An unforgettable afternoon


Meet the 1939 Bentley 4 1/4 Litre Vanden Plas Open Tourer or, as she is more famously known, ‘Honeysuckle’ on account of the distinctive colour of her coachwork.

She’s the subject of my first published shoot of 2021, which appears in the February issue of The Automobile. I’m pretty pleased to have broken my duck so early in the year because, as you can probably imagine, 2020 wasn’t exactly a vintage year to be a car photographer. The adverse effects of twelve months of almost constant lockdown, a decimated events calendar and magazine revenues nose-diving added up to a frustratingly dry year.

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Which is why, although I’m really happy with the way the shoot turned out, looking back at the images gives me a tinge of sadness. Despite the shoot only taking place a few months ago, in that sliver of freedom between Lockdowns 1 and 2, it feels like forever ago. The blue sky. The sunshine. The English countryside. The fact that I was out of the house.

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In the (sigh) New Normal, where our sensations are limited to whatever entertainment we can conjure up within the confines of our own homes, nothing comes close to the sensory overload of the onrushing countryside and the sheer joy of wafting through the Cotswolds behind the quiet purr of Honeysuckle’s straight-six.

As you can hopefully tell from the photos, there isn’t a bad angle on this car which made for a very enjoyable late-Autumn afternoon spent with sun on face and camera in hand. And, in case you haven’t guessed, I don’t half miss ’em.

With a bit of luck, some semblance of normality will resume before too long, and I’ll be able to spend many more days just like this.

If you’d like to read more about this glorious motor car, instead of me wittering on about lockdowns, you can grab a copy of the mag online.

From the cutting room floor

Obviously, only a fraction of the hundreds of images shot that day made it into the mag, so here are a few of my favourites that didn’t make the cut.