1950 Bentley MkVI Manual Sports Saloon
First 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 properly.
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 email [email protected]
Reg No: LXC708
Chassis Number: B218JO
Engine Number: B109J
Engine Size: 4256
Docs: V5C; old style V5C; copy V5 from 1981; buff logbook; 3 old MOTs; invoices; maintenance log; correspondence; press cuttings; CD workshop manual; factory build sheets
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