2019 represented a huge milestone in the history of Bentley Motors, the 100th anniversary of the company. As the centenary year approached so did numerous invitations for Frank Dale & Stepsons to attend, present and display Bentleys at events all over the world. Whilst we would have been delighted to accept every invitation we simply couldn't be in all these places at once, so we chose carefully.
Our stand had possibly our best ever line up of cars to date, with most major models shown with a heavy Bentley theme. The show was very well attended as always and we caught up with old customers and made new acquaintances. Most notably for us Essen has always provided a platform from which to further our reach in to the European market. However this has not been helped in recent times by the ongoing saga that is Brexit, a topic which continued to dominate not only in the UK but across the channel throughout 2019. However, following the British general election last month, it will be interesting to see how this now plays out under the stewardship of a majority Conservative government. The year began for us in Germany with the Essen Techno Classica. Our first local event came at the end of May, with the South of England RREC rally at Stansted House, Hampshire. It was arguably the best attended Southern rally I can remember in recent years, with many of our more localised customers cars clearly recognisable in the grounds line up, which was very gratifying to see. We chose to take an R Type Continental for a run down the A3 to the venue which was great fun. A couple of hours looking around the cars in attendance, an ice cream and a chat with various friends at the event was a Sunday afternoon well spent.
The annual RREC Rally returned to its familiar home at the stunning Burghley House grounds in Lincolnshire in June and we merrily arrived with seven lovely cars to display once again. Fortunately the weather was particularly kind to the large crowds and dozens of our fellow traders. This year we also entered an S1 Continental Drophead coupe by Park Ward into the concours on behalf of the owner. This car was supplied by Emma and I through our showroom and then restored by our team. On concours morning, following the judges fine toothcomb inspection we were thrilled to win best in class for this S1 Continental. Later in the day four beautifully prepared cars, including our Bentley, were selected as finalists for the rally's best in show honours and in a Crufts like moment we were overwhelmed to see the head judge pointing at us and walking towards us with the winning rosette and a huge smile.BURGHLEYOur show stand at Burghley House 2019 Rolls-Royce National Rally and Concours Best in Show Winner 1957 Bentley S1 Continental Drophead Coupe by Park Ward, Chassis No BC93BG. Supplied, restored and prepared by Frank Dale & Stepsons.
The concours circuit continued on in late June to the fabulous Arts and Elegance Concours at the wonderful Chateau de Chantilly. I had the enviable task of taking three magnificent cars to the event for entry into the concours, all of which we have previously supplied. The weather in France in late June was nothing short of unprecedented, with 40 degree heat, but I am pleased to report that the cars coped beautifully even in these oppressive conditions. We chose to drive a beautiful S1 Continental drophead coupe by Park Ward for the 75 mile tour on the Saturday morning which was really enjoyable, seeing some of the beautiful French countryside along the well planned route. The spectacular gala dinner followed that evening in the historic stables which set the tone for concours day on Sunday. We were delighted to win two prizes; a best in class award for the Bentley Cresta by Facel/Farina and "The most elegant Bentley" in all classes was awarded to our 4 Litre drophead coupe by Veth & Zoon. Best in show honours were awarded to Chip Connor for his fantastic 8 Litre Bentley and to Robert Kudela for his stylish Talbot Lago. It was a wonderful event to be part of at one of the world's most spectacular venues.
The hot summer weather we experienced in France happily found its way to the UK in July for the Goodwood Festival of Speed. We were invited by Lord March to supply a car for the Bentley concours line up and duly obliged with an S2 Continental coupe by H.J.Mulliner. The Bentley display was first class with, amongst others, an R Type Continental drophead coupe by Park Ward and also the original Embericos Bentley which is one of my personal favourites. Another exquisitely executed event by Lord March and his team at the Goodwood Estate, they continue to impress year on year.
Monterey Week & Pebble Beach Concours Monterey's famous Bixby Creek Bridge. Being invited to show a car at Pebble Beach was truly an ambition achieved in 2019 - and not just any car! We were asked to bring the 4 Litre open tourer by Vanden Plas, known affectionately to many as Honeysuckle, and in the Californian sunshine her golden coach work literally shone. With a base in the charming town of Carmel, we enjoyed an action packed week, attending auctions, dinners with customers and friends, events in Carmel and The Quail, plus some obligatory tourist stops at the Monterey Aquarium and some whale watching in the bay. However the two main events of the week for me were the famous Pebble Beach Rolex tour on Thursday morning and then the concours on Sunday. Thursday was an early start and the tour consisted of around 150 amazing cars, split into two groups of around 75. The route was initially through the forests that surround Monterey but then out onto California One. We headed south along the spectacular coastal road to Big Sur and then back again. Several thousand spectators lined the streets of Carmel to greet the cars upon arrival which created a wonderful atmosphere. It really was a magical experience and one I hope to take part in many more times in future years.