1949 Bentley Mark VI Oxford Special by Mallalieu
Serial Number B133FU, Mallalieu Job Number 007
Coachwork by Wilkinson Ltd. Bodies
Dark Red with Biscuit Interior
During the 1970s, Mallalieu Engineering Ltd. built around fifty special-bodied cars based on the Bentley Mark VI or R-Type. Built to high standards for discerning clients, the Mallalieu Bentleys combined the well-engineered mechanicals of the Mark VI with their own evocative bodies which recalled the coachbuilt Derby Bentleys of the 1930s.
Founded by enthusiast and Bugatti owner/driver of considerable renown, Derry Mallalieu, the Oxfordshire, UK company distinguished themselves by fabricating exceptionally crafted bodies of their own design from 1974-1981. Utilizing the venerable Bentley Mark VI platform, Mallalieu created carefully executed cars that were not simply rebodied, but were significantly re-engineered with clever modifications to the chassis and driveline. Though the first cars were constructed as prototypes in the early 1970s, these cars exhibited enough promise to warrant entry into limited serial production. Early cars were constructed first with ash-framed coachwork with hand formed aluminum panels, later adopting steel frames resulting in more robust construction. During assembly, the Mark VI was completely dismantled and the chassis was lowered through a conversion to underslung configuration. The spring rates and damper settings for the coil and wishbone suspension were changed for the new chassis arrangement. The engine was moved back and lowered in the chassis to create a more performance-oriented mid-bias weight distribution. The big feature however was the handsome low-slung two-seat body design, which Mallalieu called the Oxford. A considerably less handsome four seat version was also made, which the company referred to as the Barchetta.
Once the hand made aluminum body was mated to the chassis, a new low profile radiator was fitted, and various assorted Bentley components were refitted throughout the car. Nearly all of the Mark VIs mechanical parts were reconditioned and reassembled to original specifications. Each of the cars was trimmed in leather and fine materials, specific to a customers special order. Finished cars sold for approximately the same price as a brand new Bentley or Rolls Royce, but each Mallalieu offered far more charm and individualist character. Beautifully designed and cleverly engineered, the lightweight Oxford benefited from the robust Bentley brakes (built for heavier cars), twin carbureted 4.5 liter six-cylinder engine, and surprisingly light and responsive steering. The improved suspension and handling characteristics resulted in a balanced and well-mannered road car. Though each car was well made (taking six months to complete) and decidedly bespoke, the price was too high to attract the volumes of buyers needed to sustain production, especially during these economically uncertain times in the United Kingdom. Sadly, Derry Mallalieu passed away in 1975, although the business continued to carry on through family interest. Varied accounts regarding the number of cars built range from 36-50 cars depending on how one counts the various vehicles that remained incomplete when the company dissolved. Today it is a rare sight indeed to find an Mallalieu Oxford, particularly in North America where only a few cars have been imported.
This rare Oxford roadster has been lovingly maintained since new and remains today in very nice driver condition throughout. The current owner had the car serviced in April 2017 including changing all fluids and filters, carburetor adjustments, new points and condensor, some brake work, and various other service items totaling over $2,800. Today, the car exhibits a nice cohesive appearance throughout. The paint is glossy with even coverage, showing minor road chips and some evidence of use and aging throughout. There is an area of peeling paint on the right rear fender. The beautiful front fender lines follow back in classic form with distinct pointed tips, accented by the absence of running boards and the low hood and cowl line. The sculpted fenders trim the profile of the car, giving it a tailored appearance of distinct European flair. The unique chrome grille, headlights, and bumpers are all very nicely done with good to very good chrome finish. Throughout the exterior, delightful details such as the racing inspired fuel filler, aluminum trim, and central hinged hood evoke a handsome and authentic 1930s character. The nicely finished original style Mark VI wheels and wheel covers feature polished aluminum rims and Bentley wheel covers painted to match the body.
The interior is very well laid out and is presented in much the way a Bentley would have been in the 1930s. The original Bentley switchgear and instruments are accented by a large diameter wood rimmed wheel featuring the Bentley center hub controls. The wood veneered dash will likely benefit from refinishing as much of the surface veneer has aged over time. The seats and door panels are nicely trimmed in tan leather with matching deep red piping and have a nice patina. The carpet is lightly aged from use but in all, the interior has a cozy and charming vintage British feel to it, presentable as is or suitable to selectively restore later. The top and top boot materials are all in good condition. The car has power seats, however currently only the drivers side functions.
Under the hood, the 4.5 liter Bentley engine has been very nicely finished and presents majestically with a matching red engine block and a handmade Mallalieu branded polished aluminum valve cover and air intake box. The engine and engine compartment are nicely finished with handsome and proper vintage materials. The firewall bears both the Bentley Motors chassis plate and the Mallalieu identification plate, which together identify the car as chassis number B133FU and Mallalieu serial number 007. The Mallalieu plate identifies this as a car with coachwork by Wilkinson Ltd., who built the early Oxford cars. The aluminum intake manifold and carburetors have been beautifully polished to a high luster, proudly conveying the Bentley history and bespoke hand made components. The underside of the car and exposed suspension have been well-preserved and remain in nice structural condition, showing very handsome paint and finish work that has been done to a high standard.
The car starts almost instantly and settles into a quiet idle. The exhaust has been modified to provide a throaty and sporting exhaust note at higher engine speeds. The engine has excellent carburetion and pulls cleanly through the rev range, displaying good torque but also a willingness to rev. The lighter weight of the Oxford body makes for genuinely swift acceleration and the entire car has an impressively sporting character that makes it a pleasure to drive. The gearchange has a wonderfully mechanical feel with well-defined gates and very effective synchromesh on upper gears (first is unsynchronized). The clutch is progressive and easy to use and the brakes have good initial bite and stop the car authoritatively given that they were designed for a much heavier car. The steering is precise with no slop and allows the driver to place the car on the road very accurately. The suspension is competent and the car has remarkable road holding. It is genuinely fun to drive quickly and surprisingly similar in feel to a Jaguar XK120. The long legged Continental differential ratio allows sensible and effortless cruising at speed.
Beautifully finished, rare, and finely maintained over the past years, this Bentley Special by Mallalieu conveys all the charm and character of the finest British coachbuilt cars. With its unique Wilkinson coachwork, the delightful driver condition allows enthusiasts a chance to truly experience the delights of ownership, the pleasure of open motoring, and the charm of a hand crafted automobile constructed by dedicated and passionate craftsman of a bygone era.
This 1949 Bentley Mk VI Special was listed for sale on 6-16-18 12:08:42. The vehicle color is Dark Red and VIN is
. Kindly check ad for seller's location. Seller`s stock ID is fantaFJ2233. There are other Bentley cars currently listed for sale on our website. You may desire to see what other Bentley cars are selling for by visiting our Sales Data page.
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