Chassis Number: BC 6 A

Rolls-Royce bought Bentley Motors in 1931 and before the War they built over 2,000 sporting Bentley cars to fit in with their existing more formal range. In the austere post war world Rolls-Royce were unsure how the market would receive their first new model with ‘in house’ coachwork. In 1946, rather than risk a failure with the Rolls-Royce name on it, they launched the “Bentley Mk. VI” and in 1952 changed the name to the “Bentley R Type” as they upgraded the design.

The car proved to be a great success and the company built 7,500 of the “Standard Steel Saloon” which as the name implies was built to a standard design which was a robust upright four door saloon. It was an exceptional car but it was evident that there was also a demand for something even more special, individual, and sporting. So it was that between 1952 and 1955 Rolls-Royce came to build to specific customer requirements the Bentley R Type Continental chassis which was to be fitted with special lightweight coach-built bodies.

Almost all the bodies were produced by H.J. Mulliner in lightweight aluminium. They were only available in a two door design, were aero-dynamically styled and featured an innovative curved windscreen, stiffened chassis and tuned engine. They were built to order and no two cars are exactly alike as owners could choose from a variety of options including colours, manual or automatic gearbox, instrumentation and cockpit layout, spats on the rear wheels, types of seats etc.

The Bentley R Type Continental is arguably the most significant post-war car produced by Rolls-Royce. It was the fastest production four seater in the World and would cruise at 100 mph. It carried stunning light alloy coachwork and was highly exclusive with only 208 examples being built. It combined style, performance and innovation with the company’s universally acknowledged reputation for reliability.

The first 25 chassis were designated as ‘A Series’ and included ‘Olga’ the famous prototype with chassis number BC 26 A. The number 13 with its unlucky association was never allocated, accordingly engine BCA 13 was fitted into Chassis BC 14 A. All of this first series were built for ‘Export Only’ although curiously only 4 were left hand drive.

Chassis BC 6 A is an early car from the first series and was displayed at the Grand Palais on the Champs-Elysees for the 1952 French Motorshow, “The Paris Salon”. There are photos showing it wearing the Bentley Motors ‘BM’ registration along with the number 1953 as the new model for the coming year. Not surprisingly the first three owners of the car were French:

Henri Lafond France October 1952
V. Millet France October 1958
Charles St. Perier France October 1963
Col. G.P. Burnham UK December 1964
G.E. Turner UK July 1976
Victor Clark UK December 1983 (24 years)
Current Owner UK April 2007 (16 years)

Being an early car it has the attractive slim body and is presented in Oxford Blue with beautifully patinated Oxblood leather all complimented by Mulliner’s excellent wood veneers to the instrument panel and door cappings. It retains a high degree of originality including the desirable lightweight seats, manual gearbox and matching number engine. The car runs and drives as it should with light steering, a delightful gearbox, reassuringly powerful brakes and a smooth and quiet engine. I collected the car and drove it over 100 miles to bring it to the showroom and it performed perfectly and its temperature guage remained un-troubled even when driven into central London.

BC 6 A is a very good example of the R Type Continental. Included in the sale are its original Owners Handbook as well as three files containing details of its service history, owners particulars and works carried out. Viewing and a test is recommended.