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Car of the Month

More on Bentley in these books:

Bentley Continental Genesis

Bentley - 50 Years of the Marque




Car of the Month - July 2022
Bentley R Continental, 1955, #BC21D
Fixed Head Coupé by Franay

Bentley R Continental

The Bentley R Continental, #BC21D, received coachwork by Franay (France) and was delivered in February 1955 to a customer with the name Charles Perroud. At that time, an attractively designed sports car with exquisite roadholding was considered to herald the dawn of a new era and fitted seamlessly with the expectations of those who had suffered from an incredibly harsh period. The dreary years of wartime restrictions would be replaced by a promising future. This was true in Great Britain, where many items - including gasoline - were still rationed via coupons, and it was the same in almost all countries on the continent. Against such a background, the Bentley R Continental sparkled "in solitary splendour" as the fastest series-produced sports car in the world.

Bentley R Continental

Bentley had started post-war production with an entirely new model, the Bentley Mark VI, which however strongly did comply with "austerity", as that was determinant for the United Kingdom which still had to deal with enormous deficiencies due to destruction from the time of hostilities. It was not until around 1950 that the idea was tackled seriously of adding to the range a Bentley model with an emphatically sporty design. Planning was focussing on a two-door hatchback coupé, the bodies were to be built by H.J. Mulliner. However, in an almost microscopically small number the carmaker also supplied 'running chassis' to selected coachbuilders. They created bodies to their own designs and had to do so by obeying strict specifications given by the factory, e.g. as regards weight limits.

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Hhe sports variant of the mainstream model Bentley R was offered as 'Bentley Continental'. It differed from basic model not merely as regards exterior design. A considerable number of significant changes had also been made to the technical design in order to achieve superior performance compared with the standard Bentley R-Type. These technical modifications were always seen in conjunction with the dictate to rigorously focus on lightweight construction. Weight-reducing measures had resulted in a 250 kg saving over the standard version. This allowed brisker acceleration and considerably higher top speed. Test results published in magazines gave the Bentley R Continental a top speed of 188 km/h, whereas the standard version had a top speed of only 170 km/h. The Bentley R Continental was in a class of its own.

Bentley R Continental

The hatchback version by H.J. Mulliner forced to compromise by accepting a relatively limited storage volume for the boot. Franay's creation, on the other hand, had a tail design which permitted a large luggage compartment. .

Bentley R Continental

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