1952 Bentley MkVI 4½-Litre Coupé Coachwork by Hooper & Co Registration no. XSU 359 Chassis no. B287NY Engine no. B393N
'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. 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.' The Autocar. The policy of rationalisation begun in the late 1930s continued at Rolls-Royce after the war with the introduction of standard bodywork on the MkVI Bentley. In a break from the coachbuilt tradition this 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. 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 included 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). The decision to offer a complete car with 'in house' bodywork had been dictated by harsh economic reality. 'Export or die' was the catch phrase of the late 1940s and the manufacture of standardised, steel-bodied cars was deemed essential to selling in sufficient quantities to overseas markets. Despite the misgivings of traditionalists, exports rose steadily and when the home market stabilised, the classically styled 'standard steel' bodywork proved equally acceptable, making up 80% of total production of this first post-war Bentley. Nevertheless, some 20% of customers opted for a coachbuilt alternative, such as the car offered here. Indeed, anyone desiring a soft-top Rolls-Royce or Bentley had no alternative but to commission one from an independent coachbuilder, there being no factory-built alternative at this time. One of the prettiest bespoke offerings on the Bentley chassis was Hooper & Co's 'razor edge' two-door coupé, designed by the firm's managing director, Osmond Rivers. Only seven of these cars were built, 'B287NY' being the last. It is believed that only three survive, this being the only one in the United Kingdom. Having had only a handful of owners, 'B281NY' spent part of its life the USA where it was owned by the Mayor of Treasure Island City, Florida, Mr Walter Stubbs. After returning to the UK at the end of the 1980s, the car was offered for sale by marque specialists, P & A Wood. The current vendor bought the Bentley at this time and subsequently had it treated to a complete 'body off' restoration, commenced by Alpine Eagle in 2005, which included the engine, gearbox, drive train, bodywork, interior trim and paintwork. Finished in 2007, 'B287NY' was shown for the first time in many years at the R-REC Annual Rally where it placed second in the concours, beaten only by a very pretty R-Type Continental. Since returning to the UK the car has covered fewer than 1,500 miles, most of which have been since restoration. 'B2B7NY' is regularly serviced and maintained regardless of cost by Alpine Eagle and is described by the vendor as in excellent condition, driving superbly and effortlessly, ready to go touring. Offered for sale at a fraction of the cost of restoration, 'B287NY' comes complete with a comprehensive tool kit, including large and small tools, an original handbook, radiator mascot and 'town cap'. Accompanying documentation includes sundry restoration invoices, old-style logbook, current MoT/tax and Swansea V5.