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Bentley Continental

 

 

 

Car of the Month - February 2017
Bentley R Continental, 1956, #BC9LE
Fixed Head Coupé by Franay (Paris)


Bentley R Continental

The Bentley Continental with chassis-no. #BC9LE is the final one of 208 cars made of this exclusive model variant. In the form of a Fixed Head Coupé by Franay, a coachbuilder from the French capital, in May 1955 the car was delivered to Monsieur M. Choumart.

Instead of the model's designation Bentley Continental over the later years for enhanced separation the term Bentley R Continental became common. When launched this had been the world’s fastest 4-seater sports car from series-production. To achieve that the manufacturer in addition to technical modifications when compared with specifications of the basic version insisted on very rigid weight restrictions as regards body and interior. The factory merely delivered the 'running chassis' which was then completed with bodies to various design by independent coachbuilders. For the Bentley R Continental the lion’s share came from H.J. Mulliner who delivered 193 Fastback Coupés. The rest was made, with but very low figures each, with coachwork by Pinin Farina, Italy, and by Carosserie Graber, Switzerland, and by Park Ward, United Kingdom.

From the very start onward Bentley R Continental were cars with a special reputation; over the decades there status has become one that makes each single on an icon. Results from extremely careful research on the history and technical development of these rarities have been published in many books and reports. Worth a note are the fascinating details provided by Martin Bennett in his book "Bentley Continental, Corniche & Azure".

Hereunder you’ll find an explanation as regards an obscurity that even a highly knowledgeable expert like Stanley Sedgwick, who had owned for many years the prototype of the Bentley R Continental, found an enigma. As regards #BC9LE Stanley Sedgwick in his compendium BENTLEY 'R' TYPE CONTINENTAL (BDC, Long Crendon 1978) on page 62 quoted from the factory documents: "Visible indication of oil level in braking system".

One point is the Bentley R Continental had only front-brakes hydraulically operated; rear brakes were operated by rods. Another point is that brake fluid was used and NOT oil. It was decades later that Rolls-Royce, who did own the Bentley brand from the 30ies til the end of the 90ies, on their brake systems switched from brake fluid to a special mineral oil. So what on earth was ment by the note "Visible indication of oil level in braking system" in the "Chassis Card Details", i.e. the factory documents on #BC9LE listing all specifications and production notes?

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 Brake Fluid Reservoir

The explanation were individual legislation varying in countries on the Continent and such administrative barriers ignited modifications. In France during the 50ies a new law demanded a "transparent container for brake fluid" (and that rule was taken over e.g. in Belgium, too). Thus should be guaranteed that at a quick glance it was obvious if perhaps due to a leak the level of brake fluid in the hydraulic system was below a critical level.

Bentley R Continental



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