Bentley does it around New Zealand

By Trevor Quinn, trevor.quinn@age.co.nz


An historic Bentley racing car was one of a fleet of vintage Bentleys to drive through Masterton yesterday as car enthusiasts from England, Australia and New Zealand descended on Wairarapa.

Twenty-two vintage cars from the Bentley drivers club New Zealand tour started their journey from the bottom of the South Island just over three weeks ago and are now heading to Napier.

Twelve cars were shipped from England via South Africa, where most of the group also travelled, and in November they were shipped on to New Zealand.

Mike Thompson and his wife Josie from East Yorkshire drove a rare 1926 Bentley 3 litre 100mph Super Sport yesterday, which is one of only 18 short chassis 100mph Super Sport cars built worldwide.

"It's called a 100 miles an hour car but it actually goes a lot faster," Mr Thompson said.

In the late 1920s and early 30s his car raced 40 times in the world's first purpose-built motorsport venue Brooklands in Surrey, winning seven top races.

Mr Thompson said the car, which reached speeds of more than 120mph (193km/h) during its heyday, was "priceless".

The Yorkshireman, who has travelled across Europe and further abroad in his car, said he was enjoying his first adventure in New Zealand.

"It's very relaxing driving around here. [The landscape] reminds me of Norway and Scotland and the west coast of Canada," he said.

Thompson said he was an avid mountaineer and enjoyed the rugged landscape and mountains of the New Zealand countryside. "It's superb. The amazing thing is the mountains rise up so close to the plains, you're in and you're out of them so quickly. Everywhere, everything is so different, we had a very nice time at Mt Cook."

English couple Colin Pigott and his wife Ray Pigott were also in Masterton yesterday.

They drove a 1930 Bentley 41/2 litre VDP Tourer model, which competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.

Mr and Mrs Pigott were one of the 12 couples who spent two months driving through South Africa late last year.

And when asked about New Zealand, Mr Pigott replied: "What a fantastic country." The cars now head to Napier for Geon Art Deco weekend

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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