Pick of the Day: The story of the ‘Blue Train’ Bentley

On offer is a reproduction of the legendary car that beat the train

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blue train
Built on a 1950 Bentley chassis, this 'Blue Train' reproduction is the Pick of the Day

The Blue Train Bentley is one of the most storied vehicles in automotive history, and a reproduction of the famed Blue Train is the Pick of the Day. 

First the story, and then the details on this car, which even as a reproduction is a rare vehicle in its own right:

Captain Joel Woolf Barnato was one of the original “Bentley Boys” and a 2-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He also was the scion of a South African diamond and gold mining company and had become the chairman of Bentley. 

Barnato and his buddies were in Cannes, France, and their discussion turned to an advertisement by British automaker Rover, which claimed that its Light Six was faster than the famed Le Train Bleu.

Known in England as “The Blue Train” because of the color of its sleeper cars, the train was a luxurious French express that carried those who could afford the ticket an overnight trip from Calais on the English Channel to Nice on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

Barnato contended that his Bentley Speed Six certainly could beat the train. Wagers were placed, and Barnato and a co-driver left Nice at the same time as the train. They arrived back in London even before the train reached Calais. 

Barnato won the bet, but he spent more than he won paying for the fines for speeding along the way. Because of the stunt, Bentley was barred from displaying its cars at the Paris auto salon that fall.

The feat was celebrated in a famed painting by Terence Cuneo — except that the painting didn’t show the actual car that beat the train but instead displayed the Gurney Nutting 2-door fastback “Blue Train” Bentley coupe that at the time was still under assembly back in England. 

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No matter. The “Blue Train” Bentley became so famous that Mulliner, Bentley’s bespoke coachbuilding division, created a few reproductions, including the Pick of the Day, which is being advertised on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Sarasota, Florida.

The replica is built on a 1950 Bentley Mark VI extended chassis.  

“Exceedingly fresh with only delivery and sorting miles since its completion, its driveline comprises the Bentley B80 180 HP inline-8 engine with four SU carburetors and a 4-speed synchromesh transmission,” the dealer notes. 

“Its black vinyl and leather-covered coachwork features twin side-mount spares and a Webasto sliding sunroof, and it contains a tool kit in a fold-down tray in the trunk. 

“The hand-crafted interior shows exquisite detailing, combining red leather upholstery and red carpeting with polished walnut cabinetry including matching liquor cabinets, each containing a decanter and set of engraved crystal glasses. 

“Also featuring Large fully functional sunroof. Modern Driving additions include 12v Charging system, Electric power steering giving the driver ease of steering at low speeds and parking. 

“For cabin comfort a very discreet installed modern air conditioning system has been installed with vents from the rear. For show situations, a removable interior panel may be installed.”

The car is offered for $595,000.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

3 COMMENTS

    • Yes, as the story notes, he drove a different car: “The feat was celebrated in a famed painting by Terence Cuneo — except that the painting didn’t show the actual car that beat the train but instead displayed the Gurney Nutting 2-door fastback “Blue Train” Bentley coupe that at the time was still under assembly back in England.”

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