Bentley is promoting the 2016 Continental GT Speed by uniting it with the 1952 R-Type Continental which was the first Bentley to wear the Continental moniker.

Bentley is promoting the 2016 Continental GT Speed by uniting it with the 1952 R-Type Continental which was the first Bentley to wear the Continental moniker.

Billed as the "world’s first Grand Tourer," the R-Type Continental featured aluminum body work and a 4.5-liter (4566cc) inline six-cylinder engine that produced 153 hp (114 kW).  That doesn't sound like much by today's standards but it enabled the car to become the fastest four-seater in the world with a top speed of 120 mph (193 km/h).

The model proved to be a success and Bentley would go on to produce 208 units, many of which were coachbuilt by Mulliner.  This is even more surprising as the R-Type Continental cost £6,928 which was nearly fifteen times the average annual salary in Britain and more than three and a half times as expensive as the average house.

The R-Type Continental is over sixty years old but it still holds an special place in Bentley's heart as the company explains as the car's three basic design cues - a "striking power line, muscular rear haunches and swooping, fast roof line" - have remained a fundamental part of the brand's DNA.

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Bentley highlights the 1952 R-type Continental [video]