Clive Gallop

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Reginald Clive Gallop
Clive Gallop at the 1922 French Grand Prix (cropped).jpg
Born(1892-02-04)4 February 1892
Cairo, Egypt
Died7 September 1960(1960-09-07) (aged 68)
Leatherhead, Surrey, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Commands heldNo. 56 Squadron
Battles/warsWorld War I
Other workRace driver and Engineer

Colonel Reginald Clive Gallop (4 February 1892[1][2] - 7 September 1960[3]) was an engineer, racing driver and First World War pilot. He was one of the team which developed their first engine for Bentley Motors.

Royal Flying Corps[edit]

Clive Gallop joined the Royal Flying Corps, flying aeroplanes over the Western Front. He commanded a number of flights, including No. 56 Squadron.[4]

London racing driver, motor vehicle dealer and engineer W. O. Bentley had suggested aluminium pistons to his car supplier Doriot, Flandrin & Parant and had them installed in those cars he imported. Following commissioning on the outbreak of war as an engineer by the Royal Naval Air Service Bentley was sent to Gwynnes pumps workshops in Chiswick which were making French Clerget engines under licence. Part of Bentley's duties was to liaise between the squadrons in the field in France and the factory's engineering staff which is how he came to meet Gallop.[5] Clerget were very unwilling to act on Bentley's more important suggestions so the Royal Navy sent Bentley to Humber Limited in Coventry.

At Humber Bentley was given a team to design his own aero-engine. The resulting engine, fundamentally different from the Clerget though—for ease of production—alike in the design of the cam mechanism, was running in prototype by early summer 1916. This was the BR1, Bentley Rotary 1, with the bigger BR2 followed in early 1918. Gallop helped Bentley bring both into service with the Royal Flying Corps.[5]

At the end of hostilities and leaving his commission with the Royal Flying Squadron, Gallop joined the Royal Aero Club.[2]

Bentley Motors[edit]

In 1919 a group was formed in Cricklewood by W O Bentley, a motor vehicles engine designer, pioneer of aluminium pistons who had turned in wartime to aero engines, to build his own cars. With a group including Frederick Tasker Burgess formerly of Humber and Harry Varley formerly of Vauxhall he set about designing a high quality sporting tourer copying a Humber chassis brought there for the purpose.[6]

Gallop joined the team as an engine designer[7] developing the 3,000 cubic centimetres (180 cu in) straight-4 engine. Although large for its day compared to similar engines from Bugatti, it was its technical innovations that were most noticed.[citation needed] One of the first production engines with 4 valves per cylinder,[citation needed] these were driven by an overhead camshaft. It was also among the first with two spark plugs per cylinder,[citation needed] pent-roof combustion chambers,[citation needed] and twin carburetors.[citation needed] It was extremely undersquare, optimized for low-end torque, with a bore of 80 millimetres (3.1 in) and a stroke of 149 millimetres (5.9 in). To increase durability, the iron engine block and cylinder head were cast as a single unit.[citation needed]

Power output was roughly 70 brake horsepower (52 kW), allowing the final Bentley 3 Litre car via a four-speed gearbox to reach 80 miles per hour (130 km/h). The Speed Model could reach 90 miles per hour (140 km/h), while the Super Sports passed 100 miles per hour (160 km/h).[citation needed]

Louis Zborowski[edit]

Louis Zborowski in the driving seat of Chitty Bang Bang 1 at Brooklands

From 1921, Gallop joined "Count" Louis Zborowski at his Higham Park estate. As well as acting as his co-driver in numerous races, and as driver of the team's second Aston Martin in others (i.e.: 1922 French Grand Prix), he also helped Zborowski designed and built four of his own racing cars in the estates stables.

The first car was powered by a 23,093 cc six-cylinder Maybach aero engine and called "Chitty Bang Bang".[8] A second "Chitty Bang Bang" was powered by 18,882 Benz aero engine. A third car was based on a Mercedes 28/95, but fitted with a 14,778 cc 6-cylinder Mercedes aero engine and was referred to as The White Mercedes. These cars achieved some success at Brooklands.

Another car, also built at Higham Park with a huge 27-litre aero engine, was called the "Higham Special" and later "Babs" and was used in J.G. Parry-Thomas's fatal attempt for the land speed record at Pendine Sands in 1927.

In January 1922 Zborowski, his wife Vi, Gallop and Pixi Marix together with a couple of mechanics took Chitty Bang Bang and the White Mercedes across the Mediterranean for a drive into the Sahara Desert, in the tracks of Citroen's kegresse expedition.

In 1923, Zborowski joined with American engineer Harry Arminius Miller, driving the single-seat "American Miller 122" at that year's Italian Grand Prix. He died aged 29 the following year whilst racing for Mercedes-Benz in the same race, after hitting a tree.

Bentley Boys[edit]

At the end of his partnership with Zborowski in 1924, Gallop as a friend of Woolf Barnato rejoined Bentley Motors in 1925 after his friend bought into the business. This led to him both supporting the racing efforts of the "Bentley Boys", as well as developing the engine for the Bentley 4½ Litre.

Blower Bentley[edit]

If Bentley wanted a more powerful car, he developed a bigger capacity model. The Bentley Speed Six was a huge car, which Ettore Bugatti once referred to as "the world's fastest lorry" ("Le camion plus vite du monde").[9][10]

In 1928, Bentley Boy Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin had come to the conclusion that the future lay in getting more power from a lighter model by fitting a supercharger to the 4½ litre Bentley, refusing to adhere strictly to Bentley's assertion that increasing displacement is always preferable to forced induction. Bentley believed that:[11]

When Bentley Motors refused to create the supercharged model, Birkin determined to develop it himself. Mercedes-Benz had been using compressors for a few years.[10]


With financial backing from Dorothy Paget, a wealthy horse racing enthusiast financing the project after his own money had run out,[11][12] Birkin set-up his own engineering works for the purpose of developing the car at Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

With an engine and car to be developed by Gallop, Birkin engaged supercharger specialist Amherst Villiers.[9] Gallop had designed the 4½ Litre Bentley engine with a single overhead camshaft actuating four valves per cylinder, inclined at 30 degrees, a technically advanced design at a time where most cars still used only two valves per cylinder.[13][14]

Bentley refused to allow the engine to be modified to incorporate the compressor. The huge Roots-type supercharger ("blower") was hence added in front of the radiator, driven straight from the crankshaft. This gave the Blower Bentley a unique and easily recognisable profile, and exacerbated its understeer.[13] A guard protected the two carburetters located at the compressor intake. Similar protection was used (both in the 4½ Litre and the Blower) for the fuel tank at the rear, because a flying stone punctured the 3 Litre of Frank Clement and John Duff during the first 24 Hours of Le Mans, possibly depriving them of victory.[15][16] The crankshaft, pistons and lubrication system were special to the Blower engine.[10]

These additions and modifications took the power of the base car from:

  • Unblown: touring model 110 bhp (82 kW); racing model 130 bhp (97 kW).
  • Blower: touring model 175 bhp (130 kW) @ 3,500rpm; racing model 242 bhp (180 kW) @ 2,400 rpm.

The "Bentley Blower" was born,[13] more powerful than the 6½ Litre despite lacking the two additional cylinders.[17] The downside was that Blower Bentleys consume 4 liters of fuel per minute at full speed.[15]


The original Bentley Blower No.1 had a taut canvas top stretched over a lightweight Weymann aluminium frame, housing a two-seat body. This presented a very light but still resistant to wind structure. It was officially presented in 1929 at the British International Motor Show at Olympia, London.[18]

No. 1 first appeared at the Essex six-hour race at Brooklands on 29 June 1929. However, the car initially proved to be very unreliable. "W.O." had never accepted the blower Bentley, but with effective company owner and financial backer Barnato's support,[19] Birkin persuaded "W.O." to produce the fifty supercharged cars necessary for the model to be accepted for Le Mans.

In addition to these production cars built by Bentley Motors, Birkin got Gallop to engineer a racing series of four remodelled "prototypes" plus a spare:

  • No. 1: a track car for Brooklands, but with headlights and mudguards.
  • No's 2, 3 and 4: Road registered (No. 2 - GY3904;[20] No. 3 - GY3905).
  • No.5: a fifth car, registered for the road, assembled from spare parts.


Gallop was thrown from a skidding car in Leatherhead Surrey on 7 September 1960. He was taken to hospital but was found dead on arrival.[3]


  1. ^ "On the 4th inst. at Mena House, Pyramids, Egypt, the wife of Reginald George Gallop of Lavington House, Wimbledon, Barrister-at-law, of a son" Births The Times Saturday, Feb 06, 1892; pg. 1; Issue 33554
  2. ^ a b "All Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates, 1910-1950 results for 1870 Census". Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  3. ^ a b Martin Pugh, ‘Bentley Boys (act. 1919–1931)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, May 2013
  4. ^ "56 Squadron". Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  5. ^ a b W. O. Bentley My Life and My Cars, 1967, London, Hutchinson & Co
  6. ^ Humber Mystery Solved. MotorSport Magazine Page 114, April 2001
  7. ^ William Boddy. An Ullmanism W O Bentley Crib?, MotorSport Magazine, Page 25, June 1964
  8. ^ David Paine (August 2008). "The Zborowski Inheritance". Archived from the original on 6 February 2005.
  9. ^ a b Martin, Fraser (25 July 2010). "1930 Bentley Blower". Car Middle East. Archived from the original on 29 August 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  10. ^ a b c "Bentley Blower : le temps des géants". Classic Drivers (in French). 13 October 2000. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  11. ^ a b Melissen, Wouter (29 May 2008). "Bentley 4.5 Litre 'Blower' Birkin Monoposto". Ultimatecarpage. Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  12. ^ "1927 Bentley 4.5 Liter". Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  13. ^ a b c Cheetham, Craig (2006). Vintage Cars: Five-View Series. MotorBooks International. ISBN 978-0-7603-2572-8.
  14. ^ Gunn, Richard (2006). Supercars : les voitures les plus extraordinaires au monde (in French). Gremese Editore. p. 320. ISBN 978-88-7301-623-6.
  15. ^ a b Purdy, Ken W. (September 1969). "The Big Green Bentley". Boys' Life. 59 (9). pp. 72–73. ISSN 0006-8608.
  16. ^ Chargé, Thierry. "Histoire : Le Mans 1924 - John Duff". (in French). Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  17. ^ "Bentley 4½ Litre and 4½ Litre Supercharged (1926 -1930)". Thoroughbred and Classic cars. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  18. ^ "Bentley 4 1/2-Liter "Blower"". Sports Car Market. 31 August 1995. Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  19. ^ van Damme, Stéphane. "Bentley 4 1/2 Litre". Histomobile (in French). Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  20. ^ "1929→1931 Bentley 4½ Litre Blower". Retrieved 2 March 2012.