It bears no resemblance to a standard steel Mark VI, and may be the most valuable Bentley in existence
This elegant 1947 Bentley Mk VI Franay Drophead Coupe, with its outrageous coachwork and curlicue trim, really belongs with Figoni et Falaschi and Saoutchik offerings at Sunday afternoon shows in the Bois de Boulogne before WWII.
Considering its underpinnings stem from the mundane Bentley Mk VI, this car’s appearance in 1947 is doubly remarkable. It’s as if a dumpy librarian gave birth to Catherine Deneuve or Jeanne Moreau.
The immediate post-war years were dark times for Rolls-Royce. The Empire was in ruins, and it was penniless. Britain’s motto was “Export or Die” and Rolls-Royce was forced to take the low road, like Packard in the 1930s with its 120 models.
The Bentley Mk VI was the first Rolls-Royce produced with a standard steel body. It sold for 4,038 pounds, including purchase tax-still about twelve times the cost of a new Ford. Powered by a new six-cylinder F-Head engine (overhead intake, side-mounted exhaust valves), the Bentley Mk VI was a large four-door saloon, fitted with a sliding sunshine roof.
Fortunately, some of the 4,000 chassis produced were consigned to coachbuilders, as in pre-war years. And this particular car was commissioned by a French industrialist who was bent and determined to prove that the French carrosserie wasn’t dead.
The basic saloon is a far cry from this roadster, but it’s many an enthusiast’s introduction to classic motoring, even though the cost of restoring one can be several times its market value. However, once repaired, a Mk VI is relatively inexpensive to maintain and many are daily drivers. An honest Bentley Mk VI standard steel saloon can be fairly bought for less than $30,000, but the subject 1947 Franay Drophead Coupe here is clearly anything but standard.