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Car of the Month - July 1999
Bentley Mk V, 1940, #B18AW, Park Ward Four Door Saloon

Bentley Mk V, 1940, Park Ward Four Door Saloon

Top of Page The start of hostilities in September 1939 brought an abrupt end to any plans as regards the most promising new Bentley Mark V model. Between summer 1939, when production of chassis commenced and outbreak of WWII in September of that year a mere 18 chassis had been completed. Because later a number of them were cannibalised, i.e. stripped of major components to enable others to be completed, no more than 11 Bentley Mark V were finished as complete motor cars. Thus the Bentley Mark V is the rarest of all Bentley models produced by the British manufacturer.

Bentley Mk V, 1940, Ward Four Door SaloonPowered by a modern 6-cylinder in-line engine of 4,257 ccm capacity and with its advanced chassis sporting independent front suspension the Bentley Mark V was an impressive sports car. Experimental Mk V Bentleys tested during 1938 and 1939 had impressed with a top speed in excess of 90 mph. The engine was designed as a high mileage unit with a special stiff crank shaft of 2.5 inch diameter main and 2 inch crank pin using a newly developed AC9 'highload alloy' for the big ends along with exhaust valves faced with stellite the aim being to break the magic 100,000 miles without attention. This ends up with a power unit being very suitable for use with lead free fuel.

Under more favourite circumstances the Bentley Mark V would have been applauded as a most worthy addition to the Rolls-Royce/Bentley product range. As time went by however this particular model remained a sort of "sleeping beauty" and its merits were not known outside the circle of the happy few, who had experienced the cars smooth power and impeccable roadholding. 

The Bentley Mark V shown here, chassis number #B18AW, had finished test not prior to January 1940 and was delivered to coachbuilder Park Ward to be fitted with a four door saloon body. As completion of the body took until July 1940 this is the very last motor car to emerge from the factory at Derby, where no motor cars were built after WWII. This one is the final car to be fitted with factory wire wheels - post-war models sported steel rims. Chassis Card Details on #B18AW give off the intention to fit a Vanden Plas sports tourer body. This idea however was changed and the car was bodied as a four door saloon with sunroof by Park Ward. As the coachbuilder had been taken over by Rolls-Royce it can be taken for granted, that the work was on a par with the very best obtainable in the United Kingdom. Very few Bentley Mark V were finished and only released to Company officials and selected owners. #B18AW beccame the property of C.L. Breeden, Birmingham. Mr. C. L. Breeden of Wilmot Breeden Ltd had a special dispensation certificate from the government allowing him to purchase a new car during WWII and B18AW was delivered to him at the beginning of 1941. It was continually under the supervision of the experimental department and had its running boards removed at the works in 1942.

Wilmot-Breeden OverridersJust after the War Mr. Breeden approached Rolls Royce with his new style of front and rear bumper fitted to this car. Specially designed overriders instead of  chromed plates had been fitted. Rolls-Royce adopted the idea and the company's post-war models were fitted with so-called "Wilmot-Breeden Overriders" (made by Pyrene).

Car during restauration

InteriorDuring recent years this Bentley Mark V has been subject to a painstaking restoration. This included the repair of damage to the coachwork (which some claim to be a substitute of the original body) and a complete respray. Door panels and seats were re-trimmed in finest leather, with new headlining and carpets completing the work on the interior. The car retains all its original electrical components including the Rolls Royce distributor and even its original rotor arm and is unique in having its original correct overdriven gear box still fitted and in excellent condition. The general service items such as the oil filter are readily available and there exists a source in the US for such items as points and rotor arms etc. As the powertrain had given no reason to any complain at all, engine and gearbox remained almost untouched and show some sympathetic patina. This motor car is complete down to the extremely rare tools stamped "Bentley Mark V". 

A most knowledgeable expert as regards this model is: D. Nixon, Stubbles Farm, Cressing, Essex CM7 8NU, England, Tel.: +44 - (0)1376 - 584080, email:

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