Bentley R-Type Continental

The R-Type was the first Bentley to be offered with an automatic transmission. This four-speed auto quickly became the most popular choice: it actually offered a higher top speed than the manual and further increased the civility and refinement of the car.

The most famous and influential R-Type model, however, was the Continental. This two-door, four-seat vehicle, mechanically based on the R-Type saloon, had a body designed by Bentley chief stylist John Blatchley and built by HJ Mulliner. It was a lovely thing: flowing, extravagant bodywork, pronounced haunches, minimal front overhang. Inspired by the one-off pre-war Embiricos Bentley coupe, it became a seminal piece of post-war design. When Bentley Motors’ current design director Dirk van Braeckel sought inspiration for the new Continental GT, it was to the ‘50s R-Type Continental that - more than any other previous Bentley model - he turned. Just 208 were built from 1952 to 1954. With a top speed of 120mph, it was the fastest four-seat car in the world - just as the Continental GT would become 50 years later.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in May of 2011 at the Spazio Villa Erba, Cernobbio, Como and in June of 2011 at the Syon House, London.

155 bhp, 4,887 cc inlet-over-exhaust inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed automatic gearbox, coil spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel servo-assisted hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 3,048 mm (120")

Sources: Bentley press and RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Michel Zumbrunn and Tim Scott

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