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Bentley 1927 3L Le Mans team car “Bitch”

The starting point of the “Bentley Boys” era at Le Circuit de la Sarthe

From the three Bentleys that took part in the Le Mans race in 1927, only one, “Bitch”, is still “alive”. Its current owner, Michael Dacre, has been invited by Concours d’Elegance Villa d’Este to enter it in the Dawn of the Performance Age Class A competition. Here we share with you the story of this extraordinary car.


There were three entrants from Bentley Motors at the 1927 Le Mans, affectionately named “Snitch”, “Witch”, and “Bitch”. Around 9.40pm, just as night was settling across the circuit, a back-marker car was pushing to make up time, when it spun at the Maison Blanche (“White House”) chicane approaching the pit straight.

Start of the Le Mans 24 Hours race, 1927. At the time, drivers had to run to their cars as the flag went down.

The two lead Bentleys (Snitch and Bitch) crashed into a ditch while avoiding the stricken car and were out of the race. Other competitors suffered a similar fate and a pile-up resulted. When Sammy Davis arrived in Witch, he found the road completely blocked so rather than hitting the stationary cars head-on, Davis put his Bentley into a slide and struck them sideways.

As the remaining competitors drove past, Davis rescued his teammates and the other drivers, making sure all had survived, and then, untangling his Bentley from the wreckage, limped back into the pits. All seemed lost. Despite W.O. Bentley’s remonstrations, Davis insisted that he could continue the race. According to the rules at the time, only the driver was allowed to repair the damaged vehicle, so with the advice of the mechanics, he was able to get it moving again.

The remaining Bentleys continued to race despite the handicap. Having worked its way gradually through the field, at around 2.30pm on the second day, the Bentley driven by Davis and Benjafield found itself in first position and held on to it until the chequered flag came up, securing the most famous victory yet for the British manufacturer.

Bitch being closely followed by Witch at the 1927 Le Mans. Bitch would end up in a ditch with team mate Snitch after trying to avoid an earlier crash. Witch circumvented it, stopped to help, and went on to win the race.

The win ingrained the Bentley marque in the national consciousness. The dramatic events surrounding the Maison Blanche crash and Davis’s honourable and heroic actions were immortalised in the press and were the stuff of “boy’s own” stories in comics. The team were greeted as national heroes and The Autocar magazine fuelled the Bentley team’s reputation further by hosting a grand post-race party at The Savoy Hotel, London, where the winning car was the guest of honour, brought in by removing the back doors to the hotel.

Of the three Bentleys that raced in 1927, Snitch appeared at Le Mans again in 1928 and in subsequent years, eventually becoming “Old Mother Gun”. Witch was bought by Dr Benjafield and he continued to race her, eventually ending its days in a crash with a lamp post in New York in the 1940s.  Bitch lived on.


True restoration is, by its nature, obsessive, it becomes an overarching desire. Restoring one of the Bentleys from the 1927 race, establishing a complete provenance and history surrounding the car, has been the driving force for two vintage Bentley enthusiasts over the past quarter of a century.

Left: front cover to The Hornet comic, January 19, 1964, extolling the victory of the Bentley Boys at Le Mans in 1927. Right: the only eyewitness account of the crash at White House, immortalised by Sammy Davis in this painting.

When Bob Moggeridge bought Bitch at auction in 1997, it hadn’t even crossed his mind to recover the history of car or that of its owners, let alone compile the details of the 1927 Le Mans race. He pointed out that “If somebody had given me a cardboard wallet with 10 photographs and some information in it, I would have probably accepted that and never given it a second thought, but, because the car had nothing with it and the previous guy had had it for 50 years, I reasoned that there should be some material out there.”

After crashing at Le Mans, Bitch was repaired and went on to have several owners, among them Sub Lt H Kidston (brother of Glen Kidston). In 1997, it was sold at a Brooks auction to R. A. “Bob” Moggeridge.

After acquiring Bitch, Bob did 10 years of research followed by a decade of restoration work. Most components are original, and all parts have the necessary matching serial numbers. Knowledge of the famed true colour of the racing green livery came from tracing the old paint manufacturer and matching records with vintage colour charts. Some of it was detective work and some of it was pure luck. For example, Kennard’s papers were found at a GCSE student’s art exhibition entitled Things I found in a skip, exactly where the box had been placed before the industrious scholar found it. Bob even acquired paintings by Sammy Davis from his memories of the crash. Davis had been an art student before a racing driver and a journalist.

Bob Moggeridge next to Bitch (YF 2503) and Mike Dacre next to a Blower Bentley (GH 6951) at Brooklands Circuit, 2021.

Bitch became life-defining, but Bob has no regrets. “It was an obsession, but also so much fun! Meeting with people, driving to their houses or talking to them on the phone would lead me to the next person and then to another. I received lots of candid photographs thanks to these encounters and conversations.”

Before selling Bitch, Bob had the chance to drive at Le Mans at the Centenary Celebration of Bentley in 2019. Over 90 years since it crashed, Bitch winged its way around the Circuit de la Sarthe once more with the man who had restored it to original form. It was a fitting tribute to both history and renewal, and obsession rewarded.


Due to ill health that prevented Bob from driving, he decided to sell. The question was to whom. It was not to be sold to a museum or for parts or for someone to place in an exhibit. As so often happens in such circumstances, it was chance that led Mike Dacre to meet Bob and see Bitch. 

The introduction was made by a mutual friend and vintage car dealer. With a wry smile, Mike explained “I went down to meet Bob and I just was not able to take it in or comprehend what was in front of me.  I just could not believe how good the car was kept or its history, let alone all the memorabilia Bob had gathered over the years.” Mike was certainly impressed with the importance of Bitch and its history, “Driving Bitch at Brooklands was a real goosebumps moment,” he recalls rubbing one arm.

Mike Dacre taking Bitch for an early morning spin at Hampton Manor. Photo © Alex Lawrence.

Mike intends to make his own contribution. “I want to continue what Bob started,” he shares. “The plan is to use the car. What I don’t want is, in 20 or 30 years from now, realise that we broke the chain and let things slip. This is a story that started in 1927 and I feel it’s my responsibility to complete and maybe add to it. I want to make sure Bitch is seen, appreciated and driven., which is, after all, the best part.”

Mike has already started his contribution. He recently found one of Sammy Davis’s racing helmets, which is fitting, since he wrote under the pseudonym of “Casque” (French for helmet), along with an original book of cartoons where Davis made light of the dangers and the implications for drivers at the 1927 race.

With a change of ownership has come a change of protocol. As well as driving the car in vintage rallies, Mike’s young family are very much involved. Bitch has become part of their family adventures, once again a memory maker, almost Fleming-esque in its form: a former race car that crashed; that was nearly a casualty of war; returned to her former glory when she flew the Circuit de la Sarthe at the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours; now completely restored.

Ever since, Bitch has added many other prizes to its long list of accomplishments, among them, the Fledgling Trophy from the Benjafield Club at the Centenary Le Mans Classic, 2023.

Words: Andrew Hildreth

This article is a summary of the whole story of Bitch, published in our Spring 2022 issue, available HERE. You can also learn about Bitch racing at the Centenary Le Mans in our Winter 2023 issue, which you can purchase HERE.

Leading image: Bitch on the winning straight at the Centenary Le Mans Classic race, driven by Michael Dacre. Photo © Jayson Fong.

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