Brian Joss – A massive contingent of vintage and classic Bentleys will arrive en masse at the Knysna Motor Show on April 28, 2019.
The occasion will be the Bentley Centenary, and to celebrate this huge milestone, The Bentley Drivers Club of South Africa has scheduled the Knysna Motor Show as the first stop of its special commemorative 2019 rally.
At present, some 20 Bentleys are confirmed for the Knysna Motor Show, which will once again be held at the Knysna High School Sports Grounds on Waterfront Drive.
“The Cape branch of the club is scheduled to gather at Arniston, from there we drive to Knysna, where we will take part in the wonderful Knysna Motor Show,” confirmed Bentley Drivers Club of the Western Cape chairman, John White.
Mr White and his wife Frederike will be arriving in his magnificent Bentley 4½-litre, perhaps the most famous Bentley model of all in its 100-year history. However, The Bentley Drivers Club will be show-casing a whole range of iconic Bentleys, ranging from at least five 3-litre models built between 1922 to 1928, through to much more modern classics, such as the 1998 Bentley Continental T owned by Robert and Maryke Middelmann, and Shaun Rai’s 1998 Bentley Azure convertible.
The Drivers Club’s mustering for Knysna, and their post-motor show foray into the mountain passes in and around Oudtshoorn, will include cars from the most important periods of the 100-year Bentley history. These will include the so-called “Silent Cars” built between 1932 and 1939, and the beautiful post-World War Two models which number some of the most elegant motor cars ever made.
It is probably true to say that were it not for the discovery of gold and diamonds in South Africa in the late 19th century, the very name of Bentley in respect of awe-inspiring motorcars wouldn’t exist today.
Barney Barnato was one of the English Randlords who made a fortune in South Africa, but who died in mysterious circumstances while travelling by ship from South Africa to England in 1897. His son Woolf Barnato inherited a huge amount of money while still a young boy. Woolf became enamoured with Bentley sports cars soon after they went into production in 1919, and went on to acquire a 3-litre model in 1925 and race Bentleys at Brooklands race track in England and at Le Mans, as one of the famous Bentley Boys.
When W.O Bentley, the founder of Bentley, suffered financial setbacks in 1925, Woolf Barnato bailed the company out and became chairman of Bentley.
This period was to be seen as the Golden Period, as Bentleys won four consecutive Le Mans 24-Hour races between 1927 and 1930. But after the stock market crash in1929, Bentley Cars was then taken over by its fierce competitor, Rolls-Royce in 1931. Thus began the era of 3 1⁄2 Litre cars, advertised by Rolls-Royce as “the silent sports car”. Post war the Mk VI Bentleys were produced at Crewe, England, and later came the famous R-Type and S-Series of the 1950s. Rolls-Royce ownership continued until 1970, when it was bought out by the Vickers Group. And from 1998, the Bentley nameplate has been under ownership of the Volkswagen Group.
Apart from the vintage and classic-era Bentleys on display, it is expected that there will be a significant presence of the latest Bentley models, including the new Bentayga SUV.
Mr White’s motoring life has encompassed Bentleys since 1959, when he bought his first, a 3-litre model, for the princely sum of 225 pounds (about R3 800 at current exchange rates).
“I have only owned Vintage Bentleys, the cars produced in the W.O. Bentley era between 1920 and 1931. I currently own a 4½-litre with a Van den Plas body, which will be on display.
“Driving these vintage cars is a whole different experience. If you do 400 km in a 1928 car, in the heat or the rain, stopping to fix things, it’s an adventure.”
Mr White has helped organise many Vintage Bentley rallies in South Africa, starting in 1983, and many of them have been international events with owners shipping their cars out from around the world.
The cars that will be on this rally belong to Bentley owners who have known each other for decades, and these include club treasurer Stuart Maxwell, who will be driving one of the oldest cars on the event, a 1922 model 3-litre, with his wife Cindie.
Other 3-litre models will be driven by Richard and Phillippa Middelmann, Rudy Greyvensteyn, Pieter and Phea Fonternal, and Karl and Tilly Reitz. Karl Reitz has been around vintage Bentleys his entire life, as his late father was an avid Bentley driver.
The rally that takes in the Knsyna Motor Show on April 28 is not run to time schedules, but a social event. The South African “Bentley Boys and Girls” will take in the Robertson Pass and challenging gravel Swartberg Pass and also Meiringspoort, these roads providing some of the most spectacular scenery in South Africa. Scenery set to be made only more spectacular by the huge presence of vintage and classic Bentleys!
The Knysna Motor Show
This year’s Knysna Motor Show, sponsored by Sanlam Private Wealth, is the eighth event, and since 2011 it has achieved the status of being one of the best-organised events on the classic-vintage car show calendar, with the highest quality of entries. Since its inception, the organisers have donated hundreds of thousands of rand to charities in the area, and the event itself has grown to accommodate up to 400 cars and classic motorcycles, that are present on the lawns of the Knysna High School Sports Grounds by invitation only.
Apart from the special Bentley display there will be a plethora of vintage and classic car marques gracing the beautiful setting on Knysna’s Waterfront Drive.
“The invitation-only policy enables us to keep the standard of the event very high, and also to vary the display each year, so even for enthusiasts who have been to all of our previous seven shows, there will be something new,” says Peter Pretorius, Chairman of the Garden Route Motor Club, which organises the event.
The 2019 Knysna Motor Show will be held at the Knysna High School , Waterfront Drive, from 9.30am to 4pm on Sunday April 28.
Tickets are: adults R50, R10 for children 12 to 18 years-old, and children under-12 are admitted free.
There are also special deals at various hotels including the Pezula; Protea Quays Hotel.
CAPTION: Vintage style: Bentleys from the 1920s and 1930s. Picture: Stuart Johnston Communications