Earlier this month, Capel Manor House was used as a backdrop for a forthcoming feature in Classic and Sports Car magazine.
The cars are a 1950 Jaguar MkV and a 1951 Bentley MkVI – two sporting luxury saloons from the early post-war period.
They make an interesting comparison. The Jaguar was the first modern Jaguar in some ways, but in other ways it harked back to the pre-war era. It was a transitional vehicle, in fact. The chassis was all-new, and had Jaguar’s first independent front suspension system, but the engine was the pushrod 3.5-litre engine used pre-war rather than the famous twin-cam XK unit first seen in the XK120 sports car of 1948. The body was made in the old-fashioned way, with lots of small pressings welded together, and was a half-way house between the pre-war style of Jaguar and the more modern all-enveloping look that came in with the subsequent MkVIII.
The Bentley, meanwhile, marked a departure for Rolls-Royce, who had owned the Bentley name since 1931. It was the company’s first car to be supplied with a standard body; until then, one chose one’s body style from an independent outside coachbuilder. With independent front suspension and a new six-cylinder engine, it was technologically more modern than pre-war Bentleys, and priced more affordably than the old coachbuilt cars. Despite its conservative styling, the Bentley was still regarded as a sporting saloon, and with a 4.5-litre engine it had the promise of easier performance than the Jaguar – and enjoyed a much more prestigious reputation.
Only made between 1948 and 1951, the Jaguar was a serious competitor to the Bentley, offering strong performance, good road behaviour and a luxurious interior, all for a much lesser pricer. But was the Bentley worth the extra money, even so? That was the question to which Senior Contirbutor, Jon Pressnell of Classic and Sports Car magazine, was keen to find the answer…
For the photo-shoot, photographer Tony Baker took a mix of static shots of the two cars together, followed by interiors and details. He then shot actions in front of the Manor, using the panning technique. This means that he takes up a position well back from the road and then ‘machine-guns’ the cars with a long lens, as they pass by his position at a steady speed.
The feature will appear in an edition of Classic and Sports Car later this year.