CC9 Bentley Mk VI

Descended from the Bentley Mk V, production of which had ceased after only a few had been completed due to the outbreak of the second world war, the Mk VI and the 40/50 Silver Ghost, are arguably, the two most important models built by Rolls-Royce.

The Bentley Mk VI is an important model for many reasons, the major one being that the company’s first post WWII product was a complete car – the Bentley and Rolls-Royce works in Manchester, Derby and Cricklewood only having built chassis hitherto, the bespoke coachwork being provided exclusively by outside coachbuilders.

Designed in-house, what we now refer to as the standard steel sports saloon, the contract to build was awarded to Pressed Steel at Cowley in Oxfordshire much to the disappointment of one coachbuilder who had offered an alternative design. The close co-operation between North London based Vanden Plas and the chassis maker, went back to vintage days and continued throughout the 1930s, producing large numbers of tourer, drophead coupe and saloon bodies for “Bentley - The Silent Sports Car”. Also known as the “Rolls-Bentley” both within the works and by the public at large, they were designed and built at Derby by Rolls-Royce, following their take-over of the ailing Bentley company in 1931.

5,208 of the model were built over a six year period with the first few deliveries being made in the closing months of 1946 and the last in October 1952. No fewer than 4,190 cars left the new Rolls-Royce car production plant at Crewe in Cheshire with the standard steel body; shareholders would have been well pleased with this result as the profit margin on the complete car was far higher than on a chassis alone. Nevertheless, 1,018 customers opted for coachwork by one of the dwindling number of independent coachbuilders and the work of 39 of them graced the Mk VI chassis. Perhaps as a consolation prize, even Vanden Plas were specified as the coachbuilder for 21 Mk VIs - mainly sold by the London dealer, Jack Barclay.

Probably due to the poor quality steel available here immediately after the war, many cars have subsequently been re-bodied as specials, often on shortened chassis. Nearly 400 examples have been recorded to date and illustrations of a few of the more interesting are included in the book.

Like all the books in the Complete Classics series, within CC9, every car is listed with delivery date, engine number, original colour scheme (in the case of the standard steel cars), customer name, country of delivery, details of where the cars are now and information on previously published photographs of the individual cars. The book is profusely illustrated with photographs of just about every design that appeared on the Mk VI chassis, many from the personal collection of Professor Bradford Powers in the United States.

Published January 2008. The price inclusive of postage and packing is £30.50 (to U.K. addresses), £33.50 (to European) and £37.00 (rest of the world). Copies can be signed by the author, if desired!

Additions/Updates
140408 p20 - It is now known that Handbook reference IX was first issued sometime in 1949 and as listed, was reprinted June 1952
140408 p29 - for some inexplicable reason, the export figures for the Bentley R-Type were included in the first paragraph. Mk VI cars exported totalled 946 which is 18% of production
140408 p101 - Chassis B6CF is with Nigel Gee and now registered 1122NG - which effectively clears note 016 on p427 140408 p159 - Chassis B163EW is now known to have been registered KUV643 - which effectively clears note 060 on p429
140408 p161 - Chassis B211EW was originally delivered to Frank Burnett and is now known to be stored in GBR with Leggett
140408 p171 - Chassis B200FV was in SWE '71
140408 p185 - Chassis B337FU was in USA '04 with Medeiros
140408 p239 - Chassis B342LJ was registered 2371WE between NRA1 and 446EVE
140408 p267 - Chassis B24NZ was registered JMH38 between MLY22 and 55349W
140408 p291 - Chassis B130PV was registered HNR503, not HUR503
140408 p422 - For OTV69 read OTV96
140408 p428 - Add unknown cars, DLL884 a 1948 made chassis with R-Type engine and wearing a Hofmann special tourer body - offered by Hofmanns of Henley January '08 and CJH11K offered by Gullwing Motors of New York February '08 041112 Chassis B389DZ wore a later reg'n ESV711 prior to sale in HOL in 2010