Bentley mark vi

Standard Steel Saloon

The all steel body of an early Mark VI

Bentley Mark VI «standard steel» saloon, rear three quarters

The Bentley R-type replaced the Mark VI towards the end of 1952, inheriting the body shape of the earlier design as far back as the C-pillar. The principal difference was a much larger boot with a larger opening, which reflected changes in car design and usage, especially the key US and «British dominion» export markets, more generally.

Employing its experience with the steel bodies made in short runs since 1936 by then partly-owned subsidiary Park Ward the Car Division of Rolls-Royce offered their lowest priced chassis with a factory-supplied body all-steel so it could be exported all over the world. The factory bodies with a Gurney-Nutting- refined shape were made by Pressed Steel Ltd of Cowley 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 an electric defrosting and demisting unit hidden in the scuttle and a second heater that made use of the coolant and was fitted with an electric fan beneath the left front 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.

Road test

A 4.6-litre, factory bodied car tested by The Motor magazine in 1951 had a top speed of 100 mph (160 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 15.0 seconds. A fuel consumption of 16.5 miles per imperial gallon (17.1 L/100 km; 13.7 mpg‑US) was recorded. The test car cost £4,473 including taxes.

Commercial

The Mark VI was introduced at a time of steel shortage across Europe which translated into a serious shortage of new cars for sale on the UK market. A Used Car report in 1951 of a three-year-old example with 10,450 miles (16,815 kilometres) on the odometer noted that a car which had, when new, retailed for £4,038 including sales taxes, was now offered for sale at £5,335. This was seen as a comment on the quality of the car but also on the continuing shortage of cars for sale.

By the end of 1952 order-books had shrunk and the Mark VI was replaced by the R-Type, featuring an extended boot/trunk supported by an chassis that was extended by six inches behind the rear wheels. In addition, an automatic transmission option was now available, an automatic choke along with other less visible modifications were added and former export-only options were now available to the home-market. The R-type led up to the introduction of the completely redesigned S series in 1955.

Bentley Mark VI Production volumes:

  • 1946-1951 ​41⁄4 L: 4000 (including 832 with coachbuilt bodies)
  • 1951-1952 ​41⁄2 L: 1202 (including 180 with coachbuilt bodies)

Engine

The Mark VI ​41⁄4-litre used an F-head straight-6 engine 4.3 L (4,257 cc/259 cu in) in size. The manufacturer refused to disclose a horse power value for the car (other than Tax Horsepower of 29.4 hp according to the old RAC formula) but an Autocar Magazine road test reproduced in 1950 reported that top gear provided «flexibility down to 6 mph (10 km/h)» and the ability to «climb a hill of 1 in 9 maximum gradient, complicated by bends», all of which supported the manufacturer’s contention that power, along with low speed torque, were adequate.

a 4¼ Litre engine

In 1951, a ​41⁄2-litre, 4.6 L (4,566 cc/278 cu in) version of the engine was introduced. The increase in displacement was accomplished by increasing the bore from 3 1/2 inch to 3 5/8 inch. The later version is sometimes casually referred to as the «big bore» engine, the earlier version as the «small bore» version. The 4 1/2 L version of the engine is as well equipped with a Vokes 30 (later: Vokes 62) full flow oil filter (some earlier 4 1/4 L cars have since been modified to a full flow filtration system).

Carburation in RHD (right hand drive) cars were two horizontal constant-vacuum SU carburetors (type H4 up to B81HP, type H6 from B83 HP on). LHD (left hand drive) cars had a single dual downdraught Stromberg carburetor type AAV26M and a different inlet manifold as fitted in the Rolls Royce Silver Dawn and Silver Wraith.

A four-speed syncromesh manual transmission was fitted in all Bentley MK VI with the change lever to the right of the driver on RHD cars and on the column on LHD versions.

​41⁄4-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 (260 cu in) was referred to as the ​41⁄4 L and can be quickly identified from its single exhaust in RHD cars. The 4.6 L (280 cu in) is known as the ​41⁄2 L and features a twin exhaust in RHD cars. In LHD cars the (much less restrictive) twin exhaust system was only fitted with the introduction of the R-type.
In addition for «standard steel» Mark VI saloons the single hinged ventilation flap centrally mounted on the top of the bonnet, directly ahead of the windscreen was replaced, on later cars, with two hinged ventilation flaps, mounted at or slightly below knee height, one on each side of the bonnet, ahead of the front doors. The oil filler cap is another way to identify engine type; a plastic cap is typical of a «small bore» engine, a metal cap of a «large bore» engine.

Appearances

Moonraker (novel)

«The 1953 Mark VI had an open touring body. It was battleship grey like the old 4½ litre that had gone to its grave in a Maidstone garage, and the dark blue leather upholstery gave a luxurious hiss as he climbed awkwardly in beside the test driver.»

In the early novels Bond’s one true love was the 1933 Bentley 4½ Litre. After this was destroyed, he used his gambling winnings to buy a 1953 Bentley Mark VI with a Coachbuilt, 2 door, open touring body. Author and 007 commentator John Griswold notes that this car would have been fitted with the 4,556 cc engine. Like his previous Bentley, the Mark VI is battleship grey with dark blue leather upholstery. Its time in the novels is brief; consisting of a test drive scene where Bond buys the car on the condition that the test driver brings the vehicle to the ferry terminal at Calais by the following evening. After Moonraker the Mark VI is never mentioned again in Fleming’s fiction.

Trigger Mortis

It would later re-appear in Anthony Horowitz’s 2015 continuation novel Trigger Mortis, set in the aftermath of Goldfinger. In the novel, 007 reflects on being forced to surrender the brand new Mark VI for a week to Q Branch at M’s behest, who had added a few accessories of their own — an alarm button with a geographical position transmitter, run-flat tyres, bullet-proof windows and a secret panel (for concealing his firearm) in the glove compartment. The novel also notes that by the time of its events, 007 had not yet had time to add the Amherst Villiers supercharger that he favored. By the end of the novel, the vehicle’s hidden features save 007’s life after he is ambushed in London by vengeful SMERSH operative, Ivan Dimitrov. Unarmed and held at gunpoint, Bond is saved from the assassin’s first bullet by the car’s bullet-proof door window, which shatters, but provides Bond the opportunity he needs to grab his PPK from the compartment and shoot Dimitrov dead.

Bentley timeline, 1920s–present

Type 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020s
Ownership Bentley Motors Limited(1919–1931) Rolls-RoyceBentley Motors (1931) Limited(1931–1980) Vickers plcRolls-RoyceBentley Motors (1931) Limited(1980–1998) Volkswagen Group(1998–)
Coachbuilder’sopen2/4 seater 3 L 4½ L6½ LSpeed Six
Coachbuilder’slarge salooncoupé orconvertible 6½ LSpeed Six8 L 4L3½ 4¼LMark V Mark VI R S1S2S3 T
Cont Continental S1Continental S2Continental S3
Cars with Bentley own-factory coachwork
Largesaloon Mark VI R S1S2S3 T1 T2 Mulsanne Brooklands Arnage Mulsanne
Turbo R
Coupé Corniche Continental R/S/T Br.
Convertible Corniche Continental Azure
Bentleys on the Volkswagen platform
Largesaloon ContinentalFlying Spur
Coupé Continental GT
Convertible Continental GTC
SUV Bentayga
  • Walter Owen Bentley (founder)
  • A marque of the Volkswagen Group
  • Bentley Boys

Overview

The Bentley Mark VI was announced in May 1946 and produced until 1952. As with all Bentleys produced from 1931 to 2004, the Mark VI was effectively a badge-engineered Rolls-Royce, using inherited or shared Rolls-Royce chassis, and an adapted Rolls-Royce engine. The vehicle was both the first car from Rolls-Royce with all-steel coachwork and the first complete car assembled and finished at their Crewe factory. 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.

The Mark VI 4 ¼-litre used an F-head straight-6 engine 4.3 L (4,257 cc/259 cu in) in size. In 1951, a 4 ¼-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. The chassis used leaf springs at the rear and independent coil springing at the front. A control on the steering wheel centre adjusts the hardness of the rear springing by hydraulically adjusting the rear dampers. The vehicle 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.

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. A 4.6-litre, factory bodied car tested by The Motor magazine in 1951 had a top speed of 100 mph (160 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 15.0 seconds. A fuel consumption of 16.5 miles per imperial gallon (17.1 L/100 km; 13.7 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £4,473 including taxes

Chassis and running gear

The chassis used leaf springs at the rear and independent coil springing at the front. A control on the steering wheel centre adjusts the hardness of the rear springing by hydraulically adjusting the rear dampers. This is done via opening a check valve that provides pressure by diverting transmission oil to the dampers. A pedal-operated central lubrication system type Bijur-Girling allows oil to be applied to moving parts of the suspension from a central reservoir by using a foot pedal. The 12.25 in (311 mm) drum brakes were assisted by the traditional Rolls-Royce mechanical servo at the transmission.

Bentley Continental

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 with a top speed above 120 mph.

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.

References

  1. First Post-War Bentley. The Times, Thursday, May 23, 1946; pg. 7; Issue 50459; col C From our motoring correspondent
    The first post-war Bentley model, known as the 4 ¼-litre Mark VI, will be ready next month. It is an improved version of the 1939 car, and experimental models have been tested for several years, one having covered over 100, 000 miles.
    Modifications include: a new frontal appearance; overhead inlet and side exhaust valves; chromium plated cylinder bores; independent front suspension by helical springs; a new and stronger chassis frame; a divided propeller shaft which eliminates the need for a tunnel in the floor boards; and improved brakes.In the past Bentley Motors have made chassis only but the Mark VI will be sold as a complete four door sports saloon at £2,997 including purchase tax. Other models will be available with coachwork by Park Ward, James Young and H J Mulliner at prices from £3,450 to £3,910. The chassis alone costs £1,785.
  2. Crewe’s Rolls-Royce Factory From Old Photographs by Peter Ollerhead and Tony Flood, republished electronically 2013 by Amberley Publishing of Stroud, Gloucestershire, England
  3. Display Advertising: Announcing Important New Developments The Times, Friday, Sep 19, 1952; pg. 3; Issue 52421; col F
  4. Taylor, James (2008). Original Rolls-Royce & Bentley 1946-65: The Restorer’s Guide to the ‘standard’ saloons and mainstream coachbuilt derivatives (Original Series). Herridge & Sons Ltd., p.29. ISBN 9781906133061.
  5. Nutland, Martyn (2007). . Dorchester, UK: Veloce Publishing, 92. ISBN 978-1-845840-68-6.
  6. (October 10, 1951) «The Bentley Mark VI Saloon». The Motor.
  7. Fleming, Ian (2004). Moonraker. Kent, UK: Penguin Books, pp.243-244. ISBN 978-0-1411-8756-3.
  8. Griswold, John (2006). Ian Fleming’s James Bond: Annotations And Chronologies for Ian Fleming’s Bond Stories. AuthorHouse, p.116. ISBN 978 1 4259 3100 1.
  9. Horowitz, Anthony (2015). «Chapter 3: Back to School», Trigger Mortis (in English). Hachette UK, p.39. ISBN 9781409159155.

References

  1. King, Bernard.L (2008). Bentley Mark VI. Coulsdon, England: Complete Classics. ISBN 978-0-9530451-7-4.
  2. ^
  3. ^ «The Bentley Mark VI Saloon». The Motor. 10 October 1951.
  4. First Post-War Bentley. The Times, Thursday, 23 May 1946; pg. 7; Issue 50459; col C From our motoring correspondent
    The first post-war Bentley model, known as the ​41⁄4-litre Mark VI, will be ready next month. It is an improved version of the 1939 car, and experimental models have been tested for several years, one having covered over 100, 000 miles.
    Modifications include: a new frontal appearance; overhead inlet and side exhaust valves; chromium-plated cylinder bores; independent front suspension by helical springs; a new and stronger chassis frame; a divided propeller shaft which eliminates the need for a tunnel in the floor boards; and improved brakes.In the past Bentley Motors have made chassis only but the Mark VI will be sold as a complete four door sports saloon at £2,997 including purchase tax. Other models will be available with coachwork by Park Ward, James Young and H J Mulliner at prices from £3,450 to £3,910. The chassis alone costs £1,785.
  5. Display Advertising: Announcing Important New Developments The Times, Friday, 19 September 1952; pg. 3; Issue 52421; col F
  6. Taylor, James. Original Rolls-Royce & Bentley 1946-65: The Restorer’s Guide to the ‘standard’ saloons and mainstream coachbuilt derivatives (Original Series). P42ff. Herridge & Sons Ltd., 2008. ISBN .
  7. Taylor, James. Original Rolls-Royce & Bentley 1946-65: The Restorer’s Guide to the ‘standard’ saloons and mainstream coachbuilt derivatives (Original Series). P54ff. Herridge & Sons Ltd., 2008. ISBN .
  8. Taylor, James. Original Rolls-Royce & Bentley 1946-65: The Restorer’s Guide to the ‘standard’ saloons and mainstream coachbuilt derivatives (Original Series). P67. Herridge & Sons Ltd., 2008. ISBN .
  9. «4¼-litre Bentley Mark VI Saloon (road test)». Autocar Road tests compendium. 1950.
  10. Taylor, James. Original Rolls-Royce & Bentley 1946-65: The Restorer’s Guide to the ‘standard’ saloons and mainstream coachbuilt derivatives (Original Series). P24. Herridge & Sons Ltd., 2008. ISBN  ISBN .
  11. Taylor, James. Original Rolls-Royce & Bentley 1946-65: The Restorer’s Guide to the ‘standard’ saloons and mainstream coachbuilt derivatives (Original Series). P27. Herridge & Sons Ltd., 2008. ISBN  ISBN .
  12. Taylor, James. Original Rolls-Royce & Bentley 1946-65: The Restorer’s Guide to the ‘standard’ saloons and mainstream coachbuilt derivatives (Original Series). P29. Herridge & Sons Ltd., 2008. ISBN  ISBN .
  13. Nutland, Martyn (1997), Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, Silver Dawn & Silver Cloud. Bentley MkVI, R-series & S-series, Dorchester, UK: Veloce Publishing, p. 167, ISBN 978-1874105879
  14. Taylor, James. Original Rolls-Royce & Bentley 1946-65: The Restorer’s Guide to the ‘standard’ saloons and mainstream coachbuilt derivatives (Original Series). P28. Herridge & Sons Ltd., 2008. ISBN  ISBN .
  15. ^ «Vintage or Rubbish: reprints of 1951 Used Car tests involving models which by 1971 were seen as classics». Autocar. Vol. 134 (nbr 3909). 25 February 1971. pp. 46–47.
  16. Taylor, James. Original Rolls-Royce & Bentley 1946-65: The Restorer’s Guide to the ‘standard’ saloons and mainstream coachbuilt derivatives (Original Series). P42ff. Herridge & Sons Ltd., 2008. ISBN  ISBN .
  17. Taylor, James. Original Rolls-Royce & Bentley 1946-65: The Restorer’s Guide to the ‘standard’ saloons and mainstream coachbuilt derivatives (Original Series). P67. Herridge & Sons Ltd., 2008. ISBN  ISBN .
  18. Chassis Numbers Booklet Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars Proudly provided by the Rolls-Royce Owners Club of Australia for all Rolls-Royce and Bentley Enthusiasts
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