Myth Buster

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week -

Van­den Plas Princess 4-Litre R


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.


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.


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.

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