Master Mechanics: Kingsbury Racing Shop. In the compound of workshops, garages, hangars, and runways that constitute Bicester Heritage, one has no trouble feeling connected to British history. Today the former wartime RAF facility is home to a collective of businesses dedicated to the classic car and motorcycle scene, ranging from restorations to full-on race prep. Few are as quintessentially English as Kingsbury Racing Shop.
Led by engineer and owner Ewen Getley, Kingsbury’s focus is on early W.O. Bentley-designed cars from the marque’s early history. Although some of the machinery is over a century old now, Getley and his team of specialists would hardly call their work routine. As Getley puts it, “Every morning you come in, you find something new to do.”
Whether it’s a restoration of a model destined for touring on public roads or building a car specifically to use in historic racing events, the work that comes out of Kingsbury is always up to the same standard—no matter the use case, the cars exit the workshop ready for the extremes. The thinking is sound: If a motor runs happy and healthy at top speed, it will also work for crushing the countryside in a more leisurely tachometer reading.
Kingsbury has the staff and facilities to expand the scope of its work, but Getley prefers to keep the operations aimed at Bentley. “I’m interested in Bugattis, and Alfa Romeos, beautiful cars like that,” he says, “but really, in vintage cars, Bentley is what I grew up with, what I know, and what I love. They can race, they can rally, they can hill climb, they can go on-road, they can go off-road, and they can do it all very well. They’re just really well engineered cars.”
Well-engineered from the outset, but often modified during the course of their lives at points when their values were relatively minuscule, these old Bentleys often come to Kingsbury not to have their past erased in a full restoration, but revived. Getley describes the thinking behind the work as, “Restore where you can, replace where you must. Ultimately you want to end up with a car that looks like you haven’t touched it—much more difficult than making a shiny car, believe me.”
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