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Bentley MK VI Cresta

Chassis

#B323CD #B447CD

The Bentley Cresta Pininfarina MK VI fastback.

Vehicle Overview

The Bentley MK VI Cresta emerged from the creative collaboration between Italian designer Pinin Farina and French-British automotive influence. Initiated by Jean Daninos, the founder of Facel-Métallon, and influenced by Walter Sleator, head of Rolls-Royce’s French agency Franco Britannic, the project aimed to combine Bentley’s performance pedigree with cutting-edge design. Sleator, known for his advocacy of high-performance Bentleys, contributed ideas that aligned with his vision of powerful and stylish luxury vehicles. The significance of this commission for Pinin Farina was considerable. Following a devastating fire in December 1946 that destroyed his factory in Turin, the Italian designer was in urgent need of lucrative projects. A commission from a French customer, which allowed for exhibition at the prestigious Paris Salon, was a golden opportunity. The resulting design, code-named “Cresta,” was a striking two-door fastback saloon that received widespread acclaim when it debuted at the 1948 Paris Salon. This initial success led to further interest at the 1949 Geneva Salon, prompting Daninos to arrange for a series production by Facel-Métallon. Bentley’s support was crucial for the project’s continuation. After initial resistance from the board, Bentley modified the original Pinin Farina radiator design to conform more closely to standard series specifications. With this compromise, Bentley provided the MK VI chassis equipped with a special steering rake suitable for the car’s low roofline. Additional modifications included a lower radiator header tank and scuttle, and a shorter, more raked steering column. These changes, along with a higher final drive ratio, underscored the car’s high-speed aspirations. The prototype (chassis number B323CD) was entirely handcrafted by Pinin Farina in Turin. Production of the series was undertaken by Facel-Métallon, with the first completed car, chassis number B447CD, ordered by Count Manuel A. Matos. Though records suggest that seventeen Bentley Cresta Pininfarinas were made, only eleven are verifiably identified by their chassis numbers. These vehicles were constructed in separate workshops from mainstream Facel production until 1950, serving an international clientele. This rakish two-door, four-seater coupe, crafted from aluminum and steel, stands as one of the most significant Bentleys ever created. It arguably bridges the gap between the pre-war Bentley Corniche and the post-war Bentley Continental, marking a pivotal moment in automotive design and performance.

Bentley Cresta Pininfarina

Technical Specifications

  • Body
  • Year
    1948
  • Make
    Bentley
  • Model
    MK VI
  • Coachbuilder
    Pininfarina
  • Length (mm)
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  • Width (mm)
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  • Height (mm)
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  • Units built
    17
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  • Colour
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  • Type Approval
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  • Wheel Plan
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  • Revenue Weight
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