Country Style Cars

A Brief History of our 1952 Bentley Mark VI

The Bentley Mark VI was the first post-war luxury car from Bentley. Its appearance in 1946 marked a radical change in working practice for Rolls-Royce.
For the first time in the company's history not only was a chassis and engine being combined on one site, but the car was being clothed there too. Thus, for the first time, a Rolls-Royce or Bentley could take to the high-way as soon as it had left the factory gates. The coachwork was produced at Pressed Steel's factory to a design and to specifications from Rolls-Royce and then delivered as a shell to the factory. The next step was to fit the body to the chassis followed by painting and fitting the chrome parts and the lights. After this an interior was fitted which could stand comparison with almost any high-class work from the coachbuilders.

The lines of the standard steel coachwork of the Mark VI looked to some extent like the last bodies, which had been created by Park Ward immediately before the outbreak of the war. The four-door body was compact and well balanced.Headlamps were no longer individual units, but integrated into the front wings. A sunroof (which later became standard) and rear wheel spats could be ordered as extras.

The car's interior offered seats and door panels covered with finest leather which was supplied by Connolly; undisputably the Empire's finest tanners of motor hide.

Trimmed with leather, too, were the woollen carpets of matching colour. The wooden facia and the door cappings showed a high-gloss walnut veneer. The sales brochure called the new creation the "Standard Steel Sports Saloon".

The Marl VI became the most successful Bentley model that Rolls-Royce ever built- and more successful too than any product from the time when Bentley had been an independent company. Until 1952 it was built almost unchanged other than the engine upgrade.

Roughly one-fifth of the 5,200 Bentley Mark VI's built did not receive a standard body, but individual coachwork. After all, a considerable number of buyers could still be expected to prefer a body built and prepared just for them.

Not before 1949 was the first left-hand drive Mark VI to be purchased. During previous times export efforts had mainly concentrated on the countries of the British Empire.

The Mark VI used an F-head straight-6 engine 4.3 L (4257 cc/259 in³) in size. In 1951, a 4.6 L (4566 cc/278 in³) version of the engine was introduced. A four speed syncromesh manual transmission was fitted with the change lever to the right of the driver on right hand drive cars and on the column on left hand drive versions. The 4.3 L was referred to as the 4¼ L with a single exhaust and the 4.6 L as the 4½ L with a twin exhaust.

The chassis used leaf springs at the rear and independent coil springing at the front with a control on the steering wheel centre to adjust the hardness of the rear springing. A central lubrication system allowing oil to be applied to moving parts of the suspension from a central reservoir was fitted. The 12.25 in (311 mm) drum brakes were assisted by the traditional Rolls-Royce mechanical servo.

The factory bodies were made by Pressed Steel Ltd of Coventry and sent to the Bentley works at Crewe for painting and fitting out with traditional wood and leather. They featured rear hinged "suicide" doors at the front and a sliding sunroof.

The Mark VI was introduced at a time of steel shortage across Europe which translated into a desperate shortage of new cars for sale on the UK market. A Used Car report in 1951 of a three year old example with 10,450 miles (16,815 kilometers) on the odometer noted that a car which had, when new, retailed for £4,038 including sales taxes, was now offered for sale at £5,335. This was seen as a comment on the quality of the car but also on the continuing shortage of cars for sale.