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Originally published: February 2020
1:18 1930 Le Mans winning Bentley Speed Six
1930 marked the eighth running of the 24 hour race at the Circuit de la Sarthe. It was to be run over the weekend of the 21st/22nd June.
It was the smallest field ever to participate in the event, with just 17 cars lining up on the grid. And that was because this was still the middle of the Great Depression. But it was, nonetheless, a quality field, with two big Bentleys, a mighty seven litre Mercedes and a supercharged Alfa Romeo.
The lead car was to be driven by defending champion, and Bentley company Director, Woolf Barnato.
Race day was hot. Caracciola in the Mercedes, at the head of the field, immediately took the lead. He broke the lap record on lap two and then turned off the supercharger. Birken, in the privately-funded Bentley Blower began to close the gap, but de-laminating tyres thwarted his attack. The Mercedes withstood further onslaughts from both the Davis/Dunfee and the Kidston/Barnato Bentleys.
Through the night Bentley and Mercedes swapped the lead. But at 1:30 am the Mercedes came to a stop; a wire had come loose on the dynamo and the battery had gone flat. This left Bentley running in the first, second, third and fifth positions.
1930 saw the smallest Le Mans 24 Hours grid ever, with just 17 cars. Fortunately, the quality of the field made up for the quantity!
The second half of the race was less exciting. Once again, Bentley staged a formation finish, with Woolf Barnato getting back to back victories in the same Speed Six chassis he had driven in to secure the win in 1929.
Barnato immediately announced his retirement, having achieved the amazing feat of three outright wins from three starts. Bentley had now achieved five wins in the first eight years of the race, but this was the depression; and soon after the win Bentley disbanded its works racing team. In 1931, two loan repayments lapsed, the receivers came in, and the company was bought out by Rolls-Royce.
There is not a lot that we can, or that we feel we need to say, about the Spark replica of Barnato’s car.
With the demise of Minichamps as a maker of classic subjects, Spark is now the pre-eminent producer in the market. Their models are made from resin, and are always highly faithful and accurate renditions of the full-size subjects they replicate.
Victory in the 1930 Le Mans 24 Hours marked Bentley’s fifth victory in just eight editions of the event. Its sixth would follow some 73 years later!
Nobody seriously questions the quality of Spark’s models which, given the number of subjects they tackle every year, is quite remarkable. In the margin, CMC creates replicas that are more detailed and intricate, although not necessarily more accurate. But the prices of the German maker’s models now orbit around a different planet. And unlike the French retailer, they produce no more than two subjects a year.
Spark has supplied a photograph of their Bentley, but it is only a low resolution picture. Nobody, however, is going to be disappointed with the quality of the subject.
We expect to see the 1930 Bentley at some point early in the summer. Its RRP is £149.99.
In recent years, the diecast/model collecting world has changed. Dramatically so. The manufacturers don’t hold stock, the importers don’t hold stock, the distributors don’t hold stock and, by and large, neither do the retailers.
Shortly after they are released, the most desirable models sell out quickly. Our view is that replicas do not get more special, or desirable than this Spark Bentley. If you’re a Spark fan, a Bentley fan or a classic Le Mans fan, you should do something about it. Soonish!