The Western Australia Bentley Drivers Club passed through Crozet May 16 as part of its tour of the South. They stopped at Judd and Carrie Culver’s Kelly Bronze organic turkey farm in Greenwood, where they were treated to a turkey feast and about a dozen of the antique cars were on display for locals to see.
The club occasionally makes driving tours, usually across Australia but in recent years also in North America, in the western U.S., British Columbia, and from Baltimore to Niagara Falls.
The club shipped their cars to New Orleans and began a six-weeks journey from there up the Mississippi, across Tennessee, into North Carolina and Virginia and on to Baltimore, where the cars are loaded on ships for the return trip to Perth. The group picked up the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville and followed it up to Albemarle.
The stop in Greenwood was arranged by Kelly Bronze founder Paul Kelly, who happens to live near the turkey farm of British club member and tour organizer David Smith, known as “Turkey Dave.” But Smith unfortunately passed away as this year’s road rally was underway.
The Bentleys owned by club members were built between 1923 and 1930 in a marketing program to show off Bentley manufacturing on racetracks. Italian carmaker Bugatti was Bentley’s main racing competition, club president Trevor Eastwood said, and Bugatti once observed that Bentley made “the fastest lorries in the world,” a reference to the Bentley’s heavy frames and overall construction.
Eastwood’s 1930 Bentley has a hand-machined, 12-cylinder engine that generates 600 horsepower. It will go 100 mph at 3,000 rpm, he said, but starts shaking above 80 mph. The cars are uncomfortable on long trips and won’t keep passengers dry in the rain, he acknowledged. But they are mechanically straightforward and uncomplicated.
Eastwood’s car had a teddy bear attached to the radiator cap, named Brandi Bear, a souvenir he picked up in Natchez, Mississippi.