1949 Bentley MkVI Sports Saloon
From a deceased estate; current owner 25 years; always well-maintained with a large history file; driven over 200 miles to the sale
Sitting here in our air-conditioned, iPod-connected, mile-munching motorway cruisers, it is hard to imagine what motoring was actually like in the early 1950s. Only 30% of journeys were taken by car and the vast majority of people had to rely on buses, bicycles and motorbikes. The road network was nowhere near as extensive as it is now, sorely congested and ill-maintained.
With a long journey in prospect, the best that most people could aspire to was a modest family saloon, an under-geared nightmare of Rexine seats, exhaust fumes and glacial acceleration. Journeys that take a few hours on our modern high-speed roads could be a day’s slog in the ‘50s as you dodged the cyclists, grindingly slow heavy goods vehicles, belching buses and asthmatic pre-war saloons.
Fighting for every inch of road put comfort and acceleration at a premium and for the motorist who didn’t have to worry about fuel economy or initial outlay, there were few better ways to sidestep this motoring hell than to buy a Bentley MkVI. With no email or Zoom calls to fall back on, long journeys were vital necessities for any company director whose fortunes depended on knowing exactly how his organisation was functioning.
Imposing enough to be chauffeured in, yet handy enough to be owner-driven when the need was pressing or the mood was right, the MkVI was the pinnacle of boardroom ambition in ‘50s Britain. At £4,500 it was three times the price of Britain’s only other 100mph luxury saloon, the Jaguar MkVII, and although it might not have been three times the car, its sheer quality was beyond dispute and there was a three-year waiting list to get one.
It would therefore have been a special day indeed for Mr Parsons, owner of the Premier Screw Company in Leicester, when he finally got behind the wheel of his brand new MkVI in February 1949, the Bentley Motors Ltd delivery note still nestling in the history file. Finished in Dual Grey with a light blue hide interior, FRY 926 must have proved its worth many times over in the years that followed and in fact the car has outlived the Premier Screw business which got swallowed up by the GKN empire in 1966.
Little is known of FRY’s subsequent history but by 1978 it was with a Mr Andrews of Sevenoaks who had the brightwork rechromed and areas of the bodywork restored in 1992 when the odometer was showing some 26,500 miles. Our vendor acquired the car from Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialists Colbrook of Stilton, Peterborough, in January 1996 for the sum of £10,000.
A long-standing member of the Bentley Driver's Club (which he had joined in 1947), he bought the MkVI to celebrate his and his wife's 70th birthdays. Sharing garage space with a 1923 Bentley 3-Litre which he had owned for the preceding 45 years or more, FRY had the advatntage of being snug and weatherproof and over the next 15 years it provided sterling service on numerous BDC events, including several Continental tours, the odometer now showing 58,700 miles.
A good file of invoices attest to meticulous upkeep in the current 25-year ownership including a major bout of expenditure in 2007/2008 (at 52,500 miles) when the engine was completely stripped and rebuilt with a reground crankshaft, new main bearing shells plus much else besides, the machining being done by Belcher Engineering of Diss and the assembly by the rather splendidly named Foppe G d’Hane of Woodbridge. [Other undated invoices show that the engine had previously received a new set of pistons plus much other work but the writing is very hard to read].
The brakes and suspension were also overhauled at around the same time by Harvey Wash Ltd of Woodbridge and the bodywork (which had previously been restored in 1998 including a bare metal repaint) was also smartened up and the cavities waxoil injected by VW Anticks of Woodbridge. The radiator was recored in 2009 and we are told that even the clock works correctly, provided it is kept wound up.
Very little used in the last 10 years due to the advancing years of the owner, the car was given a good check-over in 2019 to prepare it for its last MOT which expired in July 2020. On offer here from a deceased estate, it was gamely driven over 200 miles to the sale by the late-owner’s son who reports that, as ever, FRY drove beautifully, easily keeping up with modern traffic, the only fault he noted being the fuel gauge which needed a good thump from underneath to unstick the needle from empty.
Supplied with a large history file, an original owner’s handbook and all its large and small tools, it also retains its original, eye-catching Leicester-issue number plate, FRY 926, which is transferable and no doubt has a value of its own.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or email [email protected]
Reg No: FRY926
Chassis Number: B301DZ
Engine Number: B400D
Engine Size: 4256
Docs: V5C; copy older V5; two old MOTs; many invoices; correspondence; 1949 Bentley Motors delivery note; original owner’s handbook
Hammer Price (inc. buyers premium)
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