The Bentley Blue Train is famous for its power, speed and reliability. To prove that point, race car driver, Woolf Barnato bet his colleges over dinner that he could beat Le Train Bleu. Specifically he said he and his relief driver could get from Cannes to London (700 miles) before the train rolls into the station at Calais (570 miles). So early the next morning, the unofficial race was on. As we know Barnato was successful but not without trials of heavy rain, dense fog, dusty roads, rough roads and a flat tire to boot. He rolled into London just four minutes ahead of the train.
Today, in addition to its historical race worthiness, this car has also proven to be one of the most iconic car designs in Bentley’s history. In fact several companies have painstakingly recreated the Bentley Blue train and are pictured below.
But, the race left behind an ongoing debate which still smolders some 86 years after the historic race. YES, the debate still continues (seems to be debate season), on whether it was the Bentley by coach builders Gurney Nutting or H. J. Mulliner. I don’t think this one will ever be won with complete satisfaction. But the best arguments to date are based on Barnato’s race account and some documented comments. So, from those bits of information it is believed the actual Blue train Bentley was the Mulliner-bodied Bentley Speed Six, similar to the all black fabric recreation shown in the gallery.
I can only imagine what is must have been like in that March of 1930; climbing behind that big wheel and moving that machine along for all those miles and under such difficult and trying conditions. They averaged a speed of 43.43 miles per hour. . . just fast enough for the win, fame and fortune—Barnato collected his bet of $200 pounds along with years of hard earned bragging rights.