1950 Bentley MkVI Manual Sports Saloon
owned by Viscount Rothermere; restored by Ristes in 1982; interesting
history from new; on offer here from a deceased estate
As copies of the factory build sheets confirm, this
splendid Bentley MkVI Sports Saloon was built to order for Viscount Rothermere
of Warwick House, St James’s SW1 and was finished in Black Belco with a blue
leather interior. He took delivery in December 1950 when the car was registered
as LXC 708, a transferable number which it retains to this day.
One of the most powerful men in the country, Rothermere
was a Conservative MP and press tycoon whose father, Lord Northcliffe, had
founded Associated Newspapers in 1905, publishers of The Times and the Daily
Mail to name but two. Rothermere took over when his father retired in 1932 and
continued to head the company until his death in 1978.
The buff logbook shows that Rothermere kept the car until
1954 when ownership transferred to Mrs Nora Janson, also of London SW1. Her son
was married to the Countess of Sutherland whose family seat was Dunrobin Castle
in the far north of Scotland. When the castle was turned into a boarding school
in 1965, Mrs Janson donated the Bentley to the headmaster, Thorleif Mangin, who
states in a letter on file that he used the car "to give us an image and to
impress prep school headmasters when we visited their schools".
Despite the fairy tale looks of the castle, Dunrobin
struggled to attract enough students due to its remote location and the school
decided to sell the Bentley because the insurance was so high and the car was
used so little. After getting it independently valued at £200, Mangin bought the
car for his own personal use in 1969 by which point it had covered 56,155 miles.
He was to keep it right up until 1990, initially having it serviced by Macrae
& Dick of Inverness but from 1974 onwards by Ristes of Nottingham, keeping a
detailed log of maintenance throughout this time.
In 1982 Mangin, by now headmaster of Rannoch School in
Perthshire, damaged the front of the Bentley when he skidded on snow at low
speed into a milk lorry that was blocking a country lane. By now the car had
covered 116,500 miles and the accident prompted him to send it to Ristes for a
proper restoration. This included repairs to the front wings, inner wheel
arches, boot floor, rear seat pans, sills and rear cross valance, the bill for
this lot coming to £5,507 including 289 hours of labour – although Ristes only
charged for 240 hours because "we are aware that the total cost is a lot more
than expected"! To put this in perspective, a brand-new Ford Sierra would have
cost about the same amount at the time.
In 1990 Ristes finally sold Mangin’s beloved Bentley to a
gentleman in Nottingham, fitting new rear springs and retrimming the front seat
squabs for him at the same time. He kept the car for 19 years but barely drove
it, old MOTs showing that it covered only 2,300 miles before it was sold to a
Bradford gent in 2009 from whom our vendor acquired it four months later.
By this time LXC 708 was looking a little sorry for itself
but fortunately our vendor was just the man to give it the care it needed. A
retired cabinet maker, he was also a skilled car restorer with a well-equipped
workshop and a collection of interesting classics (Alvis, Rolls-Royce, SS
Jaguar, MG etc) many of which he had restored himself. We are told by the family
that he spent quite some time fettling LXC 708 to bring it up to the standard he
required. This included fitting electronic ignition in 2012 using a kit supplied
by Jolley Engineering of Storridge and getting the sunroof to work and to seal
On offer here from a deceased estate, the car has been
starting promptly and running beautifully as we have moved it around on site,
despite the freezing conditions (sorry about the snow in some of the photos!).
The interior is in lovely condition and retains both the original radio and the
original tool kit in a lockable compartment beneath the glove box. The black
paintwork has lost its shine somewhat in places but is still very presentable
and the bodywork looks to be in good shape with excellent panel gaps. The
indicated mileage of 141,593 is almost certainly correct and the car doubtless
has at least another 70 years of useful life ahead of it.
We hope that the fortunate new owner will continue to
enjoy and cherish it as Thorleif Mangin did, adding their own chapter to its
fascinating story to date.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or