Lot 45

Arizona 2014

1953 Bentley R-Type Drophead Coupe by Park Ward


$176,000 USD | Sold

United States | Phoenix, Arizona



Chassis No.
  • Accompanied by documentation from the Rolls-Royce Foundation
  • Reportedly one of just six right-hand drive models produced
  • Handsome Park Ward coachwork
  • Recent servicing by restorer Robert Lorkowski

Est. 132 hp, 4,566 cc inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with helical springs and hydraulic dampers, semi-elliptic rear springs with hydraulic dampers, hydraulic front and mechanical rear brakes with mechanical servo assist. Wheelbase: 120 in.

Following World War II, Rolls-Royce transferred production of its motor cars from Derby to its wartime aero-engine facility at Crewe. For the first time, the company built complete cars rather than chassis only. The first post-war Bentley to be built was the Mark VI, a virtual duplicate (sans radiator shell) of its sister, the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn. Standard bodies were styled by the company’s own designers, with ex-Gurney Nutting Chief Designer John Blatchley adding refinement. This was quite a change in philosophy by the parent company Rolls-Royce, yet it reflected the reality that standardized bodies could be built in greater numbers at its new factory in Crewe, England. Custom coachwork was, of course, available at the owner’s discretion.

Engine capacity was increased to 4,566 cubic centimeters in 1951, and the standard saloon body was revised with a longer boot in 1952. At the same time, chassis numbering had reached the R series, causing this model to become known as the R-Type in late-1952. This also marked the arrival of an optional automatic transmission with twin SU carburetors, which replaced a single Stromberg unit. A total of 2,325 R-Types in all configurations were produced through 1955.

Regarding the clothing of these chassis, Rolls-Royce/Bentley was the firm’s largest and most loyal customer, with a relationship dating back to 1919. As the demand for coachbuilt bodies declined, and to protect the supply of trained craftsmen, Rolls-Royce purchased rival H.J. Mulliner in 1959. In 1969, it bowed to the inevitable and merged the two firms, creating Mulliner Park Ward.

The Bentley offered here was first delivered to a Mr. George Dawson in October 1953, after having been fitted with handsome custom coachwork by Park Ward, and it is reported to be one of just six right-hand drive models built. The Black Cherry exterior presents well, and it is complemented by biscuit leather, which appears to be in very nice condition, as does the interior wood trim.

The sale of this lovely Bentley is also accompanied by a good amount of documentation, which includes the original Park Ward & Co. Power Hood Schematics; Bentley Hydraulic System Schematics; a copy of the original build card; a copy of the original registration documents; service history letters from 1975, 1981, and 1989; ownership history dating back to 1975; and an original transport letter from the UK to Maryland. Other items include a Park Ward Coachwork Album and the Bentley Power-Operated Hood System Manual.

After being acquired by its current owner several years ago, the Bentley was displayed at several events, winning a First in Class at a Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club National Meet, the Jack Frost Ladies’ Choice Trophy for Most Outstanding Car, and First Place at the 2013 Queen’s English All-British Car Show at Woodley Park, as well as Best Coachbuilt Car. To maintain the integrity of its mechanicals, it was also recently serviced by well-known Pebble Beach restorer Robert Lorkowski.

This nicely presented, rare and unusual Bentley would be most welcome at any Bentley Drivers Club meet.