Meet The Neighbours - The TOC visits the Bentley Drivers Club
In the Roaring Twenties, Bentley was just up the road from Barlby Road, and whilst geographically close they could not have been more dissimilar. Clement Talbot part of an international conglomerate with its own large purpose built factory, and an Invincible history stretching back almost to the beginning of the century.
Walter Owen on the other hand in Cricklewood, only had a series of old sheds, outsourcing most of his work, going bust regularly and struggling from day to day, with an incredibly small outfit, it was a post war affair, with zero heritage
Also the cars themselves could not be more different, lets put it this way. If a young man in a Talbot in the twenties turned up to take your daughter out; as a parent you would be reassured, and think of possible son in law material. If he turned up in a Bentley, however, reassurance is not the first word that would come to mind,
Today the position with the clubs is reversed for example my own TOC membership number is 78 whereas my Bentley Drivers Club no is 21,528 so you may get an idea of the difference in scale. The BDC has its own purpose built clubhouse and full time staff. ( none of whom own Bentleys ). And has become a global brand. There is a joining fee, an annual fee, a fee to join the spares scheme, and an optional fee towards The Bentley Heritage Trust. And when you think how cheap ( sorry inexpensive ) the TOC is. Shall we just say that, The BDC is reassuringly expensive.
Now Howard Day is not only, the only member of the TOC to get his Talbot on the front page of the Automobile, but he also knows how to run a good bash, and this was no exception. As we entered I wondered what my thought were; Is the TOC, a small brave real enthusiast driven club, and that whilst the BDC can have their fancy dancy posh premises, we instead are proud to have half of David Roxburgh’s old wardrobe. And that this makes us a genuine club, a case of David and Goliath; or then again perhaps in truth we are just the poor relations. Suddenly I was stirred from my reverie, it was a call to arms, we were about to walk on hallowed ground.
Wow! And what a show, we were given the full VIP job. The WO Bentley Memorial Trustees really went for it. A four person power point display, posh coffee and posher biscuits, and three of the team had already dined with the twenty five of us at The White Horse. After the detailed Bentley display they decided to go one better, a surprise Talbot premier, complete with red carpet. Incredible unseen photos of the Talbot team competing in the August 1931 Ulster Tourist Trophy Showing the team cars the drivers, racing smoking relaxing, and just about everything else, even the privateer in the 90 can be seen in the back of one of the pictures, a mini archive, all found in an old shoe box somewhere in the depths of the BDC emporium. A grey Wednesday in February had just become magical
As for myself having just swapped my trusty 105 for a 1924 3 litre Bentley, all I can say is that it fits my temperament completely; after all, it is a car for cads.