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MK VI 4 1/4 litre Drophead Coupe by Franay
Announced in May 1946 and produced from 1946 to 1952 it was also both the first car from Rolls-Royce with all-steel coachwork and the first complete car assembled and finished at their factory. These very expensive cars were a genuine success, long-term their weakness lay in the inferior steels forced on them by government's post-war controls. Chassis continued to be supplied to independent coachbuilders.
Records indicate that Park Ward produced a total of 167 bodies during the years of Mark VI production including dropheads as well as coupés and saloons. As Park Ward was a specialist in drophead coachwork ever since its founding in 1919, it can be safely stated that the majority of Mark VI Bentleys wearing the Park Ward badge were open-bodied cars.
Only one Mark VI chassis was sent to the prominent Parisian coachbuilder Figoni et Falaschi, which was known for its aerodynamic yet graceful designs on Delahayes and Talbot Lagos. This coachbuilder, influenced by advances in aircraft design, became known for its “tear-drop” silhouettes, pontoon wings, wing skirts, steeply raked windscreens, and hardware, which was fitted flush to the body to enhance Figoni’s trademark sleek windswept designs.
This Bentley factory finished car was given the name Bentley Mark VI standard steel sports saloon. This shorter wheelbase chassis and engine was a variant of the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith of 1946 and, with the same standard steel body and a larger boot became the cautiously introduced Silver Dawn of 1949. The same extended-boot modification was made to the Mark VI body in 1952 and the result became known as the R type Bentley.
Mark VI engines and chassis were modified to provide higher performance and sold to be bodied by selected coachbuilders as the first Bentley Continentals, the most expensive production cars in the world and the world's fastest 4/5-seater saloons.
The Mark VI 4 1⁄4-litre used an F-head straight-6 engine 4.3 L (4,257 cc/259 cu in) in size.
In 1951, a 4 1⁄2-litre, 4.6 L (4,566 cc/278 cu in) version of the engine was introduced and then referred to as the big bore engine. A four-speed syncromesh manual transmission was fitted with the change lever to the right of the driver on right hand drive cars and on the column on left hand drive versions.
4 1⁄4-litre cars had chassis numbers from B 1 AJ through B 400 LJ, with the final two letters indicating the series in which it was built. The "big bore" cars serial numbers begin with B 1 MB (although B 2 MD was the first big bore Mark VI built) and ended with B 300 PV (although B 301 PU was the last one built). Each alphabetic series only contained either even or odd numbers, and 13 was always skipped for the odd-numbered sequences/
The 4.3 L was referred to as the 4 1⁄4 L and can be quickly identified from its single exhaust. The 4.6 L is known as the 4 1⁄2 L and features a twin exhaust.
The chassis used leaf springs at the rear and independent coil springing at the front with a control on the steering wheel centre to adjust the hardness of the rear springing by hydraulically adjusting the rear dampers. A pedal-operated central lubrication system allowing oil to be applied to moving parts of the suspension from a central reservoir was fitted. The 12.25 in (311 mm) drum brakes were assisted by the traditional Rolls-Royce mechanical servo.
Towards the end of the war Car Division of Rolls-Royce prepared this postwar car to have its own factory-supplied bodywork, all-steel so it could be exported all over the world. The factory bodies with a Gurney-Nutting-Blatchley refined shape were made by Pressed Steel Ltd of Coventry and sent to the Bentley works at Crewe for painting and fitting out with traditional wood and leather. They featured rear hinged "suicide" doors at the front with concealed hinges, a sliding sunroof, a permanently closed windscreen with a defrosting and demisting unit hidden in the scuttle and an electrically controlled heater beneath the front passenger's seat. Twin screenwipers were fitted and provision was made for the fitting of a radio with a short and flexibly mounted aerial that could be swung up above the centre of the screen.
By the end of 1952 order-books had shrunk and the Mark VI was replaced by the R-Type, featuring an extended boot/trunk, along with other less visible modifications and newly available home-market options, leading up to the introduction of the completely redesigned S series in 1955.
4 1⁄4 L: 4000 (including 832 with coachbuilt bodies)
4 1⁄2 L: 1202 (including 180 with coachbuilt bodies)
Bentley Continental 1950-1951
2 door Bodies Mulliner 1952-1953 BC1A-BC26A 27gab.
A Mark VI chassis (at first referred to within the works as Corniche II) was developed by H I F Evernden and J P Blatchley in 1950 and 1951 carrying a larger engine with a higher compression ratio and modified fuel and exhaust systems, a close ratio gearbox and much higher final drive ratio.
By special arrangement with Bentley 2-door bodies were fitted having a lower frontal area and of significantly lighter construction, the first – made by H J Mulliner – developed in conjunction with Evernden and Blatchley. The first still luxurious car was more than 10% lighter than the standard car. They were the most expensive production cars in the world and the world's fastest 4/5-seater saloons.
These chassis were produced between June 1952 and April 1953 and bear the chassis numbers BC1A to BC26A, with the prototype, totalling 27 cars. The engine compression was reduced on the last 8 cars. The bulk of the chassis were clothed by H J Mulliner but some were bodied in Europe. Only the 27 cars were built before the R designation was added to the chassis series identification.
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