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1946 Bentley Mk. VI 4 1/4 Prototype Vanden Plas DHC

Well Documented, Prototype Mk. 6. Interesting History.

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Exterior Color Burgundy Livery
Interior Color Red Leather
Mileage 6278 Miles TMU
Engine 4.3 Litre Straight 6 Cylinder no. B8A
Transmission 4-Speed
Status Sold
Stock FJ890


1946 Bentley Mark VI 4 1/4 litre Prototype DHC Vanden Plas
Chassis no. B12AK Engine no. B8A
Burgundy with Red Leather Interior

Britain’s first postwar luxury car, Bentley’s Mark VI reaffirmed that despite the war, Great Britain was still very much the same. The car was built with consummate attention to detail, and to the highest standards using traditionally British techniques. Included among these was the use of a separate frame so that customers seeking individual coachwork could buy chassis only and have them shipped to the coachbuilder of their choice to be fitted with a custom body. Typically, these coachbuilders were British as well, with such famous companies and H. J. Mulliner, Park Ward, James Young, Vanden Plas, Freestone and Webb, and Hooper. The majority of cars had a bodies of a few common styles (including, for the first time, Standard Steel coachwork from the factory), however, a few were fitted with special bodies.

This is one such example, an exceptional car bodied by Vanden Plas as a drophead coupe. It is one of only Mark VI six prototypes constructed and is believed to be the only surviving prototype. Factory Chassis Records confirm delivery on 31st August 1946 to Vanden Plas Ltd. at Kingsbury at a time when Bentley were approaching various coachbuilders for design ideas for their Standard Steel Saloon. Vanden Plas records suggest that this was the third prototype supplied to them and confirm that this body, No.4037, was constructed on chassis no.B12AK, the coachwork described as being a two-door drophead coupé finished in metallic brown. The car is distinctive in being built as a drophead coupé with detachable hard top and is featured in Rodney Steel’s Bentley – The Cars from Crewe and also in Brian Smith’s Vanden Plas Coachbuilders.

In March 1948 this car was delivered new to the Queen’s personal physician, J H Peel, (later Sir John Peel), of 86 Harley Street, London. (See photograph during his ownership). In 1957, it was recorded in the ownership of Clayton’s Cars of Bruton Place, London, and the following year was owned by L D Hill Esq, of Hill Engineering Ltd, London. Mr. Hill owned the car enthusiastically during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, and toured the European continent with the car, and there are period photos of the car on one such trip. B12AK was found in 1986 in a barn in Essex, at that time liveried in crimson but with the original metallic brown paint clearly visible under the Vanden Plas coachbuilder’s plate. Following discovery, B12AK underwent a chassis up rebuild and was repainted in its present burgundy livery with new red leather trim and carpets. Further work undertaken included rewiring, fitting of a new exhaust system and overhaul of the braking system. A complete engine rebuild was completed in 2002, new clutch and flywheel, complete brake job including master cylinder, and new mohair top. The engine has also been rebuilt, including ancillaries such as dynamo, radiator, water pump, ignition components, carburetors, and full stainless exhaust. The interior was also restored, and the chrome renewed, and new headlamps fitted. The restoration was completed in 2004. The car found its way to the United States in 2004, and has been under the care of collectors here since then.

The car is extremely well-documented, with period photographs, build sheets, data card, and a thick file of invoices. The car also comes with two original sales brochures. The car is equipped with a black mohair, electrically assisted hood and new tonneau cover and hood envelope, has small and large tools and comes with R.A.C., C.S.M.A., A.A. and B.D.C. badges. The original hard top, offered with the car, requires interior trim and further restoration.

The car is in very nice cosmetic condition, and would make an ideal driver. The body is nice, with straight panels and good gaps. The paintwork was completed to high standards some years ago, and is still quite lustrous. There are a few small chips, as well as some cracks in areas of complex curves of the body. The chrome is very good throughout, with just some light scratching and pitting, and one area where it is worn low on the side of the radiator shell. The glass and lamps are excellent, including the correct Bentley headlamps.

The interior is extremely nice. The carpets and leather are excellent, being only slightly worn in the following the restoration. The wood on the door panels is excellent, and the dashboard wood is quite lustrous, but does have a few cracks. The instruments are excellent, as are the switches. The tray beneath the glove box still contains the tools. The top is in excellent condition, and the electric top mechanism was restored when the rest of the car was restored, but does not work at this time.

The engine compartment and trunk are both very nicely restored. The trunk is trimmed in nice black carpets, and houses the tonneau cover. The engine compartment is tidy and clean, and shows much evidence of restorative work.

This is an unrepeatable opportunity to acquire a one-off prototype for the venerable Mark VI. Fastidiously documented and enthusiastically maintained, B12AK has much known history and is extremely complete with invoices, historical documents, sales literature, and tools. It is nicely presented in restored but usable condition, and will make an ideal fine weather touring car.


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Fantasy Junction +1 510 653 7555 Emeryville, California 94608 USA

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