The Bentley Mk.6 and the MG.
The Y Type in Focus.
If you own a M.G. Y Type, you will have found yourself explaining to Mr. Average about its manufacturer. How often has your car been called a ‘Riley’ or similar? Very few these days have even heard of the M.G. One and a Quarter Litre, let alone seen one. This does bring an element of snobbery to owning one, in that they are now a rare car. But it seems to becoming more common for classic car enthusiasts to come up to you at car shows and rallies asking about the car. I tell them that it is a small version of the Bentley Mk6.
Why do I do that? Well, because the Y Type is of a style popular in the 1930s, which was of course when the car was first seen on paper in the Cowley drawing office, and later in the metal in early 1939 ready for the London Motor Show. This had to be cancelled due to us declaring war on Germany. Well, another company was also caught rather short as well at the same time, doing the very same thing. Rolls Royce had finally decided to begin to build their very own ‘Standard Steel Saloon’ on their chassis they normally supplied to the carriage trade. They were not about to churn out mass-produced cars like Ford, Austin and Morris did, but they did design a hull for their Bentley model. Yes, it looked very similar to our Y Type with its big flowing front wings, running boards and sloping boot. It was also a four door saloon with independent front suspension, live rear axle but its windscreen did not open. One up to M.G. then.
Both the M.G Y type and the Bentley Mk6 (or MkVI to state it correctly) were eventually introduced to the UK car market in the late 1940s. Rolls Royce were treading very carefully as they did not sell their ‘Standard Steel Saloon’ as a Rolls for some time. They were testing the market with the Mk6. The body panels were pressed out of mild-steel sheet by ‘Pressed Steel Fisher’, the same company who stamped out your Y Type panels. Like other cars made from mild steel directly after WW2 the quality of the steel was none too good, but it was all that was available. Consequently the Bentley Mk6 has suffered the ravages of the tin-worm and not too many have survived. Restoring such a car is horrendously expensive (Y Types are not cheap either).
Rolls Royce did eventually market a Standard Steel Saloon Rolls using the same body as the Mk6, calling it the ‘Silver Dawn’. When did you last see one of them? The Silver Dawn used all the same equipment as the Mk6, but the engine was de-tuned a little to give the RR more flexibility.
Whilst Rolls Royce replaced these two in-house bodied cars in 1955 with the better ‘S’ type and ‘Silver Cloud’, M.G. had given up trying to sell a 1930s styled car earlier in 1953. You could buy five M.G. Y Types or one Bentley Mk6 for the same price…
Article written by Neil Cairns.