The phrase ‘golden age of motoring’ always seems to refer to a distant past, but a deliciously indulgent new tome entitled ‘The Bentley Brooklands’ might persuade you it’s alive and well. This sumptuous 207-page publication, co-written by esteemed car racer and author Tony Dron and luxury goods writer Simon de Burton, explains in fascinating detail the raison d’être of one of the most exclusive supercars Bentley has ever made.
Just 438 of the Brooklands coupés were built between 2008 and early 2010. Each has a 530 horsepower engine, a top speed of more than 180mph, a kerb weight of almost three tons and a list price well in excess of £200,000. Dron visits the Bentley factory at Crewe to discover exactly how the cars were constructed and then uses his racing experience to drive and evaluate the last example off the line.
de Burton then takes over with a history of the evolution of ‘motor touring’ in the grand tradition, during which he recounts the famous ‘Blue Train Race’ of 1930 in which the celebrated ‘Bentley Boy’ Woolf Barnato drove his Speed Six formal saloon from Cannes to Folkestone and on to London in less time than it took the prestigious Train Bleu to travel from the Cote d’Azur to Calais.
The book closes with an account of the final Brooklands Coupe being used for a nostalgic trip from London to Nice, taking in part of Barnarto’s route and breaking the journey at suitably gastronomic restaurants and five-star hotels along the way.
Superb imagery by leading car photographers Michael Bailie and Charlie Best combine with the thoroughly engrossing text and several pages of entertaining statistics and specifications to form a book that deserves a place on any petrol head’s coffee table. Or, to be more exact, any wealthy petrol head’s coffee table - ‘basic’ cloth bound versions in a slipcase cost £125 while the limited ‘special edition,’ bound in the same burgundy Pasubio leather used on the featured car and presented in a velvet-lined, leather-covered case, weighs-in at a hefty £295.... roughly equivalent to the cost of twice refuelling a Bentley Brooklands.