Up the hill and back at Goodwood
A particular treat for William this year was the invitation to drive the 1936 Pacey-Hassan Special at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. I swung by to say hello to William before I tackled the Hill Climb myself behind the wheel of the McLaren 720S.
“I was nervous enough, even with the most advanced systems on the planet working hard beneath the bodywork, and when William invites me to clamber into the 230bhp Pacey-Hassan to try it out for size, I physically fear for him. But, this is William Medcalf we’re talking about here, and those who know him will understand that little, if anything, fazes him. So, as William sat on the start line of the iconic Hill Climb, little did he know what was in store. The inimitable Bentley single-seater rocketed to the top of the climb, crossing the line at a show-stopping 100mph, but that’s not all, “Pulling up at the top of the hill next to Nick Heidfeld in his Formula E racer, and then going for a coffee to compare notes afterwards, was a bit surreal,” says William, “Once again Goodwood put on a brilliant show. It was a fantastic weekend.”
The story of the Pacey-Hassan is one of utter magic. As one of the greatest Bentley me-chanics of his time, Walter Hassan was a man in high demand. When Bentley was sold in 1932, Woolf Barnato, one of the esteemed Bentley Boys, asked Hassan to remain with him and work exclusively on his cars. As such, Barnato had Hassan build a mammoth 8-litre Bentley Brooklands outer-circuit special, later coined the Barnato-Hassan, in order to break the speed record at Brooklands. It was then in 1936 that Bentley racer and owner, Bill Pacey, ‘borrowed’ Hassan to build a 4 1/2 litre version along the same lines for himself to race at weekend competitions. And so, the Pacey-Hassan was born.