The Bentley Mark VI

The Bentley MKVI continued till 1951 with minor styling changes. About 4,000 were made. Then the engine was enlarged to 4.5L and a twin exhaust system was fitted. This model was a genuine 100mph car and became known as the Big Bore MKVI. About 1,010 were made.

The major criticism of the MKVI was the size of the boot; it was an excellent touring car provided you did not need much luggage so in ’52 a new model was announced. It was a MKVI with a much larger boot and ended up being called an R Type because Jaguar had just introduced a MKVII. Not long afterwards an option of Automatic transmission became available. This model was also fitted with a more efficient cylinder head and was slightly faster than the Big Bore MKVI. About 2,600 were made before they were discontinued in ’55.

Before the war various sporting Bentleys had appeared with streamlined bodies, one had been raced at Brooklands (and later another at Le Mans) so it was felt that a true Grand Tourer was needed. Referred to as the R Type Continental, it was capable of nearly 120 mph and the fastest four seater of its time. 207 were made and almost all survive. HJ Mulliner made its magnificent streamlined body.

In addition to the Standard Steel saloons that were still being sold as “the Silent Sports Car”, about 1000 MKVI’s and R’s were coach built by a variety of companies including Mulliner and Park Ward both owned by R-R.

The Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith was introduced quietly and slightly before the MKVI. It was basically a longer chassis with a de-tuned version of the MKVI engine and was available in chassis form so that the coachbuilders could body it to customer’s requirements. Bentley was not well known in the States and Silver Wraiths were incredibly expensive, so late in the forties, R-R introduced the Silver Dawn that was a Wraith engine in a MKVI with an R-R radiator and a different dashboard.

MKVIs and R’s can be bought for a few thousand pounds if they need work to many tens of thousands if they are in top condition. The cost of parts and the labour to fit them means that it would cost over £100,000 to rebuild a poor/average car to show/rally standard. It pays to be very careful what you buy!