It appears, looking at the invoices on file, that the Bentley had been partially restored in 1991, but it was in need of a complete rebuild when purchased by the Seller in 2002. This commenced in 2003 with a complete strip down. There are photographs on file showing the rebuild, starting with the bare aluminium shell. The ash frame was repaired where required and all parts were refurbished. By 2004 the Bentley was ready for paint in two tone green with a fine matching pinstripe. The interior was partially re-trimmed, with new carpets, new headlining and the burr walnut dash and interior fittings were restored. All the exterior trim was re-chromed, and new Goodyear tyres fitted. Over the years the Bentley had lost its original registration, but this was tracked down and returned to the car. The Bentley boasts its original R Type engine and gearbox, with numbers that match the Bentley work sheet and order. The body still wears its James Young production tag. The only change was the removal of the trafficators during the body restoration, and the addition of subtle, period style indicators to the front wings and below the rear bumper.
The mileage of 43, 979 is thought to be genuine, with some paperwork in the file that helps to corroborate this. In 1974, when Lt. Cmdr. Rowbottom had some bodywork addressed the mileage was 15, 861, the next clue is an MoT from 1988 at 41, 273, and finally a valuation from 2015 at 42, 965 miles. It does seem unlikely that the Bentley covered 115, 000 miles between 1952 and 1974.
The history file is quite substantial. In addition to the copious correspondence between Jack Barclay, James Young and Mr Cridland, there are lots of invoices and bills from the late 1950s and plenty from the more recent restoration in the early 2, 000s. The most recent is for a full service by Wilton Morgan Engineering, Rolls Royce and Bentley specialists in April 2023.
The exterior of the Bentley is in superb condition, with beautifully applied paint with a deep glossy shine. The panel gaps are all consistent, and the doors close perfectly. The chrome is all in good condition, with no dents, and the glass areas are immaculate. The imposing headlights and driving lamps are all free of stone chips, and give the Bentley great presence on the road.
The interior is spectacular, with much expense over the past years to get it to this level. The rear seats have recently been re-trimmed; the carpets are clean and fit well. All the options ordered for the Bentley when new are present, including working electric windows, twin heaters and the dual drinks cabinets complete with decanters and glasses. The rear blind pulls up via a cord in the roof lining, and there are also sliding doors beside the rear seats concealing lit vanity units with separate mirrors. The interior Burr Walnut woodwork is exceptional, much of it inlaid, with glossy fold down tables in the rear, matching door cappings, and a full width dash. The original Smiths HMV Radiomobile radio is still present although Mr. Cridland’s inflatable cushion driver’s seat is however no longer in the Bentley.
Looking beneath the Bentley it is obvious that it has been well stored and driven minimally since restoration. Apart from a little road dirt the underside appears to be in freshly restored condition.
This Mk VI chassis was ordered in 1951 from Jack Barclay Ltd Bentley in Hanover Square to be fitted with bodywork by James Young Coachbuilders. It was purchased by a Mr C E T Cridland, Chairman of Aldis Bros of Birmingham, makers of projectors, lenses and signalling equipment for the MoD. The chassis, complete with its larger R Type 4. 5 litre “big bore” engine, was sent to James Young’s premises in Bromley, Kent, arriving in November 1951. Originally ordered for a Mr. Rotinoff, it appears he decided to buy a Wraith instead, so chassis B82NZ was assigned job number 1631 at Young’s, to be built in body style C10. BM for Mr. Cridland (original note on file). Only thirty aluminium Mk VI Bentleys were built by James Young in the 2 door, four light Coupe style between 1950 and 1952, of these only eight were equipped with the “big bore” R Type engine, this being the first.
There is a substantial amount of correspondence on file between Jack Barclays, James Young and Mr. Cridland and his wife regarding the various options, colour and specification of the Bentley. A copy of the original works build sheet for the chassis and engine, and the James Young body are in the file, plus letters from Mr. Cridland regarding an inflatable driver’s seat cushion that was obviously an important option! A handwritten note even offers to supply a Doctor’s note, for what we can but guess! There are listed extra options including thinner James Young front and rear bumpers, wheel discs, cold air ducts to add to the twin heaters, and an extended bonnet. Already included were electric windows, Smiths radio with electric aerial and Driver’s and Passenger side decanters and glasses concealed behind sliding screens within the doors. Resplendent in its two tone paintwork of Velvet Green and Fir Green, with cream leather and beige carpets it cost in excess of £5, 700; in 1952 that would have bought four new Jaguar XK120s with change!
First registered as MFX688 in Birmingham in March 1952 it was owned by Mr. Cridland until 1955 and it subsequently by Thakenham Tiles, Clarendon Carriage Company, Lt. Commander Rowbottom RN and Desmond Smail.
Having owned the Bentley since 2002, and despite having gone to great expense to completely restore it, an upcoming move to the West Country means it is time for it to be sold. One of only a handful built by James Young, and the first of just eight with the more powerful R Type engine it must be amongst the best of its type in existence. Despite its rarity and condition it is being offered for a fraction of what it has cost to restore.