Lot 258 - 1947 Bentley Mk. VI Special Roadster by Mallalieu
|Estimate||£30,000 - £40,000|
|Result||Sold - £35,840|
During the late 60s and early 70s, many considered creating attractive new touring bodies as opposed to investing in the restoration of a standard steel sports saloon which made more financial and practical sense. Derry F. Mallalieu decided to build his first Bentley Special whilst living in Conneticut, USA and based on a Bentley Mk. VI, before moving operations back to the UK. Adopting the leisurely, unhurried methods of traditional coach building, work proceeded at his base in Wootton near Abingdon. The handcrafted body was a composition of carefully formed panels; a beautifully finished product which was then married to the chassis of a Bentley Mk. VI whose original coachwork had simply been scrapped. Frame and engine as well as gearbox, rear axle and suspension were carefully checked before applying the standard Mallalieu formula. This involved lowering the chassis with an underslung rear end and setting the generally unmodified engine back in the chassis. His 'tour de force' was undoubtedly the coachwork design that first consigned the original, more formal Mk. VI or R-Type coachwork to the scrapyard. The lowered radiator of Mallalieu's cars was compensated for by an enlarged header tank, thus not compromising the cooling on these fast road cars. Although Mallalieu cars were bespoke and detailed to the buyers' requirements, the open roadsters were, by far, the most popular.
The availability of the almost full range of spare parts met certain customers' desire to alter cars from righthand drive to lefthand drive using original Bentley parts. Regarding the interior, only the finest materials were accepted and thanks to the relatively light bodywork, the cars offered impressive acceleration.
The vendor, in 1979, read an article in the Financial Times by Stuart Marshal about Mallalieu Motors and his appetite was whetted for further investigation. He then made a visit to the factory in Abingdon where the Bentley cars were totally refurbished and rebuilt and this resulted in an order being placed in June of that year. The donor car was purchased in July and the open tourer car was made over the ensuing year, becoming number 38 in Mallalieu's build programme.
The rebuild started with a new chassis being made, incorporating part of the old Bentley structure. When this was completed, it was sand-blasted, galvanised and painted with red iron oxide. It was then finished with a final coat of black bituminous paint; the whole structure being usable for a period that would stretch at least into the next century or as Stuart wrote in the FT, "good for another generation's service".
The body was built through making a steel structure and then covering this in hand-crafted aluminium panels. Paint choice could be any colour used by the major manufacturers during the preceding ten years and Saab Cream was chosen to enhance the 1930s body style with a chocolate and cream Connolly leather interior and Wilton carpets.
Beneath the body, the car's stopping capability has been significantly improved by the change to vacuum brake servos, feeding Range Rover discs at the front with Ford Capri final drive assembly and drum brakes. As part of the build programme, the engine was also completely stripped and rebuilt.
The car's appearance has been enhanced by the choice of full running boards, two additional (detatchable) trunks on the folding luggage shelf at the rear, P100 headlamps combined with foglights and spotlights and large horns in front of the radiator; a good choice, it would seem, as Pauline Mallalieu said when she presented the vendor with the keys of the car on taking delivery in 1980, "I like to see our cars well dressed".
A short period of time after the car had been delivered, the Mallalieu Company went into liquidation. The company's senior managers searched for backers to keep the company going, even approaching previous car purchasers, although this did not uncover any enthusiastic backers.
The vendor of this particular one, however, delighted by the style and interest in his new acquisition, decided to secure the future of the workforce by acquiring the majority of the company, making a cash loan and in true Mallalieu style, grew the company back into prosperity.
A true Victor Kiam entrepreneurial acquisition.
Interested parties should note that the private number-plate is being retained and a new age-related one issued in its stead.
Interested parties should satisfy themselves as to the description and condition of each lot prior to the sale. Accordingly, buyers are on notice that each vehicle is offered ‘as is/as seen’ subject to the Terms and Conditions for the auction. Buyers are advised to inspect the vehicle in person or use a professional to carry out this service. Historics will not entertain disputes over descriptions.