Bentley MK VI Radford Countryman Saloon
- Vehicle Overview
Bentley MK VI Radford Countryman Saloon "The facilities devoted in times of peace to the manufacture of Bentley Cars are now concentrated on vital war production. At some time in the future the Bentley will again become a peace-time product. It will then be found that the experience acquired during further years of research and development in other engineering fields has been blended into a car which will excel even the rightly famed pre-war product," Advert by Bentley Motors Ltd, April 1942 The sentiments of Bentley's upbeat statement above were finally born out in May 1946 by the unveiling of its first post-WW2 motorcar, the MKVI. A handsome four-door, four-light Saloon, it was the first vehicle ever offered by the company with factory-designed coachwork, and the first to be assembled in Rolls-Royce's Crew factory rather than the old Derby premises. The rationalization proved to be a popular move in the pervading austerity and of the 5,202 MKVIs produced 4,190 were clothed in the in-house body. The size able, X-braced chassis now featured hydraulic front brakes and independent front suspension by wishbones and coil springs. Only one length of wheelbase was offered - 10-foot. Power came from the new six-cylinder unit first seen in the short-lived MKV Saloon (of which only eleven examples were completed due to the onset of WW2). Though still 4256cc in capacity, it was an entirely fresh design, with F-Type alloy head and belt drive for the dynamo and water pump. The adjoining four-speed manual gearbox now had synchromesh on all but first gear. Standard equipment included: heater, demisters, leather upholstery, radio, picnic tables, vanity mirrors, reading lights, spare coil, reversing lights, oil level indicator and fog lamp. Wheel spats and a sunroof were optional extras. After almost five years of unchanged production, the engine capacity was increased to 4566cc in May 1951 -cars so fitted went by the name of 'Big Bore'. Other modifications included the provision of full-flow oil filter lubrication, and a twin exhaust system. The model was superseded by the R Type in 1952. Among the most striking of the 1,012 coach built MKVIs produced were the 'Countryman' bodied cars of Harold Redford. The Series I examples were luxury wood-framed shooting brakes that bristled with gadgets from cocktail sets to washing facilities, and even featured an inbuilt platform from which to view point-to-point meetings. The Series II Countryman was a somewhat more conventional-looking, all metal Saloon -described in Radford's adverts of the time as 'The Sportsman's ideal Touring Saloon' - that featured a spring-loaded tailgate, folding rear seats and a range of accessories aimed at Bentley's more active clientele. Only nine Series II Countryman's are thought to have been built on Bentley's 'Big Bore' chassis, making the car on offer a rare example. Chassis B40 MD was sent to Harold Radford & Co Ltd on June 29th 1951. The completed Countryman was then registered 'HAR 1' and delivered back to Radfords in November of the same year. Still carrying the same registration, it is pictured in the book 'Bentley - 50 Years Of The Marque' complete with the number 201 on its flanks and plates for the 1954 Monte Carlo Rally, The extensive history file does not include full details of the early owners, but the continuation log book confirms it was registered to Hylma Mary Payn in 1968, and Richard Peel in 1973, with the vendor's now deceased husband acquiring the Bentley in late 1988. Correspondence on file shows the car was in need of much work and what turned out to be an extremely protracted and expensive restoration began soon afterwards, with the Bentley passing from Scott-Moncrieff, to Brunts of Silverdale and finally Classic Restorations (Scotland) Ltd, who finally completed the task last Autumn. By now resplendent in Blue over Silver coachwork complemented by a Grey leather interior, the Countryman was displayed at the 2010 International Classic Car Show at the NEC, where it was much admired. This rare and interesting Bentley is now ready to be enjoyed by a new owner. Come and view this beautiful car at our boutique Iconic Collection showroom at Orsett Hotel. By appointment only.