In January 2017, while we were at Yamba on a rally with the Veteran Car Club of Australia (Queensland), my friend Mark told me of a 1955 R Type Bentley for sale at Maclean. It was a short drive away and an interesting car, so we arranged to visit.
In addition to Bertha, which the owner’s late husband had affectionately called the Bentley, there was a 1989 Rolls Royce stored under the house. I surmised that the seller knew how to look after quality vehicles, and Bertha was in great condition with only 77,400 miles, very low for this type of car. I immediately fell in love with her.
But buying a car was a joint decision, and I held my breath while Diane examined Bertha. Finally she said “Lovely car”, so I wiped the happy smile from my face and began to negotiate with the owner.
Bertha had been idle since 2014 and needed some TLC. A major problem the owner had mentioned was a misfire in number one cylinder. A worst case rebuild might cost $10,000 or even $15,000, so we settled on a price which reflected some of this risk, and Bertha became ours on 6 January 2017, Di’s birthday.
l had Bertha moved by truck to my sister’s shed at Birkdale, where I began bringing her back to a condition I could be proud of. The most worrying problem was the misfire, and a compression test confirmed that number one cylinder was down.
But my research told me that Bentley R Type engines have phosphor bronze exhaust valve guides which can sometimes stick through lack of lubrication. So I tried upper-cylinder lubricant and fuel additive, and the car immediately leapt to life on all six! Then I took it for what we in the business call an Italian Tune‑up, and it performed beautifully.
Well, almost beautifully. The strenuous tune‑up revealed a blown exhaust manifold gasket, and I subsequently fixed problems with the starter motor and electric choke. But these were very minor for a vehicle over 60 years old which had sat idle for several years. I’m exceptionally happy with Bertha, and am proud to own her.
Specifications 1955 R Series Bentley Saloon
Country of origin: England
Owners: Albert and Diane Budworth
Engine: 4.6 Litre 6 Cylinders in line; overhead inlet and side exhaust valves. Compression Ratio 6.4:1
Fuel system: Twin SU Type H6 Carburettors; twin SU Type L electric fuel pumps Transmission: Automatic (hydramatic); three forward speed ranges, neutral and reverse
Brakes: Hydraulic on front wheels; mechanical on rear wheels
Front: Independent suspension with coil springs controlled by hydraulic dampers; anti-roll torsion bar fitted.
Rear: Semi elliptic leaf springs controlled by hydraulic dampers.
Ignition: Distributor Delco Remy with twin contacts; Lucas 12 volt coil.
Source : “The Bayside Vehicle Restorers Club Inc. Magazine”