1954 BENTLEY R-TYPE HOOPER EMPRESS SPORTS SALOON
COACHWORK BY HOOPER & CO.
Chassis No. B38 YD
Engine No. B184Y
Two tone green with tan leather upholstery
Engine: six cylinder in-line, overhead valve, twin carburettors, 4,566cc, 150bhp at 4,500rpm; Gearbox: automatic; Suspension: front wishbones and coil springs, rear, rigid axle with semi-elliptic rear springs; Brakes: hydraulic front, mechanical rear, servo assisted. Right hand drive.
Following the success of the post-war series Bentley Mk VI, which was in production from 1946 to 1952, a revised, updated, four door, four light standard saloon, the R-Type, was launched in June 1952. The 'R' prefix was derived from the fact that the Mk VI series had at that time reached the chassis letter R. The car was very similar in all aspects to the previous model except for a number of detail changes including a new extended length all-welded construction chassis (as opposed to the previous riveted type) and a number of minor changes to the standard steel body style. Automatic transmission, using the G.M. Hydromatic design, was initially a factory option and then became standard in late 1954.
The standard R-Type produced a lively performance, providing 106mph in silence and 0-50 in 10 seconds with an unladen weight of 37 cwts. As with all Bentleys, the various coachbuilders of the day provided their own specialist bodywork variations and the R-Type on offer today is one of the very rare Empress-bodied cars by the highly respected coachbuilding firm of Hooper & Co.
This Empress was first registered for the road on October 25th 1954 and always resided in the UK until its importation into Florida in early 1986. Little is known of its history in the UK, although it was owned by a Dr. Ashton of Rotherham and was regularly serviced by Kennings of Sheffield, main Rolls-Royce agents. Copies of the maintenance invoices should be available by the time of the sale. In the early 1980s it was registered to an owner in Putney, London. The current owners purchased the car in 1985 from the well known Rolls-Royce and Bentley dealers Frank Dale & Stepsons. Shortly prior to purchase the engine was fully rebuilt with new pistons, rings and bearings fitted and was sold with the recommendation that the cylinder head should be tightened down and the oil changed after 2-300 miles. Furthermore it was suggested that running-in speeds should not exceed fifty mph for the first thousand miles. It is interesting to note that since the car arrived in Florida fourteen years ago, less than 700 miles have been traveled! Indeed the car was only ever used for short journeys in the Palm Beach area, the longest trip being down from the port of entry at Jacksonville.
Today this R-Type would really benefit from either a full restoration or a cosmetic one. Items such as the rubbers have dried out, the varnish on the woodwork needs attention, as does the chromework to the door handles and side mirror. The upholstery is probably original and is showing its age in places, so a potential new owner may wish to replace it with new material. The front windows are electric and of course the back of the car comes equipped with vanity tables, ashtray and lighter. As an elegant coachbuilt Bentley, this vehicle has lots of potential and it is worth noting that in 1996 Christie's sold a restored Empress for $96,000.