Curbside Classic: Jaguar, Imperial and the Bentley


When we saw the Austin A125 Sheerline last week, a few commentators asked about the other vintage Brit lurking in the background. There were in fact a few other rare luxury liners sharing the same berth as the Austin. Let’s take a look at them today.



Sitting right next to the Austin A125 is a Jaguar Mk VIII or IX with a few cosmetic customizations. The Jaguar Mk VIII and IX were large sporting saloons that shared their 3.4L inline six engine with the XK140 sports car. They inherited their ten foot wheelbase from the very similar looking Mk VII predecessor. The most visible exterior upgrade was the move to a one piece curved windshield rather than a split two piece one.  For the MkVIII, Jaguar upped the quality of the interior fit and finish. This particular example shows off how well these cars look in a two tone paint scheme, but it has suffered a super fly style front end treatment at some point its life. The over sized head lamp covers give it a sort of bug eyed look, though I’d imagine the customizer was going for a Rolls Royce look.

Jaguar rear

The Jaguar Mk VIII or the early IX are almost identical from the outside except for a “Mk IX” badge on the rear of the Mk IX. This car doesn’t have one or any obvious holes where one might have been so I think we can tentatively label it as 1 of 6,227 Mk VIIIs made between 1956 and 1958. An automatic badge just above the rear bumpers notes that this car would have been built with a Borg Warner three-speed automatic. Apart from the questionable customization, this Jaguar looked to be in much better shape than the Austin.


Moving along we come to a a 1964 or 1965 Imperial. I couldn’t get a front shot which would have narrowed down exactly what year it is. These Elwood Engel designed Imperials offer an interesting and asymmetrical license plate mounting at the far left side of the bumper. The logo in the middle of the bumper is a fuel door cover. This one was in the best condition by far of all the cars. Not surprisingly, this car is now gone and the Brits still remain.

Bentley Mk VI

Next car along is a Bentley Mk VI which could be the most desirable car of the lot, but is sadly in the most rough condition. While the grill surround is still there, the inner mesh is missing along with the headlights, mirrors and part of the front bumper. Strongly related to the Rolls Royce Silver Dawn, the Bentley Mk VI was the first all steel bodied car delivered straight from the Rolls Royce factory with a standard, factory built body. A bare chassis could, of course, be supplied to your favorite coachbuilder as well.

Bentley brakes

Built from 1946 to 1952, these Bentleys featured a separate chassis with coil springs at the front and semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. Steering was handled with a cam and roller system. The drum brakes were hydraulic at the front and mechanical at the rear. Like many upper level cars of the day, the Bentley featured a centralized chassis lubrication system operated by a foot pedal. Good thing as the owner’s manual recommends lubrication once a day and again with every hundred miles driven. Interestingly, the Bentley has the exact same ten foot long wheelbase as the Jaguar above.

A 4,257 cc (4 14-litre as quoted by Bentley) inline six engine with a F-type head was the initial power plant for the Mk VI and in typical Bentley/Rolls Royce tradition, its power was rated as “sufficient.” In 1951, a slightly larger 4,566 cc version of this engine known as the 4 12-litre was fitted. Both engines were fitted with twin SU carburetors and an electric fuel pump. A four speed manual with syncromesh on 2nd, 3rd and 4th routed power to a live rear axle with a 3.73:1 ratio.

Bentley Mk VI interior

The interior is rough and the missing or open driver’s side window probably didn’t help. At least it looks complete but I’d imagine anything beyond the metal fixtures, gauges and steering wheel would be a total loss.

Bentley Mk VI rear

The rear displays the Bentley’s unusual door arrangement with suicide fronts and conventionally opening rears. The cars still wears the stock 16″ steel rims but the hubcaps are missing. Production of the Mk VI ended in 1952 with a total of 6,214 of all variations being produced. The similar looking R-Type took over with an extended trunk area among other improvements.

1929 Oldsmobile

The last car in line is what I believe to be a 1929 Oldsmobile Six two-door sedan. The Oldsmobile would have featured a 62hp L-head inline six engine and would have offered a nice ride for the day with its hydraulic shocks.

1929 Oldsmobile Six

There is a whole 1929 Oldsmobile brochure available for virtual perusing at the Old Brochures site. With its bright green paint, I suspect the 1929 Olds operates mostly as a sign or yard art for the denture clinic on whose property these once grand cars sit. The others will perhaps find new owners one day to breathe life back into them.