Ronnie’s Motoring Trivia – The Blue Train Bentley



As an old car enthusiast I find motoring trivia very interesting.
This is the story of what has become known as “The Blue Train Bentley”.

In the late twenties a few wealthy motorists became interested in demonstrating the speed and reliability of their cars by racing the Blue Train which was a celebrated French Railway service from Calais to the south of France.

This attracted a lot of public interest and manufacturers used it to promote their products in spite of racing being illegal. Surprisingly, even the staid Rover Company participated in this.

This dramatic painting by Terence Cuneo depicts Woolf Barnato, chairman of Bentley Motors and a skilled racing driver, in a race where he beat the train by four minutes.
Cuneo is noted for always including a “trademark “mouse within his paintings.

It is not clear in this picture but, if you look carefully, it is running for its life a few feet in front of the nearside front wheel.
Although I find the story interesting I think it demonstrates the arrogance of wealthy people of the time. They were prepared to drive furiously through the countryside with no regard for the “peasants”.

For the benefit of motoring anoraks I should remark that the car shown in the painting, a Sportsman Coupe by Gurney Nutting, did not come into Barnato’s possesion until sometime later and the race was actually undertaken in a Bentley Speed Six by Mulliner.

Ronnie Johnston

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