In real money terms buying a brand new Bentley has never been more affordable. A base model Bentayga might set one back £133,260 but the firm’s least expensive offering seventy years ago – a MKVI Standard Steel Saloon - would have cost £4,473. To put that into context the average house price in 1950 was £1,891, whereas today it stands at £250,000. Thus, the last seven decades have seen the cost of acquiring a Bentley go from over twice the price of the average UK house to a bit over half. Little wonder then that the Bentley MKVI sold to such an elite clientele. Certainly, the five due to go under the hammer at H&H Classics’ IWM Duxford auction on May 26th 2021 all boast interesting first owners.
The most expensive of the quintet when new and the most valuable now thanks to its coachbuilt body, the 1952 Bentley MKVI 4.5 Litre Drophead Coupe was supplied new to R.F. Haworth Esq whose family had made their fortune from the Industrial Revolution. One of only fifty-seven MKVI chassis to be clothed by Park Ward to their design number 99, its sister cars went to the likes of His Majesty King Frederik IX of Denmark, Nubar S. Gulbenkian, His Royal Highness Prince Frederick of Prussia, Maharaja of Darbhanga, Viscountess Errington, the actor John Mills, Miss Marjorie Carnegie, Prince Berar of Hyderabad, 6th Marquis of Bath and shipping magnate Stavros Spyrou Niarchos. Restored to its former glory by the vendor (a serial Rolls-Royce and Bentley owner), the Drophead is estimated at £100,000 - £120,000.
Demand for housing reached new heights in post-WW2 Britain with numerous town and cities still bearing the scars of the Lutwaffe’s all too frequent bombing raids. A boom time for builders and property developers such as James T. Cook & son, the latter found itself able to afford a very rare and elegant Bentley MKVI with ‘Pillarless’ two-door coachwork (one of just six crafted by Freestone & Webb). Now reportedly the sole member of the sextet resident in the UK, it has been cosmetically refurbished in recent years and carries a saleroom estimate of £85,000 - £95,000.
The twelfth of only forty-nine chassis to be fitted with ‘design C11’ coachwork by James Young, ‘KKL 847’ is the most original of the three coachbuilt MKVIs in the May 26th 2021 IWM Duxford auction. Supplied new to Charles Soukup, the Managing Director of the renowned valve and gasket producer Richard Klinger Ltd, the Bentley has had just three further keepers since then and covered a warranted 78,000 miles from new. A fine testament to Crewe durability despite its imperfect paint, the four-door saloon carries a guide price of £18,000 - £22,000.
‘AJV 816’ may be a more humble Standard Steel Saloon but it was first owned by the renowned farmer, entrepreneur and marksman Sir Joseph Nickerson (also known as 'Patridge Joe') whose Wemmergill Moor shoots played host to the likes of HRH The Prince of Wales, President John F Kennedy and King Juan Carlos of Spain. Later cherished by a time served ex-Rolls-Royce mechanic for twenty-four years, the MKVI underwent an extensive cosmetic restoration during 2007-2009. Pleasingly retaining its factory-fitted sliding sunroof, tool tray and underbonnet torch, the Bentley is estimated at £25,000 - £30,000.
Another Standard Steel Saloon, ‘LXT 560’ was first owner by the Dunlop Rubber Company Ltd at Fort Dunlop. Resident in Lebanon for a time, the MKVI has formed part of a private collection in recent years. Not used on the road since approximately 2014, the vendor has treated the Bentley to a degree of servicing and recommissioing works. Strikingly finished in two-tone Blue with Blue leather upholstery, it is guided at £14,000 - £18,000.