1949 Bentley MKVI Special
£77,250 | Location: United Kingdom
The Bentley MK VI has been the basis for many a specials over the years; several we have been fortunate enough to sell, and Bentley, as a marque, is a perfect and appropriate canvas to create some extraordinary motorcars.
Ray Roberts documents this extremely well in his book 'Bentley Specials & Special Bentleys'. Covering specials from W.O Bentleys start, up to the cars of the 1990s when the book was published. He documents Specials by 'The Professionals'; Tim Abbott, Bradley Bros, The Lawrence Specials etc etc, but also Specials by 'The Amateurs'; Harry Rose, 'Rusty' Russ-Turner. All amazing cars and stories - and well worth a read!
The Amateurs were seen by R.Roberts to be slightly more impressive than the 'cut & shut' jobs that some cars were like, and by documenting these builds it increased these cars worthiness of wearing the Bentley badge. Our car is featured in his book having been built on a 1949 chassis B349DZ, with correct engine B424D, gearbox & chassis. She till wears her original number 4951 JN. Nicely enough, the car has 1 registered keeper on the log book, Mr. Smith, who built the car with his father in period - and what a good job they did!
Like many Bentley Specials, when being built they inserted 12" into the front box section behind the front wheels, whilst taking out the same from just behind the rear cruciform. This ensured that all the original pedal, servo, and rear gearbox mountings are retained as well as the 10' 0" wheelbase. Front springs are modified by the removal of one quarter coils, and the rear springs reset with 1.5" camber, the propeller shaft is shortened and the drag link lengthened.
It looks the part and a Derby handbrake was fitted on the outside, much nicer we think than the umbrella handbrake on the MK VI as a standard car and much more suiting the the design the Smiths chose. The existing steering column was retained by fitting a base to change the angle correctly enough to be comfortable whilst driving.
A substantial laminated ash body frame was constructed, skinned in aluminium and covered in padded 'Everflex'. Derby front seats were used and Derby bonnet. All in all a very well put together example.
Driving it around town, and on longer journeys too she is sweet as a nut and such pleasure to drive. As Ray Roberts put it: "Owners & builders J.R. and N.R. Smith are to be congratulated on the end product, an excellent sports car, good for another 40+ years or even more". A high appraisal. and what's more, in 1986, at BDC Kensington Gardens Concours, she was awarded the 'Highly Commended Award'.
A nod to the Cricklewood Bentley's of the 1920's, they chose well in the colour department, with dark green for the painted alloy bonnet, similar for the Everflex padding to the bodywork, with matching leather to the seats and door cards and matching carpets all rounded off with a lovely light wooden fascia - quite the place from which to enjoy driving your Bentley sports
With a sublime engine, spinning up through the gears is a joy (by the way the gearbox is heavenly, like a knife through butter) and you have the most rapturous exhaust 'bark' following you through the glades!
She's very practical too, for behind the seats there is a substantial luggage area, covered up by the tonneau, and the wind deflectors, fitted to the windscreen gives you a little rest from the buffeting when on longer journeys. So touring as a snitch, as shown the GB sticker on the spare wheel, for she has been used for this purpose on many an occasion.
She's now much as she would of been after being built as condition, as shown in the photographs is 'mint'. A great car, priced incredibly well.