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Lot 421: Bentley MkVI 4¼-Litre Drophead Coupé

Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motor Cars and Automobilia, Bonhams (19 June 2010)

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 1949 Bentley MkVI offered here is fitted with drophead coupé coachwork (design no. 65) by Park Ward Ltd, which had been wholly owned by Rolls-Royce since 1939. Chassis number 'B470DA' was originally ordered by J E Payne, Esq, of P Payne & Sons Ltd and is the penultimate example (body no. B655) of a mere 23 built in this particular style between 1947 and 1949. The car is understood to have been restored prior to its acquisition by the immediately preceding owner, who acquired it circa 1990/91, receiving new maroon leather upholstery and a new hood, and being repainted in grey over silver. Previously registered 'VSU 684', the Bentley was purchased by the current owner in 2008 and is described as in generally good condition. The car is offered with MoT to October 2010 and Swansea V5 registration document.

Lot Details
Auction Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motor Cars and Automobilia
Bonhams, Rockingham Castle, Northamptonshire
TypeCar
Lot Number421
Estimate£50000-£60000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£46000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£52100
Year1949
Condition rating0
Registration numberLTO 477
Mileage-
Chassis numberB470DA
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors