintage Bentley team’s dedication to authenticity wherever possible meant the 2016 race was approached in the same way as the team did when it last made the trip in 1925. They drove Number 10 down through France, competed and then drove home again in the car, heading to Jack Barclay Bentley after the finish, going via William Medcalf Vintage Bentley’s headquarters in Liss, West Sussex. There, the cars that drove from Le Mans met up with several other vintage Bentleys to form a 12-strong convoy that made the trip to London.
Number 10 had a more successful time at Le Mans in 2016 than it did in its previous race 91 years previously. In 1925, a last-minute change of the rules required the cars to run with their roofs up for the first part of the race. As Number 10 was fitted with a low, slanted windscreen, the top of which didn’t go all the way up to the top, this meant the roof acted as a giant air brake that dramatically increased drag and increased fuel consumption. As a result, the car didn’t make it as far as the team had previously calculated it would, and it ran out of fuel on lap 19. This time around, it managed an indexed finishing position of sixth out of 64 cars in its class, hitting a top speed of 91mph down the Mulsanne Straight in the process.
H.R. Owen’s Marketing Director, Tom King, said: “At H.R. Owen Bentley we are proud to celebrate everything that is great about Bentley’s past and present, and welcoming the Number 10 car back from Le Mans proved a perfect way to honour the brand. It is normally the modern cars that turn heads on Berkeley Square, but tonight the likes of the Bentayga and the Continental GT were able to share the stage with their equivalents from a different era.”
William Medcalf said: “The Number 10 car holds a special place in history, and it was a privilege to be able to take it back to the place where it made its racing debut more than 90 years ago. This year’s race proved much more successful and was an epic experience, which enjoyable and entertaining for all concerned.
“We aimed to make the trip as authentic as possible, and returning to London to a fantastic welcome party kept this going right to the last moment. The original Bentley boys would drive straight to a party at a London location, and Jack Barclay Bentley were able to recreate this atmosphere with sophistication and a real sense of fun.”
H.R. Owen Jack Barclay Bentley is located on Berkeley Square in Mayfair.