Debunking the most common old wives’ tales
Vanden Plas Princess 4-Litre R
1 BMC’S GRAB AT PRESTIGE
The 4-Litre R was the result of a joint venture between the British Motor Corporation and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. The project was intended to produce a nimbler and more affordable Bentley. Rolls had a change of heart but BMC pressed ahead, and the R went on sale in 1964. Bodywork was a modified version of the Austin A110 Westminster, with a new subframe, steering box and rear axle. The engine was supplied by Roll-Royce.
2 TRUCK ENGINE FROM ROLLS
In fact, this specific motor never appeared in anything other than this car, and it was certainly not a truck or military vehicle unit. Called the FB60, it was part of a modular family of B-series power units that included the six-cylinder engine in the Silver Cloud, and a four-cylinder edition in the Austin Champ off-roader. Unlike the Cloud’s lump, the FB60 was an all-aluminium unit with a shorter stroke, hydraulic tappets and twin SU carburettors.
3 TYPICAL SIXTIES STODGE
The opposite is true. There’s 176bhp on tap from a relatively light engine, and that meant the car could cruise at 90mph and reach a top speed of 110mph. Not quite as rapid as its chief rival the Jaguar MkX, but it was no slouch. Cornering was where the 4-Litre R let itself down, flailing about like most other big BMC saloons. Mistreated engines can cause big rebuild bills but, with 6000-mile oil and filter changes and careful avoidance of overheating, some owners reckon they’re good for 250,000. The top-notch paintjob from Vanden Plas helped to slow the rampant rust endemic to these big barges. Giles Chapman
The VdP 4-Litre R was initially meant to be an affordable Bentley barge.