1954 Bentley R-Type ‘Long-winged Drophead Coupe’ by Park Ward
Chassis No: B-157-YA Registration number: PGP 4
Introduced at the 1952 Earls Court Motor Show, the R-Type was a subtle reworking of its MkVI predecessor and would have been called the MkVII had Jaguar not recently appropriated the name for their flagship saloon. Effectively a more practical, longer booted version of the MkVI, it was powered by a silky-smooth 'Big Bore' 4,566cc straight-six engine with twin SU carburettors and an aluminium cylinder head. An excellent automatic transmission was offered for the first time, resulting in a far more relaxing driving experience, however, those owners who enjoyed a more ‘sporting’ feel, frequently chose the manual gearbox. The majority of cars were factory-built 'Standard Steel Saloons' but coachbuilt versions were offered by H. J. Mulliner, Park Ward (as here), Harold Radford and Freestone and Webb amongst others.
This UK-registered, right-hand drive R-Type was coachbuilt by Park Ward and is a rare example of their ‘Long-winged Drophead Coupé’. It was ordered with a synchromesh manual gearbox and a number of unusual features including a flat petrol tank, fog lamps in place of the centre lamp, and a scuttle aerial. Recorded as being completed on 25th May 1954, it was handed over to its first owner, William McDonald and Sons (Biscuits) Ltd. in Hillington, Glasgow on the 8th of September, 1954 by local dealers, Pass and Joyce. It may seem a somewhat extravagant purchase for a biscuit maker but McDonalds were hugely successful having developed the, ‘Penguin, YoYo, MunchMallow and Glengarry’ brands over the preceding few years. One can only imagine the Company Chairman, travelling home from a board meeting in his immaculate Bentley, having eschewed the services of his chauffeur, and quietly munching his way through the very latest flavours of Penguin chocolate biscuit..
PGP4 appears to have come south to Middlesex in the early sixties and judging by the Certificate of Title from Detroit, spent part of its life in Michigan, USA. There is quite a lot of additional history with the car including the original Build Sheet, pre-delivery Road Test Report at 47 miles, items of correspondence and various invoices.
The R-Type presents beautifully in classic Silver Grey over light grey Connolly hide with grey carpets and a black mohair hood. The paintwork retains a deep shine, the panel gaps are even, the chrome work is generally excellent and inside the car, the soft leather is gently patinated, the dashboard veneers and switch gear are first-class and the whole interior gives the impression of having been properly looked after for years, without a chocolate biscuit wrapper in sight.
As you can see from our short video this imposing, handsome and dignified Bentley R-Type is one of those cars that just exudes class from every well-turned, Park Ward angle. Come along, drive the car and see for yourself.