Bentley Mark VI 1948
Coachwork by Park Ward Ltd
Chassis no. B375DZ
Engine no. B437D
Chassis number ‘B375DZ’ was originally ordered by HRH The Prince Regent of Belgium, and to accommodate His Royal Highness’s tall stature was fitted with special front seats.
Copy chassis cards on file record that the car was also equipped with a power operated hood, three loudspeakers and a separate switch on the dashboard for the central driving lamp. The car was collected by the Prince Regent’s chauffeur on 4th August 1949.
The Bentley was next owned by the Comte de Flandres, then Jacques Louis de Samblanx (Brussels), C A Skinner (Kent) and Mr Roy Painter. In 2004 the car commenced restoration at Britannia Motor Engineering of Waltham Cross while in the ownership of Mr Painter, the engine having been rebuilt during Mr Skinner’s ownership. Completed in 2008, work carried out included detailing the engine; a complete overhaul of the brakes and front suspension; new clutch; bare-metal re-spray; re-veneering and re-polishing all woodwork; new carpets; new hood and headlining; and re-Connollising the original leather upholstery. In addition, the car has been fitted with a higher (2.9:1) final drive ratio, while much other detailing has been carried out. Numerous parts invoices are on file and Britannia estimate that circa £30,000 was spent with them on the restoration.
Presented in good condition throughout, this exuberant MkVI soft-top is offered with a most substantial file of history containing the aforementioned copy build sheets, a quantity of expired MoTs, sundry invoices dating back to 1965, various photographs, copy Autocar road test and Swansea V5 registration document.
The policy of rationalisation begun in the late 1930s continued at Rolls-Royce after the war with the introduction of standard bodywork. In a break from the coachbuilt tradition this was made of pressed steel panels welded together. The new ‘standard steel’ body was available at first only on the MkVI Bentley, though customers could still opt for a coachbuilt alternative, such as the car offered here. A separate chassis was retained, the same basic design being built in three different wheelbase lengths, that of the MkVI (and Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn) measuring 10’ exactly. Notable features were independent front suspension and hydraulic front brakes. Powering the range was a new 4,257cc six-cylinder engine featuring inlet-over-exhaust valve gear and breathing through a Stromberg carburettor (Rolls-Royce) or twin SUs (Bentley).
The Autocar magazine was highly impressed with their MkVI test car in the Spring of 1950. ‘Perhaps the outstanding thought from extensive driving of the Bentley MkVI built by the world’s premier car manufacturers, Rolls-Royce, is that it has no single predominant feature but gains its unique position from a combination of superbly matched qualities that raise it above the level of other cars. Years of painstaking research and development with mechanical perfection as the goal show their results unmistakably. Smoothness and quietness and sheer quality are in the superlative.’
Despite the popularity of the ‘standard steel’ body, a coachbuilt alternative remained the preferred choice of many customers. Indeed, anyone desiring a soft-top Rolls-Royce or Bentley had no alternative but to commission one from an independent coachbuilder, there being no factory-built alternative at this time.
The 1948 Bentley MkVI offered here is fitted with drophead coupé coachwork by Park Ward Ltd, which had been wholly owned by Rolls-Royce since 1939.
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