1949 BENTLEY MARK VI DROPHEAD COUPE
COACHWORK BY PARK WARD
Registration No. French registered
Chassis No. B294 CF
Engine No. B147C
Midnight blue with blue, grey-piped leather interior.
Engine: Six cylinder pushrod inlet over exhaust valves, 4257cc, twin 1.5in. SU carburettors; Gearbox: manual four speed, synchromesh on top three ratios; Suspension: independent, front by wishbones and coil springs, rear, live axle with half elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: servo-assisted hydraulically operated drum to front, mechanical drum to rear. Right-hand drive.
The Mark VI Bentley was an important element of the Rolls-Royce company's well judged response to the austere times it faced as peace returned after the Second World War. The war years had seen a social revolution and it seemed that the days of the mighty luxury car with coachwork built to the individual order of wealthy patrons had probably gone for ever. But Rolls-Royce was ready. As before, their postwar cars were given a separate cruciform chassis. This massive frame, with its sophisticated independent front suspension, was derived from the company's prewar Wraith and powered by an impressively engineered new six cylinder engine of 4527cc. The great departure was to equip the majority of these chassis with their own four-door, all-steel saloon bodies to produce an automobile of rather wider appeal than before. It was a very successful policy, but there was still a discernable demand from those who could face the now very great cost of bespoke bodywork and that too was met, bare chassis finding their way to coachbuilders such as Park Ward, now a wholly-owned subsidiary. In the 1930s Park Ward, encouraged by Rolls-Royce, had developed their own all-steel body frames to replace traditional timber framing. They continued with this construction under their hand-worked aluminium body panels after 1946.
Built in limited numbers, this delightfully original, well maintained Bentley foursome drophead coupe was consigned as a chassis by the Crewe factory to Park Ward in 1948 and delivered to Mr. Nickerson, its first owner, in the following year. After two British owners it went to France. The present vendor, the fourth owner, purchased the Bentley from its first French owner in 1984. An enthusiast for the marque, he has lovingly preserved, driven and maintained the car. It is a measure of his dedication that in 1986, against the usual fierce opposition, he was awarded the RREC's Tubby Edwards Concours d'Etat trophy for pride of ownership. In 1988 the Bentley was selected to appear in the important Bagatelle Concours. He has preserved a service file for the past 36,000 miles. The record shows it has been regularly serviced by specialists and that at 65,000 miles substantial mechanical and electrical work was done. There is an original owner's handbook, the appropriate centre front foglight, and an original and operational Radiomobile wireless. The dashboard tool kit is almost complete and there is a full complement in the boot. Now with some 100,000 miles recorded, this early and most distinguished Park Ward drophead's elegance is enhanced by the unexpected feature of a full-length tonneau, and is set off by the front wing-mounted spare wheel.
Created at a time when British stylists were struggling to adapt to the new 'pontoon' shapes, these more traditional designs show the traditional coachbuilder at his confident best. They represent excellent value for money and increasingly attract the attention of the discerning enthusiast.
The Bentley will have been driven to the sale from Paris.