'Perhaps the outstanding thought from extensive driving of the Bentley MkVI built by the world's premier car manufacturers, Rolls-Royce, is that it has no single predominant feature but gains its unique position from a combination of superbly matched qualities that raise it above the level of other cars.' - The Autocar magazine, April 1950.
The policy of rationalisation begun in the late 1930s continued at Rolls-Royce after the war with the introduction on the MkVI Bentley of standard bodywork, which in a break from the coachbuilt tradition was made of pressed steel panels welded together. Rolls-Royce's first post-WW2 product, the MkVI was introduced in 1946, a year ahead of the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith. Although mechanically similar to the MkVI, the latter was exclusively a coachbuilt car, the first 'standard steel' Rolls-Royce, the Silver Dawn, not appearing until 1949. Thus the new 'standard steel' body was available at first only on the MkVI Bentley, though customers could still opt for a coachbuilt alternative. A separate chassis was retained, the same basic design being built in three different wheelbase lengths, that of the MkVI (and Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn) measuring 10' exactly. Notable features were independent front suspension and hydraulic front brakes. Powering the range was a new 4,257cc six-cylinder engine featuring inlet-over-exhaust valve gear and breathing through a Stromberg carburettor (Rolls-Royce) or twin SUs (Bentley).
For all their many virtues, the 'Silent Sportscar' and its post-WW2 successor, the MkVI, seem to some Bentley enthusiasts to lack the character of their Cricklewood-built predecessors - not for these types the comfort of being wafted along in complete silence at 90mph! The post-WW2 era has seen prices of genuine vintage Bentleys rise ever higher to levels well beyond the reach of all but the wealthiest. This fact and the absence of anything remotely resembling its vintage touring models from the post-war Bentley range, has meant that enthusiasts with a yen for stripped-down, wind-in-the-hair excitement had little choice but to opt for a conversion. Fortunately there has for many years been a steady supply of 'standard steel' saloons too badly corroded to warrant restoration, thus providing suitable chassis for transformation into something more exciting. There have been countless such 'specials' created by enthusiastic private owners on the MkVI chassis, while over the years a number of specialist coachbuilders have offered variations on the theme.
This particular example is the work of its enthusiast owner, who has been building MkVI specials for over 30 years. The car was purchased as a rolling chassis around four years ago and has been fitted with a Bentley T2 6¾-litre V8 engine and matching automatic gearbox. It retains the standard wheelbase and its original Bentley front bulkhead and cruciform bracing. The body's design was inspired by the work of the French coachbuilder Figoni & Falaschi, whose dropheads on Delahaye chassis in the late 1940s are considered by many to be the most classically beautiful examples of this type of coachwork, with the 1947 and 1948 models most admired. Industrialists, movie stars, politicians and royalty were typical customers.
A high quality glassfibre construction, the body is mounted on a bespoke galvanised sub-frame that bolts directly to the original body mounts on the chassis. Softer road springs have been fitted that better suit the lighter coachwork. Other noteworthy features include a 20-gallon fuel tank, leather upholstery, Wilton carpeting, electric windows and side impact bars in the doors. The project was completed in 2011.
Finished in Burgundy/silver with red interior trim, this unique and most stylish Bentley special is offered with old-style logbook, current road fund licence, MoT to October 2014, Swansea V5 document and a photographic record of its construction.