In May 1946 Rolls Royce, owners of Bentley, announced that there subsidiary would be making an all new model known as the Mk VI standard steel sports saloon which would mark a break in several production traditions but which would maintain it’s air of exclusivity by becoming the the most expensive production car and the worlds fastest 4/5 seat saloon.
The novel feature for the marque and indeed the marques owners was the steel body, complete with sliding sunroof manufactured by Pressed Steel Ltd of Coventry which meant a Bentley no longer had to be sent to an independent coach works for a bespoke body before it was sold although that was an option pursued by around 20% of Mk VI customers between 1946 and 1952.
Initially from 1946 to to 1951 these cars were fitted with uprated straight F-head 6 cylinder 4.257 litre / 259 cui of Rolls Royce origin but with Bentley rocker covers. 4 1/4 litre engines were replaced by 4.566 litre / 278 cui 4 1/2 litre motors featuring twin exhausts in 1951.
Rolls Royce never gave away hp figures for it’s motors, but a contemporary report of a vehicle powered by the earlier motor related that top gear provided “flexibility down to 6 mph” and could “climb a hill of 1 in 9 maximum gradient, complicated by bends. A vehicle tested with the later motor was independently tested from rest to 60 mph in 15 seconds with a top speed of 100 mph.
To illustrate just how much demand there was for the Bentley Mk VI standard steel sports saloon a pre owned vehicle report in 1951 observed that a three year old 4 1/4 litre Mk VI with under 10,500 miles on the clock sold brand new for £4038 in 1948 and in 1951 was being offered for sale at £5,335, such was the quality of the car and the post ’39 – ’45 shortage of vehicles in the UK.
Over time the Mk VI’s Achilles Heel manifested itself when the quality of the steels used in the bodywork, proscribed by government edict in the post war aftermath, showed itself to be inferior. As a consequence many surviving Mk VI Bentley’s, like Blue Velvet seen here at the Bristol Classic Car Show, have been fitted with cheerful one off bodies displaying varying degrees of professionalism in their finish. With the loss of the weight of the original steel body one would imagine the performance while accelerating to be quite exhilarating.
In all 4000 4 1/4 litre Mk VI’s like Blue Velvet were built with standard steel sports saloon bodies from 1946 to 1951 with an additional 832 being fitted with bespoke bodies from independent coach builders.
Thanks for joining me on this “Blue Velvet” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a sports pick up from Ford. Don’t forget to come back now !
Brighton Speed Trials Under Threat of Permanent Cancellation !
In their infinite wisdom, Brighton & Hove City Council are seeking to ban the Brighton Speed Trials from 2014.
If you care about speed and or motorsport history, please sign this linked petition to save Brighton Speed Trials in 2014 and beyond.
It’s a faf to Register before signing, but relatively painless compared to loosing the event which has been run with few interruptions since 1905.
You do not need to be resident in Brighton or even the UK to sign.
More on Brighton Speed Trials on this link.
Thanks and please spread the word through whatever social media you have at your disposal.
A tweet on the Save Brighton Speed Trials site this morning says that so far over 10,000 signatures have been received, thanks if you have responded, if not please do so you have until January 23rd, it would be nice to receive 100,000 signatures world wide.