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Monday, September 27, 2010

Recall of some Bentley cars - the safety reason !!

Cars catch the attraction so easily – there are cars and there are luxury ones – at the most one can only dream of. In the film ‘Ninaithaale Inikkum’ – Rajni would risk his finger for a bet on a Toyota car. Those days, the word ‘toyota car’ rhymed with those ultimate mean dreams of ambitious people. Not any longer !!

Of the short list of the cosy ones, Bentley would be amongst the top ones. Quite often Aston Martin 77 is reported to be the costliest one – only 77 pieces ! all sold out at a premium priced at US $ 1.5 M (more than 6 crores !!) The ultra luxury automakers that have the potential for getting included in to the list would be Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari, Koenigsegg, Lamborghini, Leblanc, Maserati, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz, Pagani, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Saleen, Shelby SuperCars and Spyker.

Bentley Motors Limited is a British manufacturer of automobiles, founded in 1919 by Wlaer Owen Bentley. This company was known for the rotary aero engines in WW 1. Since 1998, the company has been owned by the Volkswagen group of Germany. We have not heard much of Cheshire as much as we have heard of Somerset, Yorkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Essex, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Worcestershire, Leicestershire, Gloucestershire et al. Well, the list other than Cheshire is some of the County clubs that play cricket. Crewe is a railway town in Cheshire known for Crewe Railway works, an engineering facility of 1840s and also housed Rolls Royce production; now Pyms Lane factory produces Bentley cars exclusively. Bentley cars are hand-crafted and a favourite of rich and famous.

The luxury car maker Bentley is in news because of its recall of some models over concerns of its distinctive ‘flying B’ hood ornament that they could hurt pedestrians in a collision. The flying B is a winged statue that is designed to retract if the car crashes. Luxury carmaker Bentley is recalling some models over concerns its distinctive "Flying B" hood ornament could hurt pedestrians in a collision.

The fact of life that most metals corrode. Rusting is the common term for corrosion of iron and its alloys, many other metals also undergo corrosion. Rusting is red oxides, formed by the reaction of iron and oxygen in the presence of water or air moisture. The priciest of metals is also susceptible as Bentley has found them to be – the safety administration has issued a recall of some of its models manufactured between 2007 – 2009 due to the perceived problem of retractable ‘flying B’ on the hood corroding and not retracting in the event of a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is an agency of US Govt whose mission is ‘save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle-related crashes’.

The regulators state that the ornament could increase the risk of additional injury if Bentley struck a pedestrian. The car company however stated that they were unaware of any accident or injury related to the same. However, close to 600 units are to be recalled – reports say that the retractable flying B is an optional accessory and Bentley will replace the faulty mechanism free of charge. The recall for this reason, is highly unusual and the company has decided to recall the cars after a dealer spotted the problem in Britain. The total across the globe of this fault could be close to 1400 with 300 in Britain.

The Flying B badge at the centre of the recall dates back to the late 1920s, when W O Bentley was operating out of Cricklewood in north London. It survived until the 1970s, when it was withdrawn for safety reasons, only to return in 2006, with the development of the retractable mechanism. Now the safety mechanism finds itself in news due to water seepage on the system, resulting in rust and corrosion. Some of the famous owners in England include the football captain Rio Ferdinand and hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg.

The Company claims that the repair could be carried out within an hour. Recalls are not rare and Bentley has also has its track record of recalls arising out of problems with filters, retaining blots etc.,

The common Indian need not feel affected as the Bentley Arnage would cost around 2.25 crores, Azure close to 4 crores; a cheaper variety of Bentley continental flying spur would cost around 1.70 crores.

Have you ever seen a Bentley on Indian road – perhaps none at Chennai, though have seen a couple of Lamborghinis which are costlier.

Regards – S Sampathkumar.


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