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1954 Bentley R-Type 4½-Litre Saloon
Registration no. MRX 196
Chassis no. B170WH
Engine no. B85W

'The Bentley B7 (R-Type) is above all a car de grand luxe et de grand tourisme. It has the dignity and space of a town carriage, yet, in open country, it has all the attributes of a sporting vehicle.' – John Bolster, Autosport.

The policy of rationalisation begun in the late 1930s continued at Rolls-Royce after the war with the introduction of standard bodywork on the MkVI Bentley. Rolls-Royce's first post-WW2 product, the latter was introduced in 1946, a year ahead of the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith which, although mechanically similar to the MkVI, was nevertheless exclusively a coachbuilt car. The new 'standard steel' body - produced by the Pressed Steel Company, of Oxford - was available at first only on the Bentley MkVI, the equivalent Rolls-Royce - the Silver Dawn - not appearing until 1949. A separate chassis was retained, the same basic design being built in three different wheelbase lengths, that of the MkVI (and Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn) measuring 10' exactly. The Crewe-built range featured a new design of independent front suspension, hydraulic front brakes and a new 4,257cc, six-cylinder, 'F-head' (inlet-over-exhaust) power unit. The latter was enlarged to 4,566cc in 1951 while a much-needed improvement to the standard bodywork arrived mid-way through 1952 in the shape of an enlarged boot together with associated alterations to the rear wings and suspension, subsequent models incorporating these changes being known as the R-Type Bentley and E-Series Silver Dawn.

Chassis number 'B170WH' was manufactured in 1954 and, like that tested by Autosport, has the Rolls-Royce/General Motors Hydramatic four-speed automatic transmission that had recently become available as an option (and would be standardised on the successor Bentley S-Series). Writing for a magazine devoted to motor sport, John Bolster might have been expected to decry the presence of automatic transmission in a car carrying the Bentley badge, but far from it. Declaring it to be 'one of the greatest improvements of modern times', Bolster reckoned that the auto 'box added 'greatly to the pleasure of driving and takes all the fatigue out of motoring in London.'

'B170WH' comes with comprehensive records of body and mechanical maintenance for the period 1964 to 2009, mainly with Rolls-Royce/Bentley specialists, the related invoices totalling in excess of £60,000. Major works carried out include a gearbox overhaul at 123,807 miles (in 1998); a total engine overhaul and 'unleaded' conversion at 125,843 miles; and the installation of a higher (14/41) rear axle ratio at 132,023 miles. (The current odometer reading is 136,410 miles). Five new Michelin radial tyres were fitted at 125,622 miles. Noteworthy features include a stainless steel exhaust system, sunroof, James Young spare wheel cover (fitted when new) and a full compliment of original tools.

Benefiting from long-term careful maintenance, the Bentley is said to drive superbly, with all systems – heating, sunroof, central lubrication, etc – functioning as they should. The car is offered with the aforementioned service/maintenance records, old-style logbook, current road fund licence and V5 registration document.

Bonhams 1793
101 New Bond Street
United Kingdom
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Bonhams Collectors’ Car department