16-17 January 2014

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Lot 45

1953 Bentley R-Type Drophead Coupe by Park Ward

  • Chassis no. B9T0

Sold for $176,000

Est. 132 hp, 4,566 cc inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with helical springs and hydraulic dampers, semi-elliptic rear springs with hydraulic dampers, hydraulic front and mechanical rear brakes with mechanical servo assist. Wheelbase: 120 in.

  • Accompanied by documentation from the Rolls-Royce Foundation
  • Reportedly one of just six right-hand drive models produced
  • Handsome Park Ward coachwork
  • Recent servicing by restorer Robert Lorkowski

Following World War II, Rolls-Royce transferred production of its motor cars from Derby to its wartime aero-engine facility at Crewe. For the first time, the company built complete cars rather than chassis only. The first post-war Bentley to be built was the Mark VI, a virtual duplicate (sans radiator shell) of its sister, the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn. Standard bodies were styled by the company’s own designers, with ex-Gurney Nutting Chief Designer John Blatchley adding refinement. This was quite a change in philosophy by the parent company Rolls-Royce, yet it reflected the reality that standardized bodies could be built in greater numbers at its new factory in Crewe, England. Custom coachwork was, of course, available at the owner’s discretion.

Engine capacity was increased to 4,566 cubic centimeters in 1951, and the standard saloon body was revised with a longer boot in 1952. At the same time, chassis numbering had reached the R series, causing this model to become known as the R-Type in late-1952. This also marked the arrival of an optional automatic transmission with twin SU carburetors, which replaced a single Stromberg unit. A total of 2,325 R-Types in all configurations were produced through 1955.

Regarding the clothing of these chassis, Rolls-Royce/Bentley was the firm’s largest and most loyal customer, with a relationship dating back to 1919. As the demand for coachbuilt bodies declined, and to protect the supply of trained craftsmen, Rolls-Royce purchased rival H.J. Mulliner in 1959. In 1969, it bowed to the inevitable and merged the two firms, creating Mulliner Park Ward.

The Bentley offered here was first delivered to a Mr. George Dawson in October 1953, after having been fitted with handsome custom coachwork by Park Ward, and it is reported to be one of just six right-hand drive models built. The Black Cherry exterior presents well, and it is complemented by biscuit leather, which appears to be in very nice condition, as does the interior wood trim.

The sale of this lovely Bentley is also accompanied by a good amount of documentation, which includes the original Park Ward & Co. Power Hood Schematics; Bentley Hydraulic System Schematics; a copy of the original build card; a copy of the original registration documents; service history letters from 1975, 1981, and 1989; ownership history dating back to 1975; and an original transport letter from the UK to Maryland. Other items include a Park Ward Coachwork Album and the Bentley Power-Operated Hood System Manual.

After being acquired by its current owner several years ago, the Bentley was displayed at several events, winning a First in Class at a Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club National Meet, the Jack Frost Ladies’ Choice Trophy for Most Outstanding Car, and First Place at the 2013 Queen’s English All-British Car Show at Woodley Park, as well as Best Coachbuilt Car. To maintain the integrity of its mechanicals, it was also recently serviced by well-known Pebble Beach restorer Robert Lorkowski.

This nicely presented, rare and unusual Bentley would be most welcome at any Bentley Drivers Club meet.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more