1949 Bentley Mark VI Drophead Coupe
Bentley 1949 Mark VI Drop Head Coupe by HJ Mulliner
1949 Bentley Mark VI Drop Head Coupe
COACHWORK BY H.J. MULLINER & CO.
CHASSIS NO. B87EW
ENGINE NO. B293E
BODY NO. 5072
One of Only 12 Mark VIs Originally Fitted with Open Mulliner Coachwork
One of 5 using design 7121 with disappearing top
Numerous Bespoke Features and Details
Fascinating UK Provenance
Formerly the Property of Eva Borthwick-Norton
Offered from Long-Term, Single-Family Ownership
Eligible for RROC and BDC Tours and Events
4,257 CC F-Head Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Twin SU Carburetors
130 HP at 4,500 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Servo-Assisted Drum Brakes
Independent Coil-Spring Front Suspension
Live Rear Axle with Semi-Elliptical Springs
When Bentley unveiled the new Mark VI chassis towards the end of 1946, coachbuilders flocked to the new luxury car. H.J. Mulliner & Co. was responsible for 12 particularly attractive drop head coupes for the Mark VI. These marvelous hand-built bodies were among the last of the firm's designs to incorporate graceful Art Deco forms and details before a noticeable shift toward American-influenced styling occurred.
This handsome example presented is included in this exclusive group of Mulliner bodies and is one of just five that feature the elegant concealed-head design, internally designated 7121.
Chassis B87EW was completed in July 1951 and was originally ordered through John Croall & Sons for Eva S. Borthwick-Norton who, for many years, was regarded as one of the wealthiest landowners in Great Britain. Beyond her extensive estate holdings, Mrs. Borthwick-Norton was in possession of an impressive collection of fine art that included everything from significant Old Master paintings to Chippendale furniture.
Mrs. Borthwick-Norton, who was a friend of Wallis Simpson, owned the village of Southwick near Portsmouth, England, Her husband Hugh Pakenham Borthwick-Norton inherited a 7,500 acre estate which included Southwick from the Thistlethwayte family, in 1943 and on her death in 1988 aged 96, the entire village of Southwick, including two pubs, two churches, a post office and 67 houses went to Robin Thistlethwayte, a cousin.
However, Mr Robin Thistlethwayte did not inherit the original Southwick House, which the Ministry of Defence commandeered in 1940, renamed HMS Dryad, and has occupied ever since. It was there that General Dwight D Eisenhower and Winston Churchill planned and launched the D-Day invasion.
The name Thistlethwayte has a connection with Bentley history as 'Scrap' Thistlethwayte raced a 3 Litre Bentley in the 1926 Le Mans 24 hour race.
Mrs. Borthwick-Norton owned the car until 1953 when it was owned by Mrs. A. Harcourt-Woods from Oxford. In 1957 the owner is recorded as being A. Tillotson of Bolton, Lancashire, England. The UK registration number was VMG 58.
The first time the car was registered with the Bentley Drivers Club was when owned by Mr. Lee Mendell of California in 1980. He kept the car until at least 2007.
The car had engine B 293E fitted when new and had a Drophead Coupe body by H.J. Mulliner. This was Body number 5072 to design 7121 of which 5 cars were thus bodied, this being the last.
We have scans from Bernard King's book on the Bentley Mark VI to show the original car details and the details of H.J. Mulliner. At least three of the 5 cars are thought to still in existence. Also, we have scans of the Chassis Specification, a page of owners from the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts Club and 5 pages of the Spec from H.J.Mulliner.
According to H.J. Mulliner's records, the coachwork was originally specified in the family's preferred color, deep maroon, complemented by grey upholstery and highly figured walnut woodwork. The luxurious open Mark VI was appointed with ashtrays, Lucas mirrors, double-thickness floor mats, sun visors, a radio, a suitcase and a special arrangement for the spare tire. Of the limited series featuring this specific design, this was the last example built and the only one known to feature this elegant, unadorned trunk treatment.
At some time in the early 1960s, the Bentley made its way to California where it came into the care of its last owner. Over the past three decades, this coachbuilt Bentley has resided in Southern California and has been a great source of pride for its owner.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, a good deal of restoration work was undertaken, and a number of prominent Southern California Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialists have since serviced and maintained the car as needed.
Considering only half of the original Mark VI H.J. Mulliner Drop Heads are known to survive, this presents an exciting opportunity to acquire a distinctive, one-off Bentley with a superb provenance, great show potential and eligibility for a wide variety of RROC and BDC events."