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Lot 074: Bentley Mk VI Mulliner Saloon

Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (16 May 2012)

"The Bentley Mark VI 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." Autocar, Spring 1950. Launched in 1946, the MkVI was the first post-war Bentley to come out of the Rolls-Royce factory in Crewe  which had been flat out for the previous six years making Merlin engines for the war-winning Spitfire. Power came from a beautifully smooth 4.25-litre straight six engine with twin SU carbs and aluminium cylinder head that was good for 95mph. Drive was sent to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox (floor-mounted to the right of the driver) with single plate clutch. Servo assisted drum brakes provided the stopping power while suspension was independent with coil springs. The MkVI was eventually replaced in 1952 by the long booted R-Type saloon. Most of the 5,200 MkVI models produced were factory-fitted with a Standard Steel Saloon body that cost 2,997 at launch, but around 20 per cent were sent out in chassis form to be individually bodied by specialist coachbuilders such as HJ Mulliner, Park Ward and James Young with prices from 3,500 to 4,000. The chassis alone cost 1,785. This particular car is one of around 100 Mulliner-bodied MkVI saloons with the graceful semi-razor edge styling that was just coming into fashion at the time. Considerably lighter and stiffer than the Standard Steel Saloon, it benefitted from the aircraft construction techniques that Mulliner had perfected during the war years, with much of the framework in cast aluminium and most of the outer panels in aluminium sheet. As the original factory build sheets confirm, JWR 690 was supplied new in November 1949 to JHW Walker & Sons of Dewsbury. Other documents show that in 1955 ownership transferred to Mr AJ Walker of Falmouth (presumably one of the aforementioned 'Sons') and it was to remain in Cornwall until at least 1964, covering some 21,700 miles up to this date as some detailed notes in the original owner's handbook reveal. The subsequent history of the car is unknown but by 1998 it was owned by a gentleman in Carmarthen from whom the current vendor acquired it in 2003. A retired engineer with some nine previous Rolls-Royce and Bentley restorations to his credit, he embarked on a full restoration of the car which was to take around five years to complete and is recorded on many photographs in the history file. This included a total body rebuild and bare metal repaint in silver; a full mechanical overhaul; new wiring loom; new chromework; interior woodwork refinished; maroon leather upholstery refurbished etc. Since the restoration was completed the car has only covered some 2,000 miles and it remains in fine condition today. The vendor states that: It drives extremely well, feeling lively and responsive and needs no attention for extensive touring. It certainly performed beautifully when we were treated to a lengthy test drive on the occasion of our visit to take these photographs. MOT'd and taxed until July, it comes with the aforementioned photographs, handbook and paperwork, many bills for the restoration, all tools both large and small, wheel changing kit and, most unusually, the original typed Mulliner handbook for the bodywork explaining how all the features work, including the electrically operated blind in the rear window and the roller shutter in the boot, which both still operate perfectly. Due to be driven some 100 miles to the sale, this lovely car is only reluctantly being sold to fund yet another rebuild of a Bentley MkVI convertible.

Lot Details
Auction Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Easters Court, Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 0DE
Lot Number074
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)£32000
Condition rating
Registration numberJWR 690
Chassis numberB299EW
Engine numberB399E
Engine capacity (cc)4256
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors