I saw Mike Bradley’s Mk. VI Bentley conversion at Silverstone—it must be five years ago—and was immensely impressed by its appearance, performance and obvious quiet good behaviour.
Mr. Bradley and others have seen in the wrecked or scrapped Mk. VI, scrapped usually because rust has taken the body beyond recall leaving the chassis largely unaffected, the possibility of an effective—but, please, not cheap and certainly not nasty—competition car acceptable in Bentley Drivers’ Club events. I saw that possibility and others—for example:
1. A shopping car for my wife.
2. A pleasant car for summer visiting, touring, in Continental Europe.
3. A simple mechanically, elegant, totally dependable car.
In my opinion car largevity and reliability left the drawing office when the salesmen told the designers the public wanted “streamlined” coachwork—since this led inevitably and quickly to wing shapes, which first concealed vital working parts, and then almost actively prevented access to them. The brake parts, steering and the spring now rot away unseen and largely forgotten—hence in part the MoT test. Walk up—particularly to a vintage Bentley—with very little difficulty you can see all the stopping and steering parts, so you can keep them clean so they will be maintained. If you don’t do it yourself you can easily see that the chap you paid to do it has.
So wrap-around (allegedly aerodynamic) bodies lead to forgotten maintenance and our present salt-controlled car economy—the modern salt tax if you think about it.
And then, of course, we did away with the chassis so now there isn’t anything left to repair—I can’t afford modern cars. I am surprised in this cost-conscious era that anyone else can either: afford, or, more important, justify. Hence my open touring Mk. VI. If it looks like a much earlier car than it really is—with open VDP-shaped body and unvalanced wings—then this is not because I want (or need) an “imitation Bentley” but simply that this seems to me the best way to protect myself from the climate while leaving the important parts easy to see and clean—just by walking round the car.
My first Mk. VI has taken just four years—and my wife is delighted with it. I hope the one I’m just starting won’t take quite so long—it’s for myself.