Bentley Surprise in Naseby
We have visited Naseby a number of times over the years, the most recent time just two years ago. We were therefore not expecting anything out of the ordinary when we came off the end of the Danseys Pass Road and into the old gold mining town. Imagine then the surprise at finding three vintage Bentley Open Tourers parked outside the Black Forest Cafe as we turned into the main street!
Nearly every schoolboy of my era in the British Commonwealth knew of the reputation of these cars during the 1920s and 30s – it was legendary. There were some three thousand Bentley cars of this style built between 1922 and the early years of the 1930s with various engine sizes ranging between 3 litres and 8 litres. By far the most popular was the 4 1/2 litre model built between 1928 and 1931. The great claim to fame for these cars was winning the Le Mans 24 hour race in France in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930.
So there they were, a 4.0 litre, 4.5 litre and 3 litre model parked beside the only cafe in town. And magnificent they were too. Why were they in Naseby? They were part of a Bentley Owners 2013 New Zealand Tour. That morning the cars had left Dunedin and had made their way to Naseby en-route to Mt Cook. Not being the types to take the easy road, they had chosen to travel over Danseys Pass in the opposite direction from which we had just come.
Shortly after our arrival they departed with a chorus of gutsy engines and and a flurry of leaves as they headed into rain and colder temperatures in the Kakanui Mountains.
Curiously, across the street is an antiques shop whose owner has a small collection of cars from the 1930-1950 era.