1951 Bentley MKVI Park Ward Coupe

The arrival of the new Mk VI in 1947 marked several significant milestones for Bentley Motors and its parent company, Rolls-Royce. The Mk VI was their first new automobile since production halted to focus on the war effort in 1940, and it was also the first Rolls Royce/Bentley product produced in the revamped aero-engine factory in Crewe where most of the company’s skilled workforce had moved during the war. The Mk VI was brand new from the ground up, featuring a robust ladder chassis, independent front suspension, and a six-cylinder F-head engine with overhead inlet and side exhaust valves. One of the most significant developments was the new Standard Steel Saloon coachwork, produced for Bentley by Pressed Steel, Ltd. It was the first time in the company’s history that buyers could purchase complete and trimmed coachwork directly from the factory, which allowed for much faster deliveries, making the Mk VI the best-selling model to date, with some 5,201 units produced in total.

While the Standard Steel Saloon dominated the order books, Bentley continued to offer the Mk VI as a chassis only for those clients who preferred the services of outside coachbuilders. Exactly 999, or approximately 20% of total production, went to firms such as James Young, Park Ward, Freestone & Webb, H.J. Mulliner, many of whom had deep ties with Rolls-Royce and Bentley.

Featured here is chassis number B6LHR, one of just five of these elegant fixed-head coupes produced by Park Ward. Accompanying factory records reveal this left-hand-drive car was initially specified for the American market, well-optioned with export bumpers, fog lamps, a medium/long-wave radio, and finished in pale green with matching pale green upholstery. Its intended destination was the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November 1950, but organizers canceled the event, so the build order amended, marking the car for “Export Stock.”

The handsome Bentley quickly found a buyer from Sweden. Stockholm-based dealer A.A. Wiklund handled the purchase for their client, a Rederi AB Gotland, Sweden’s oldest passenger shipping company. It is believed that the car remained with the original owner for only two years before being sold to a Swedish industrialist who kept it for the next 34 years, after which it passed to his wife in 1987. It was then sold to a U.K.-based collector, and by approximately 2003, it came into the care of marque specialists Vantage Motorworks of Miami, Florida. At that time, the Bentley was a well-preserved and unrestored save for one respray. Vantage Motorworks performed a selective refurbishment returning it to its original shade of Pale Green over green hides, finished to their typically high standards. The paintwork remains lovely, with crisp and well-defined lines, excellent panel fit, and outstanding detailing. It rides on proper steel wheels fitted with new, black wall Avon crossply tires and color-keyed wheel covers to complete the elegant, slightly sporting presentation.

The cabin features beautiful green Connolly leather, piped in light gray, and matching carpets and wool headlining. It is beautifully restored and wonderfully inviting following years of gentle use and care. The extensive woodwork on the fascia and door caps has all been refinished and presents beautifully. Controls and switchgear are correct items, there is a driver-operated rear sunshade, and the radio is original. Air conditioning has been discreetly integrated, making this an enjoyable and usable motorcar in a wide range of conditions.

Under the bonnet sits the original 4.25-litre inline-six, as confirmed by the chassis card. It is tidy and well presented, showing signs of use while remaining clean and orderly. Fittings are primarily period-correct, including the 2-bbl Stromberg Aerotype carburetor as fitted to LHD models. A modern style Sanden air conditioning compressor is about the only significant deviation from stock.

Since its debut at the 2005 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, this handsome and sporting Bentley has lived a relatively quiet life. It remains in excellent condition, is an ideal pick for RROC touring events, and would undoubtedly hold pride of place in virtually any collection.


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