Following World War II, Bentley, like all automotive manufacturers, got back to work building cars for the public. The first was the Mark VI, and it was the first car built entirely in-house by Rolls-Royce/Bentley. This 1949 Bentley Mark VI sports saloon offers a wonderful Old World look with enough performance to make it entertaining, even today.
There's no mistaking the swoopy bodywork of a high-end British automobile, and the folks at Bentley were at the top of their game when this car was built. The all-steel bodywork was conservative, yes, but with the elegant black paint job, it becomes dramatic and elegant as well. Proportions are ideal, with a bit of pre-war styling in the fenders to go with the all new greenhouse, a look that would set the standard for another two decades. Restored several years ago, it still looks quite good, although its show days are probably over, at least for now. On the other hand, I can think of quite a few brides who would love to have this car ferry them to their weddings, so the look is still quite compelling. Fit and finish are typically great and the doors close with a final-sounding thunk that only comes from old world craftsmanship. The chrome grille is familiar and makes this car easy to identify, even at a distance, and the rest of the polished trim remains in nice condition as well.
The interior offers a uniquely British combination of luxurious and sporting. Bucket seats for front seat passengers are trimmed in fresh, soft dark-red vinyl and while there are a few signs of minor use inside the luxurious cabin, it has a wonderfully inviting look. The wood trim you see is real wood, beautifully varnished for a soft glow and the handsome Smiths instruments are set into a shiny panel of burled walnut. The steering wheel is on the correct or incorrect inside, depending on whom you ask, but that's about the only concession to right-hand-drive this car makes, so you'll find it easy to get acclimated. There's a heating unit stashed under the dash, and even though it's not working at the moment, it might be a good thing to have to make this a year-round cruiser. Overhead there's an original, taut headliner, the carpets below are newer and very plush, and as you'd expect, the back seat is beautifully trimmed and very luxurious. The trunk is big enough to carry a weeks' worth of luggage and it's neatly outfitted with matching red carpets.
The Mark VI used a 4.25 liter inline-six for power, although Rolls-Royce/Bentley never said exactly how much power it was. The engine is smooth and torquey, making the stately sedan feel agile in traffic and never like it puts a tire wrong. Properly maintained, these are reliable powerplants, so don't worry about the rumors. The intake sound from the twin SU carburetors and incredibly intricate mechanisms under the hood is a big part of why Bentleys remain so popular with driving enthusiasts. It's impossibly smooth and offers just the right growl from the single exhaust pipe out back. The transmission is a 4-speed manual, which only adds to the car's sporting character and the rear end is geared such that this is a superlative highway cruiser. Brakes are also commendably effective and it sits regally on a set of wide whitewall tires with Bentley wheel discs in their centers.
This is a wonderful car to drive, and at this price it may also offer an opportunity, because, as I said, there are a lot of weddings looking for a special vehicle. What could be more special than a vintage Bentley? Call today!