‘In June 1952 the R-Type was presented to the public and it owed its name to the fact that the VI series had by this time reached the chassis letter R…(it) became one of the most popular Bentleys ever built.’ Adams & Roberts, ‘A Pride of Bentleys’, NEL, 1978.
Rolls-Royce commenced production post-war with the Silver Wraith and Bentley MkVI models. The traditional separate chassis was retained for the two newcomers, but for the first time there was standard coachwork. This new ‘standard steel’ body – produced by the Pressed Steel Company, of Oxford – was available at first only on the Bentley, the equivalent Rolls-Royce – the Silver Dawn – not appearing until 1949. The range featured a new design of independent front suspension, hydraulic front brakes and a new 4,257cc, six-cylinder, ‘F-head’ (inlet-over-exhaust) power unit destined for enlargement to 4,566cc in 1951. A much-needed improvement to the standard bodywork arrived in mid-1952 in the shape of an enlarged boot together with associated changes to the rear wings and suspension, subsequent models being known as the R-Type Bentley and E-Series Silver Dawn. The two newcomers were the first Rolls-Royce products available with automatic transmission, the company having opted for General Motors’ Hydra-Matic, a state-of-the-art four-speed unit permitting manual selection. The standard R-Type was a lively performer, achieving 106mph in silence and reaching 50mph from standstill in 10 seconds despite a kerb weight approaching two tons.
As usual, the R-Type could be ordered in chassis form for bodying by specialist coachbuilders, this automatic transmission example being the work of Rolls-Royce’s subsidiary, Park Ward Ltd. It is one of only 25 R-Type’s bodied in this style by Park Ward. PXC 165 was delivered to Ben Walton of Stoney Street Sutton-on-Ashfield in April 1955. Following a quick succession of three owners, it was purchased in 1970 by the current vendor’s father. It has remained in the same family ever since.
In 2004 the Bentley underwent an extensive refurbishment with bills on file of over £70,000. Having covered circa 600 miles since this work, the car remains resplendent in its elegant royal blue coachwork. The opportunity to acquire a vehicle of this stature and from such long term ownership is a rare treat, one not to be missed.