The historic Bentley 3 Litre MH 7580 car that participated in the prestigious 1925 Le Mans 24 hours race will be given the place of honor at the 2016 London Classic Car show this February. Racer Georgina Riley, a member of the historic Bentley Belles racing team, will be behind the wheel of this classic and very important icon of Bentley’s motorsports history.
Bentley Belles is an all-female four-strong team that has competed in the Le Mans Classic, the Mille Miglia, and the Benhafields’s 24 hours race in Portimao. For lovers of iconic and classic cars, the London Classic Car Show offers the chance to see these beautifully crafted historic pieces up close.
They would even see them in action since the cars would be actually driven for the crowds to see them on the move as well as smell and hear the hypnotic purrs of their engines. Restoration of the original Bentley car was started by William Medcalf of Vintage Bentley back in 2001.
For the past 14 years, the Bentley 3 Litre Team Car was painstakingly restored and looked after by Medcalf, preserving much of what was in the original car that today. It can be said with pride though that the car is still the original.
For example, though the car is currently sporting a more aerodynamic windscreen to improve its speed, it still has its original Vander Plas four-seater body. The few additional improvements include a larger 25-gallon tank, an uprated engine worthy of ‘Supersports’ rating and a slightly stiffened suspension.
This Bentley car participated in the 1925 run of the Le Mans 24 hr race but had to retire on lap 19 after running out of fuel. This was caused by a last-minute rule change requiring cars to race with their hoods up for the first 20 laps thereby affecting the car’s fuel efficiency.
It led the race since it started but Number 10 – the number given to the Bentley 3 Litre for the race – ultimately failed to finish. The 1925 run was the only Le Mans race during the period of 1924 to 1930 where the Bentley 3 Litre did not win.
British Racing Driver’s Club founder and 1927 Le Mans 24 hr race winner Dudley Genjafield together with racer Herbert Kensington Moir were the Bentley Motor Works drivers for this 1925 race. After failing the 1925 race, the MH7580 was used as a demonstrator car for Bentley before it was sold to a private owner.
The car led an active and colorful service and in the 1970s, it even completed over 1000 miles in one day to prove its worth. In 2005, Bentley Drivers Club Concours at Hatfield House named it ‘Car of the Show’.
In 2013, as preparation for the inaugural Benjafield’s 24 hour race the following year, William Medcalf and Paul Carter drove the MH7580 non-stop for 24 hours covering over 1400 miles in the process at the Portimao race circuit to prove and test its race capability.
This year, after more than 90 years, the MH7580 is set to return at Le Mans to join in the Le Mans Classic. For William Medcalf, he considers it a privilege to be a part of the restoration of the Bentley 3 Litre MH7580, one of the most historic cars in British motorsport.