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Car of the Month

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Bentley R-Type

Taylor: Original Rolls-Royce & Bentley



Car of the Month - February 2011
Bentley R, 1952, #B14RT
2-Door Sports Saloon by Park Ward d

Bentley R

The Earls Court Motor Show, London, was a top event for motor car manufacturers during the years after the end of World War II. To exhibit there was a 'Must' for all those with production plants in the United Kingdom – and none of the major coachbuilder, of course, could neglect that chance to offer to show their newest creations in bespoke coachwork. The magazine "The Autocar" in their issue from 24th October 1952 gave an overview and reported as regards the stand of Park Ward and Co., Ltd,: "…Bentley two-door sports saloon." However they DID NOT give a model designation.

There is the simple description "Bentley " for a model, that as per chassis-number was from the "R-Type" range (actually it was the same with other coachbuilders, e.g. "…E.D. Abbott showed a Bentley sports saloon…" or "…H.J. Mulliner…Bentley four-door six-light all-metal saloon…"). Such might be considered an indication that there was some confusion then as regards the model's designation. The manufacturer's staff had been convinced the successor to the hitherto built Bentley Mark VI would be marketed as Bentley Mark VII. Indeed the factory documents, i.e. the so-called "Chassis Cards", show the Bentley with chassis-number #B14RT listed as "Type: Bentley 7":

Chassis Card

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This was no exception from the rule! The first Bentley from the new model-series – that was #B20RT with a four-door Standard Steel Sports Saloon ex-factory – had been delivered to the customer with an invoice from June 1952 for a "Bentley Mk VII Chassis Standard Steel Saloon":

 Bentley R Type - Rechnung

Bentley hadn't been so alert to consider that there already had been car as "Mk VII"on the market. Jaguar had launched their Jaguar Mk VII in 1950 – and Jaguar, of course, was very strict in protecting their 'older rights' in the model name and threatened legal action if another manufacturer would neglect the legal situation. Bentley's reaction in the end was to opt for their new model that substituted the Bentley Mark VI to be christened "Bentley R-Type". Basis for such a decision was that the combination of letters in the chassis-number was "RT" just when production of the new model started and from that combination "RT" the first letter "R" was chosen. The dispute between Bentley and Jaguar didn't become a public affair, not least du to the fact legal action was aborted before it made its way to court. In hindsight Jaguar having made more than 30,000 Jaguar Mark VII as well as Bentley with a production figure exceeding 2,000 Bentley R (a considerable number for a very-high-price-product) listed these models as 'Bestsellers'’.

Bentley R Type

However Bentley had real trouble from their mishap because the company was forced to revise the Owner's Manual and make sure any hint on "Bentley Mk VII" was eliminated. Only after that procedure they could order a complete new batch of handbooks from their printer Bemrose – inevitable that resulted in considerable delay and expenses. It was unavoidable, too, that the Workshop Manual became subject of a most careful check; in its final version it covered the complete model range (Bentley Mk VI, R-Type, R-R Silver Wraith, R-R Silver Dawn, R-R Phantom V). In addition to the most detailed Workshop Manual with all essential information on service and repairs the garages of the authorized dealers' network from time to time were provided Service Bulletins with details on additions, alterations or improvements from permanent development. Archived here is an original collection of the complete set of Service Bulletins from No.1 (1947) thru No. 245 (1961) and such Service Bulletins show a notable characteristic: Despite the fact that from 1952 onward the Bentley Mark VII (although a mere 20 cars were invoiced with that designation) or Bentley R-Type respectively was in production – the company did not up-date the model-name in their Service Bulletins. With no exception all Service Bulletins with information on Bentley R-Type were printed on sheets which show a blue 'head line' that reads “Model: Bentley Mark VI”. In any case the Workshop Manual and the Service Bulletins nowadays for any owner of such a car are worth their weight in gold because a single fault during service or repair can led to damage that will be much more expensive than the investment in these Technical Service Documents.

Bentley R Park Ward Coupé

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