1949 Bentley MkVI 4¼-Litre Countryman Shooting Brake  Chassis no. B441DZ Engine no. B470D
Lot 366
1949 Bentley MkVI 4¼-Litre Countryman Shooting Brake
Coachwork by Harold Radford Registration no. KLO 865 Chassis no. B441DZ Engine no. B470D
Sold for £52,900 (US$ 88,049) inc. premium
Lot Details
1949 Bentley MkVI 4¼-Litre Countryman Shooting Brake
Coachwork by Harold Radford

Registration no. KLO 865
Chassis no. B441DZ
Engine no. B470D


  • '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.

    Although Rolls-Royce retained a separate chassis for its immediately post-war models, the company broke with the coachbuilt tradition by introducing standard bodywork. The 'standard steel' body was available at first only on the MkVI Bentley - the equivalent Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn not arriving until 1949 - though customers could still opt for a coachbuilt alternative if they so desired. Other notable features were independent front suspension and hydraulic front brakes, while powering the range was a new 4,257cc (later 4,566cc) six-cylinder engine featuring inlet-over-exhaust valve gear.

    Delivered on 5th July 1949, this MkVI features woodie-style shooting brake coachwork by Harold Radford Ltd. A West London motor dealer specialising in Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, Harold Radford took the unusual step of setting up as a traditional coachbuilder in the late 1940s, a time when the demand for such products was declining. His first design was for a timber-framed estate car body on the Bentley MkVI chassis. Its manufacture sub-contracted to a small firm called Seary & McCready (later absorbed by Radford) this 'Countryman' model was an immediate success, winning the 1948 Concours d'Élegance at Cannes. The standard Bentley MkVI chassis, radiator grille and bonnet were retained while the scuttle and floor pan were modified. This first version featured visible timber framing and electric front windows and rear blind. There were no rear seats, only a cavernous luggage space behind the front bench. 'A saloon car with exceptional smartness and unusually commodious luggage accommodation' was how its maker described the end result. The rear seats, featuring a 50/50 split, were reinstated on subsequent cars. As one would expect of a coachbuilt, bespoke product, the eight shooting brakes built on the MkVI chassis exhibited detail differences. All had fixed rear windows at first but most were later modified to incorporate a more practical opening window giving better access to the luggage area. Being classed as a commercial vehicle, the Countryman avoided the swingeing 66.66% purchase tax then in force but still sold for £3,530 in 1948, the equivalent of approximately £109,000 at today's prices.

    The Countryman was later refined, becoming in effect an early version of the 'hatchback' concept applied to the standard saloon body on Bentley and Rolls-Royce chassis as well as those of other prestigious makes. Radford exhibited in the coachbuilding section at the London Motor Show from 1951 to 1963, winning numerous awards, and in the 1960s began to reach a wider public with its luxurious Mini conversions. The firm was acquired by H R Owen in the early 1960s.

    The last Radford shooting brake built on the MkVI chassis, 'B441DZ' was first owned by C P Bertioli, Esq of Chislehurst, Kent. The accompanying copy chassis cards list three subsequent owners, the last of whom, Fuller's Ltd, the well-known West London brewer, acquired the Bentley in November 1959. 'B441DZ' subsequently went to the USA where it belonged to the internationally acclaimed French-born interior designer Jean-Charles Moriniere. The current owner purchased the Bentley at auction in the USA in July 2010, at which time it was described as an older restoration that had been meticulously maintained. Furthermore, it was said to be in remarkable condition, benefiting from refinishing of all the woodwork prior to its acquisition by the then owner in 2005. In professional storage since its return to the UK, the car is running well but will, of course, need re-commissioning following some four years of inactivity. All import taxes have been paid. The car is offered with copy chassis cards and V5 registration document. A wonderful opportunity to acquire an historic coachbuilt Bentley of exceptional practicality, ideal for picnics at Goodwood and other prestigious venues.

Saleroom notices

  • We have discovered that the engine number is B328E and not B470D as catalogued.
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