1949 Bentley Mark VI: Mysore 1 Goes Back to Its Birthplace
Images: Yohan Poonawalla Collection
Billionaire Indian Industrialist Yohan Poonawalla’s iconic Maharaja Bentley paid a visit to the Bentley Motors Factory based at Crewe in England, 73 years after it was born was there. The multi award-winning Mark VI Bentley, fondly referred to as the ‘rhubarb & custard car’ returned to the premises on 1st September 2022 for a memorable photo shoot.
The photo session took place at the factory and at the CW1 House—the purpose-built concept showroom at the headquarters of Bentley Motors Limited in Crewe. The colourful grand old car, which is always the cynosure of all eyes, drew the attention of staff and visitors.
The itinerary comprised of a factory tour, a luncheon, and a visit to view the Heritage fleet, where various models of the automaker and a treasure trove of historically significant Bentleys are on permanent display, including ‘GK 706’—the founder W.O. Bentley’s personal 8-litre Saloon; ‘EXP 2’—the world’s oldest surviving Bentley; ‘UU 5872’—Tim Birkin’s own Team Car no. 2, which raced at Le Mans; and the legendary ‘EXP Speed 8’—the car that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the automaker in 2003, 73 years after its previous win at Le Mans.
Also on display were the recreations, the continuation series ‘Blower’ and the plans for the continuation series ‘Speed Six', the brand’s successful venture aimed at reviving legendary models and perpetuating the mystique that surrounds them.
Commenting on the visit Yohan Poonawalla said, “It was a landmark occasion and a surreal moment to see ‘MYSORE 1’ back at the factory in UK, its birthplace, for the first time after it left for India in 1949. It was good to note the warm reception the car received, and the tours were truly engaging and enlightening. I would like to thank Bentley Motors and its lovely staff for the support and hospitality extended.”
Concours & Collector Car Consultant Mohammed Luqman Ali Khan said, “It was fascinating to see the two Bentleys ‘MYSORE 1 and ‘1 WO’ parked next to each other, representing the past and present of the brand, while the sensational all-electric concept ‘EXP 100’ GT Coupe offered a glimpse of the automaker’s plans for a sustainably responsible eco-friendly future and its commitment to the planet and its people.”
Chassis B-294-EY was coachbuilt by Hooper & Co as a Bentley Mark VI 4-light Saloon. In 1949, it was delivered new to the Maharaja of Mysore, Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar Bahadur, who was reportedly the then second richest man in the world after the Nizam of Hyderabad.
Finished in bright red & yellow, the car was personalized for the potentate and came with a range of extras and regalia. Special features included cabinets to the back of the front seats with flasks and a picnic set, a hollow armrest fitted with cut glass grooming kits with silver tops, open tray for spectacles, two suitcases in solid hide for the boot, folding trays, a recess in the top part of the rear seats to accommodate water bottles, a sandwich box, thermos flasks and silver breakers.
This was in addition to power-operated windows, two flag staffs, and shields in 24 carat gold and silver, an illuminated plaque fitted to the front and rear of the car, an illuminated plaque on the centre of the front of roof and engraved with the royal coat of arms of Mysore. The Mysore coat of arms is a recurring theme throughout the car and the ‘MYSORE 1’ number plate completes the royal car.
Restored to original specs and concours condition using factory blueprints and build sheets, the extraordinary car has since been shown at prestigious events in India and abroad. After its comprehensive rebuild, in 2020 it was first unveiled at the 21 Gun Salute Concours d’Elegance in India where it won the ‘Best of Show’ award.
In 2021 it was shown in the UK at the Salon Prive where it won the prestigious ‘Duke of Marlborugh Award’, and in 2022 it bagged the ‘Best in Class’ award and the ‘Rob Emberson Trophy’ at the RREC Annual Rally & Concours d’Elegance. The car also paid a visit to Hampton Court for a ‘Then & Now’ photo shoot held in 2022.
Steeped in history, this quintessential Maharaja car resides in the famed Yohan Poonawalla Collection based in Pune, India. A patron of the hallowed luxury British marque, the owner has collected a plethora of fine pre-war, post-war, and modern bespoke Bentleys.
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