Classic Sports Car
Developing an appreciation for classic cars with class
I have been a Lancia enthusiast since a college friend’s father let me drive his Fulvia Coupé in the late ’60s. His new toy was an antidote to his usual transport, the company’s chauffeurdriven Humber Imperial, and this was much to my friend’s chagrin because his father wouldn’t let him drive it. I guess his dad was impressed by my new TR5, bought with the proceeds of so many part-time jobs that my results were distinctly unimpressive.
I have since owned many different Lancias, from a Lambda to a new Gamma Coupé (bought at a huge discount off list, way back when), but none have given me greater pleasure than the B20 GT – mine for 20 years. I was therefore pleased to see the Lancia chosen as the best all-rounder in your March group test.
However, this is not the main purpose of my letter. It relates to the comment in the article on Alvis ‘Grey Ladies’ in the same issue, that they were a favourite of Bernard Herrmann. In fact, the left-hand-drive Alvis he bought in California followed him and the equally scruffily dressed
Alfred Hitchcock not being taken seriously at the local Rolls-royce showroom. Shades of John Lennon?
Herrmann was living mainly in the UK by the ’60s, where he and his new (young) third wife Norma, née Shepherd, acquired a Bentley S1 Continental. He didn’t drive in the UK, so the car was driven by Norma. Apparently, she found it difficult – perhaps in part because the car had a manual gearbox with the lever in the right-hand position. This car became mine in around 1999, replacing an R-type Continental sacrificed to re-capitalising my company.
I didn’t find it a struggle having previously had Derby Bentleys, the Continental being my fifth of seven Bentleys owned (so far), all by HJ Mulliner. However, I swiftly concluded that the manual ’box that so perfectly suited the R-type didn’t suit the S1; perhaps that’s why only eight were so equipped. It was replaced, via an S2, by my ex-roger Daltrey S1 fastback. An auto, and all the better for it. Terry Unwin