13th Mar, 2024 13:00

Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire

  Lot 35

1954 Bentley R-Type Halse 'Straight Eight' Special

Sold for £46,125

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: UHT 313
Chassis No: B161WG
MOT: Exempt

  • 1 of just 16 Bentley Specials made by Halse Engineering of Lewes, East Sussex during the 1970s
  • Equipped with a Rolls-Royce straight-eight engine, Bentley S2 Continental automatic transmission and LSD
  • Accompanied by a V5C Registration Document and sundry paperwork
  • Styling touches such as a cut-down radiator shell, dual cowl scuttle, external fuel tank, amply stocked dashboard, fold-flat windscreen, side-exiting exhaust pipes, and oversized headlamps
  • Subject to recent attention being paid to the braking and fuel system

Introduced in 1946, the MkVI was Bentley's first post-war model. Aimed at the emerging 'owner-driver' luxury car market, it was closely based on the 1939 MkV (of which only fifteen were produced). Built around a massive cruciform-braced chassis with independent front suspension and a leaf-sprung 'live' rear axle, it was fitted with a freshly developed 4257cc (later 4566cc) overhead inlet / side exhaust straight-six engine mated to four-speed manual transmission. Unfortunately, the variable quality of steel available in the post-WW2 period meant that the MkVI's standard steel saloon coachwork rarely lasted as long as Crewe had intended; a shortcoming which also befell its closely related R-Type successor. Thus, by the mid-to-late 1960s there were a good number of mechanically strong but cosmetically tatty cars running around. Dating from that time onwards, the tradition of building MkVI and R-Type-based Specials is a long and proud one.

William Halse of Halse Engineering in Lewes, Sussex is understood to have built sixteen MkVI / R-Type based Specials during the 1970s (see 'Bentley Specials and Special Bentleys Volume One' by Ray Roberts for more details). Influenced by Bentley Drivers’ Club stalwart Harry Rose’s not dissimilar machines, the Halse cars not only featured lightweight fibreglass tubs and minimalist other bodywork but were also sufficiently well finished for several to them to be retailed via Vintage Automobiles of London. A fun design - which unlike some MkVI / R-Type-based Specials does not pretend to be a W.O. Bentley model - the Lewes-built Roadster nevertheless sported some flamboyant styling touches such as a cut-down radiator shell, dual cowl scuttle, external fuel tank, amply stocked dashboard, fold-flat windscreen, side-exiting exhaust pipes, and oversize headlamps.

Seemingly inspired by the experimental ‘Scalded Cat’ cars that Bentley concocted during the late 1940s, ‘UHT 313’ eschewed its donor car’s 4566cc straight-six in favour of a far larger straight-eight. The engine in question being part of Rolls-Royce B80/81 family that powered everything from the marque’s ultra exclusive Phantom IV limousines through to various military vehicles (and which typically displaced anywhere from 5.7 to 6.5 litres). Fed by quad carburettors and equipped with a dry sump oil system to lower its centre of gravity, the fearsome powerplant is allied to Bentley S2 Continental automatic transmission. Given that a Rolls-Royce B81 engine reputedly develops some 220bhp and 330lbft of torque as standard, the addition of a limited slip differential to the rear axle seems entirely sensible!

Previously belonging to Jeffrey Fredericks Esq of East Grinstead, ‘UHT 313’ is understood to be ‘a most dramatic performing car’, the only real clue as to the two-seater’s extra turn of speed are the four carburettor trumpet holes to the bonnet’s offside. Purchased by the current vendor to take part in a motoring event, now the Bentley has served its purpose this exciting Bentley Special is now looking for its next custodian. Having had recent attention paid to its braking and fuel systems ‘UHT 313’ is accompanied by a V5C Registration Document, sundry other paperwork and wet weather gear.

For more information, please contact:
James McWilliam
07943 584760


Auction: Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 13th Mar, 2024

An auction of classic, collector and performance motorcars to be held at the iconic and visually stunning Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Venue Details 

To enquire about entering your classic or performance car into the auction please call our sales office on 01925 210035, email sales@HandH.co.uk or click here: Enter Your Classic Motorcar 

All our professional valuations are complimentary and without obligation.

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Tues 12th March from 12pm
Wed 13th March from 9am

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All successful bids must be paid in full by midday the day after the auction at the latest.

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