DRIVE-IN CHATS – Conversations for a Cause – eps 7

David McGirr and his 1928 Bentley 4 ½ Liter Tourer

Text by: Jeff Ehoodin

Winning Le Mans With Trucks: The Bentley Boys

No car draws a crowd quite like a pre-war Bentley, especially a 4.5-liter Vanden Plas Tourer, brought to our DRIVE-IN CHATS by David McGirr and his wife/navigator/co-pilot Maggie. With a wheelbase spanning over 10 feet, the cars are the automotive equivalent of a steam engine in sheer presence and mechanical fascination. At the dawn of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, no less than Ettore Bugatti paid them the ultimate compliment after coming up short against them, calling them “the world’s fastest lorries.” Mind you, they were winning against all other race cars! 

While rugged, the Vanden Plas Tourer body is a lightweight design derived from early aircraft, with the entire section after the cockpit is being constructed of wood, but protected from the elements by wire, padding, and a canvas covering. The displacement of 4.5 liters for the engine is not unusual for a modern 6- or 8-cylinder car. Yet, this is a 4.5 liter freight train or whatever analogy comes to mind – a car of epic proportions. 

In 1928, Bentley 4.5s won the first of three consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans races, driven by a group of primarily British aristocrats that came to be known as the Bentley Boys. More than perhaps any others, these courageous drivers and cars put the French endurance race on the map as the ultimate test of man and machine.

It’s not surprising that as engineer, David chose this car. A proper Pre-War Bentley is perhaps the finest collection of elegant, purposeful mechanical solutions ever melded into a stunning and successful package. 

About Drive in Chats:

Directed and produced by Alexander Davidis and inspired to capture a car collectors’ affection for their most special vehicles, the ‘Drive-In Chat’ philosophy began as a fundraising tool supporting non-profit Drive Toward a Cure, with a 9-part series of video vignettes of individual car love stories.

New videos will be released ongoing over the late winter and early spring and can be viewed here and on Drive Toward a Cure’s website (below). 

In 2020, Deb Pollack, founder of Drive Toward a Cure, sought to continue supporting various regional Parkinson Foundation Centers of Excellence throughout the country as part of her Foundation’s “Access to Care” program. Prior localized events all included physical drives, but limitations later set by COVID-19 gathering restrictions and winter weather challenges allowed for ‘Drive-In Chats’ in the Northeast to become a reality over this past Thanksgiving Weekend.

The event brought together car collectors who had grown hungry to share their beautiful and historically significant vehicles in a safe setting. The fundraising effort exceeded initial monetary goals – with 100% of the proceeds benefitting the Division of Movement Disorders at Columbia University (NY), a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence, and one of seven Centers supported by Drive Toward a Cure

Enjoy the clip, and please help us continue to raise funds for Parkinson’s Disease, right here on our dedicated donation site: