1952 Bentley MkVI “Big Bore”

INTERIORBlue Leather

1952 Bentley MkVI “Big Bore”

  • Documented ownership
  • Registered new in Milan
  • Ex California RHD car
  • 4566cc straight-six twin SU HD4 (H6) carburettors
  • Four-speed, three-synchro manual
  • Original Bentley Build Sheets
  • Please scroll down the page past the video to see the bidding and to read a full description for this lot

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  • Documented ownership
  • Registered new in Milan
  • Ex California RHD car
  • 4566cc straight-six twin SU HD4 (H6) carburettors
  • Four-speed, three-synchro manual
  • Original Bentley Build Sheets

Fashion is fickle but class never goes out of style, does it? A Bentley means one thing-pure class. But not pomposity. The Bentley MkVI exuded a presence and a dignity that was understated but eternal.

Prior to the Second World War, Rolls-Royce produced only ‘bespoke’ cars:  the company provided the chassis, engine and firewall;  the buyer chose the body to be built by the coachbuilder of choice.

Rolls-Royce had always produced a less expensive (relatively speaking) ‘Small Horsepower’ range. In the late pre-war years the company began to develop the MkV. The plan was for it to be introduced at the Olympia Motor Show in 1939.  A certain Mr Hitler changed all that.

Rolls-Royce/Bentley turned their attention to supporting the war effort and in particular, the production of the marvellous Merlin engine.

However, a few of the Bentley team continued the post-war planning of the MkV which was to become the MkVI.

Pre WWII, coach-built bodies were mostly hand-built of light alloy over wood framing.  The post-war economy didn’t allow such extravagance. The renowned coach-builder, Park Ward, was acquired by Rolls-Royce in 1939. As Park Ward was unlikely to meet the demand for the all new MkVI, the Pressed Steel Company, was contracted to produce the bodies. Bespoke cars remained available; to those who could afford them.

It was a very delicate moment for the boffins at Rolls-Royce, they were concerned that a ‘mass-produced’ car might diminish its brand. Therefore, the MkVI was first only provided as a Bentley.

They needn’t have worried. Reviews and demand exceeded expectations. This was against a backdrop of the Standard Steel Saloon being priced at £2,595 pounds plus £1,000 in tax, nearly £100k today. This was at a time when the average car in the UK sold for £600. The first cars were delivered in September and the order books bulged, leading to a three-year waiting list.

Customers were delighted with their ‘mass produced’ Standard Steel Mk VI’s. Evidenced by the fact that out of the 5201 made, only 832 had coach-built bodies.


Our vendor, Dennis, tells quite a bit about the early history of this classic 1952 Bentley MkVI.

Chassis No. B184PV was originally purchased direct from the factory by Dr Antonio Sozzani on behalf of Casa de les Principes Borbon (Prince Alphonso de Borbon), Milan, Italy in 1952.

The second owner Dr Maxwell Lyons, in Geneva, Switzerland, purchased the Bentley in March 1961. Dr Lyons retired in 1971 and came to live in York. Dr Lyons contacted the well-known Bentley specialists, Frank Dale & Stepsons, to sell the Bentley on his behalf. Which we would guess posed no challenge whatsoever.

Frank Dale sold the Bentley to Mr Lawrence Krantz in Virginia, USA. We make an assumption that Lawrence was in the automobile business, because in no time, 1972 to be precise, the Bentley was sold again to a Richard C Larson in Maryland.

Then, sadly, there is a gap in information until the Bentley came in to our vendor’s orbit.

Dennis had been looking for a MkVI for some time, without much success, none of them being good enough to be honest. His son lives in Virginia and it was on a family visit there, in July 2019, that he saw this Bentley

Current ownership

Dennis saw the classic Bentley at West Coast Classics. He went to visit, loved it and in double quick time the Bentley was on its way to its spiritual home, back in the UK. It arrived in August 2019. We’ll let Dennis take up the story from here.

“On getting the car over here I sent it to a well-known Rolls Royce and Bentley Specialist in Nottingham to be checked over and serviced. Total Invoice £3479.20.” 

Dennis continues;
“Since then I have had certain suspension bushes renewed and a Powerspark Electronic Ignition System fitted along with 2 commensurate Dry Resin Sports coils and spark plugs.
Two new Exhaust Boxes have been fitted.
In its original form it still had fitted just the arm-type trafficators.  Considering these not suitable for today’s traffic conditions I have had flashing direction indicators fitted.   These have been neatly incorporated in the existing standard lights so no additional fitments or drilling of the bodywork had to take place. These are controlled from a vintage type flashing indicator stalk on the steering column.  The original trafficators still work from the original switch on the dashboard.  

Recently the Cooling system was thoroughly flushed out and a new thermostat fitted and fresh antifreeze added. 

Included in the work to ensure proper cooling as well as a new Thermostat I had the Radiator re-cored. Running temperature remains constant midscale in traffic or on a motorway.

I like to keep everything up to scratch so the Car can be used.   It starts ‘on the button’ and runs well. There is a copy of the original Bentley Motors Build Sheets on file.”


The MkVI, not entirely unexpectedly, has been renovated at some time, including the interior. It looks sumptuous.

Back then, if anyone were to wonder why these beautiful Bentleys cost three times as much as the average car, they didn’t have to look any further than the walnut veneers, the West of England Cloth headlining and the best Connolly leather, with one small Yale-type key that serves the entire car.

There are locks on everything, from the toolkit (images of this are in the gallery) to the bonnet. It’s as if there was a paranoia about the ‘lower orders’ pinching bits off them. The detail on the interior is amazing and transports you back in time.

These details are a huge element in the massive charm of these cars along with others; for example everything is fitted and finished to an impeccable standard, with writing desks in the backs of the seats and a general air of what road testers used to call ‘well being’.


The MkVI was  powered by a straight-six 4257 cc engine (‘small bore’) enlarged in June 1951 to 4566 cc (‘Big Bore’) with dual exhausts to increase engine breathing and horsepower, torque and performance. This is a Big Bore Bentley.

The introduction of the Big Bore lifted the MkVI to even loftier heights. The 4½-litre engine, with its full-flow oil filter and Siamese 3½in bores – produced and increase in power to 156bhp pushing the MkVI’s performance into the 100mph class and lopping 1.4 secs off the 0-60mph time.

The enamel black engine looks gorgeous. It drives very well too. Our vendor tells us he does use it as you would an everyday car, just not every day. He does it for the sheer enjoyment, ‘its great fun” he says. “It attracts attention wherever it goes”.

It is best used as a weekend car on longer runs where the Bentley comes into its own. Dennis tells us he uses regularly to go away with friends. A hundred mile plus round trips are not unusual. “It runs beautifully and cruises easily at 70mph on the motorway” he says.

Our vendor has a few other classic cars and the upkeep is done by one mechanic on all the cars. If the Bentley needed something doing, it has been done


The pictures tell their own story about the condition of the exterior of the Bentley. Any inspection is welcome. But small details such as the fact, Dennis didn’t want anyone ‘drilling into the body” should tell you all you need to know about the condition.

What we think.

Class, elegance, unrivalled engineering; what a car.

We’ll pick out one story Dennis discussed with us about the Bentley. He was away for five weeks and left the Bentley stored away. When he’d been back a couple of days, he went to see how the Bentley was. He tells us he’d merely engaged the starter and “within a couple of secs”, it fired and was idling perfectly.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to own this classic, uber cool Bentley MkVI?

“Just getting the Bentley out, love”. Can you imagine?


Vehicle Location: Derbyshire DE5 – it’s the responsibility of the winning bidder to make collection / transportation arrangements directly with the vendor

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Bidder Bid amount Bid time
j*******s £15,000.00 2022-06-06 13:22:28
Start auction £15,000.00 30/05/2022 9:00 AM


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