Aiming for success, Bentley Motors Limited did just that with the Mark VI. It was the automaker’s first post-World War II luxury car and was also the first vehicle from Rolls-Royce (which had purchased Bentley in 1931) with all-steel coachwork. It was also the first complete car assembled and finished at its factory in Crewe, England. In all, nearly 5,200 Mark VIs were built between 1946 and 1952.
The Bentley Mark VI was based on the 1939 Park-Ward-designed Mark V. Its engine and shorter wheelbase and chassis were variants of the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith. Prior to 1949, all models – including this one – were right-hand drive and right-side floor shift, ideal for the British market. This particular Bentley is estimated to be 1 of only 1,000 Mark VIs sent to an individual coachbuilder, in this case, James Young LTD In Bromley, England. James Young LTD was bought in 1937 by Rolls-Royce and Bentley dealer Jack Barclay LTD, which is regarded as the world’s largest and oldest Bentley dealership. Under Barclay’s control, he would convince Scotsman A. F. McNeil to leave J Gurney Nutting & Co and become the chief designer of James Young LTD. McNeil’s influence would be used greatly on these particular Mark VIs, as they enjoyed extra attention to detail to satisfy an exclusive clientele.
Sporting an older comprehensive restoration of the exterior and interior that shows its age in spots around the body, it wears a lavish light metallic blue paint that helps encapsulate the elegance of the Bentley logo. The front end is outfitted with headlights integrated into the front fenders, driving lights, and a single Pilot Ray light. The rear bustled back trunk is nicely sculpted into the body and evenly flows with the rest of the body. No doubt a noticeable feature, the suicide doors add to the dramatic flare of the vehicle when fully opened. The interior is outfitted with new carpets throughout, as well as new leather upholstery on the seats.
Under the bonnet lies an F-head six-cylinder 4.3-litre engine with twin SU carburetors. Mechanically, it has been gone through to ensure it is in proper working order, but the aesthetics have been untouched, as surface rust and patina can be seen throughout the engine bay. An interesting configuration, it comes with a right-hand drive and right-hand manual transmission floor shift that will make you feel as if you were driving in England.
Many Mark VI Bentleys have not survived to the present day largely due to their poor steel quality, imposed on the automaker by governmental postwar controls, which resulted in rust. Affixed to the running board of the passenger side is the famous Jack Barclay LTD plate that reminds us that this Bentley has passed through the hands of some important collectors. Now offered from a private Midwest collection, it would make for a wonderful historic touring vehicle or as a leisure weekend driver when one wants to experience the feel of a right-hand drive, right-hand shift British automobile.