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Bentley MKVI/R-Type

Bentley MKVI/R-Type Published: 5th Jul 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Bentley MKVI/R-Type
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Unique style ● Sporty R type ● Good value ● Effortless tourers

What’s their attraction?

Until the Mulsanne Turbo saloon came along, these post-war Bentleys were the last to enjoy their own character and style you expect from a Bentley. The MkVI is one of the best post war prestige bargains, despite their pedigree, providing unbridled luxury and class at relatively affordable prices that undercut what a top S Series can sell for while the R-Type is a quaint sports saloon of real style and class. Small wonder that interest in these genteel GTs have soared of late.


A completely different bet to any more popular and later classic Bentley saloons being heavier as well as far more vintage to drive (particularly the hydro-mechanical braking system) plus performance, even with up to 4.5-litres under your right foot, is decidedly leisurely. On the other hand, they motor well and because top speeds are well in excess of 90mph, legal limit cruises are effortless (more so once the gearing was raised in 1954) as is their superb top gear performance enabling this car to saunter along at walking pace or power up hills with ease. Keener drivers should select a R-Type as it’s that bit sportier having more urge plus there’s a good chance of finding one with a manual gearbox or a four-speed auto. As you’d expect from a car from Crewe, comfort and refinement were world leading in their day and still impress more some 70 years on. As with all specialist cars, the best ‘mod’ if you can call it that is to have the car thoroughly serviced and sorted by an expert such as P&A Wood to make one drive as they were designed – the transformation will be astonishing. It has been known for the later 4887cc Silver Cloud/S Series engine to be fitted which considerably improves modern day motoring.

Prices to pay

Prices are on the ascend, but in general they will undercut later S saloon values unless it’s an R-Type model as they hold a slight premium. You’re looking at £65,000 or over for an R-Type (particularly so if a special body is fitted). Good usable cars can be had for around £35,000 and most projects hover in the £10,000 region but don’t think you’ll be saving a lot by doing the donkey work as parts are very expensive.

Top buying tips


Body is durable, but cost more to put things right than the car may be worth. Major work needs the bodyshell separating from the heavy-duty chassis.


A tough design alright and if there is any serious rust it’s likely to be at the back. Pre-’54 cars are worst-affected because earlier chassis frames were riveted together. Coach-built cars can suffer from the rust bug everywhere.


Early units used bypass oil filters; but most have by now been modified to full-flow. Those that haven’t often suffer from bottom-end woes and low oil pressure – check. Silting up of the water works is fairly well known and can cause expensive faults so check for overly hot running.

Running gear

Front kingpins, needle-roller bottom joints at the front and the threaded rear spring shackles are main check points when vetting. Front brakes are hydraulic while those at the rear are mechanically-operated and a leaking servo, can contaminate the clutch.


There’s a pipe connecting gearbox with the rear shock absorbers which allows the driver to adjust the damping, and if it fractures, the gearbox will lose its lubricant – if it’s still operative as many may have been by-passed.

Dates to remember

1949 Silver Dawn and Bentley MkVI surface with a 4.5-litre engine (twin carb for Bentley) and a choice of manual and auto transmissions. Bodies, including some dropheads, come from the factory.

1952 R-Type replaces MkVI with sportier appeal plus legendary Continental variants surfaces. Revamp includes the rear body styling revision (7.5in longer) for more luggage space coinciding with strengthened chassis and realigned rear springs to aid the handling.

1953/4 Interior revamp engine compression ratio raised, chassis became fully welded while in the Summer of ’54 rear axle ratio was raised.

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