1948 Bentley MkVI 4¼-Litre Drophead Coupé  Chassis no. B99AJ Engine no. B179A

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Lot 434
1948 Bentley MkVI 4¼-Litre Drophead Coupé
Coachwork by I Wilkinson & Son Ltd Registration no. HXN 10 Chassis no. B99AJ Engine no. B179A

Sold for £ 43,700 (US$ 54,758) inc. premium
1948 Bentley MkVI 4¼-Litre Drophead Coupé
Coachwork by I Wilkinson & Son Ltd

Registration no. HXN 10
Chassis no. B99AJ
Engine no. B179A

Footnotes

  • 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. 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.

    In a break from the coachbuilt tradition the new standardised body was made of pressed steel panels welded together. It 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).

    The decision to offer a complete car with 'in-house' bodywork had been dictated by harsh economic reality. 'Export or die' was the watchword of the late 1940s and the manufacture of standardised steel-bodied cars was essential to selling in sufficient quantities to overseas markets where the environment was inappropriate for the traditional coachbuilt body, with its ash framing and aluminium panels.

    Nor were any of the established coachbuilders capable of making the costly investment in new plant and equipment to produce standardised bodywork, so Rolls-Royce established production facilities in which bodies were built to their exacting standards by one of the leading experts in this form of construction, the Pressed Steel Company. Additionally, facilities had to be installed at the Crewe factory for the high-quality interior trim, woodwork and paintwork that set Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars apart from the products of lesser companies. 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.

    The Autocar magazine was highly impressed with their MkVI test car in the Spring of 1950. '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.'

    With the passage of time many MkVIs have lost their original bodywork, in many cases because it had deteriorated beyond economical repair. This particular example, chassis number 'B99AJ', has been re-bodied with drophead coupé coachwork by I Wilkinson & Son Ltd of Derby, the transformation being carried out as part of a full restoration undertaken during 2010/2011. The interior upholstery and convertible hood are the work of D Beswick, also of Derby. Related invoices on file total some £50,000. Described by the private vendor as in generally excellent condition, starting readily, running smoothly and with no smoke or unusual noises, the car is offered with the aforementioned invoices, (copy) old-style logbook and V5 registration document.
Contacts
1948 Bentley MkVI 4¼-Litre Drophead Coupé  Chassis no. B99AJ Engine no. B179A
1948 Bentley MkVI 4¼-Litre Drophead Coupé  Chassis no. B99AJ Engine no. B179A
1948 Bentley MkVI 4¼-Litre Drophead Coupé  Chassis no. B99AJ Engine no. B179A
1948 Bentley MkVI 4¼-Litre Drophead Coupé  Chassis no. B99AJ Engine no. B179A
1948 Bentley MkVI 4¼-Litre Drophead Coupé  Chassis no. B99AJ Engine no. B179A
1948 Bentley MkVI 4¼-Litre Drophead Coupé  Chassis no. B99AJ Engine no. B179A
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