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More Bentleys in these books:

M.Bennet: Bentley Continental, Corniche & Azur


Rolls-Royce and Bentley

 

 

 

Car of the Month - September 2007
Bentley R Continental,  1953, #BC9B
H.J. Mulliner Fastback Saloon


Bentley R Continental

With a production figure of just a few more than 200 the Bentley Continental is a very rare motor car. But then in the early 50ies there were but a few connaisseurs wealthy enough to invest the breathtaking high amount that was necessary to purchase one. They got the fastest four-seater sports car in the world that was built in series. Drivetrain and chassis were almost identical to that of the Bentley R-Type (although development had started with the pre-decessor Bentley Mark VI and indeed early cars were on Bentley Mark VI chassis). The 2-Door Fastback Saloon was built by H.J. Mulliner; only a tiny fraction of these particular model's chassis were made available to other coachbuilders.

Bentley R Continental

Some careful tuning was executed: higher compression ratio, different gearbox and the exhaust system was a straight through, two chamber (one about twice the volume of the other) with a larger diameter downpipe. But most of the extra performance was achieved by reduced weight, reduced drag and reduced frontal area. In the end tyre technology set the limit – there simply didn't exist tyres that could stand the stress of this rather heavy car being driven at very high speed for any considerable long distance. Hence Rolls-Royce – at that time they had Bentley under their wings – decided not to lay out the car for a top speed in excess of 120mph. The Bentley R Continental were fitted with a speedometer reading up to 140mph though whereas the standard version showed one whose range ended at 120mph.

Bentley R Continental Dashboard

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Bentley R-Type and Continental R

Shown here side by side are a 1954 Bentley R, #B77WG, in that form that was delivered ex-factory as a ‘Standard Steel Sports Saloon’ and a 1953 Bentley R Continental in its light version as a Fastback Saloon by H.J. Mulliner. This was the second-lightest Bentley R Continental ever made (only the prototype had been marginally lighter). The car was delivered with neither radio nor heating equipment and the customer had insisted on aluminium bumpers. – Even today the car's performance is so impressive that not for a moment there is any doubt why it was considered an outstanding sports car of its time. And even today it is true that there is a really expensive motor car on the road. The price-level for Bentley R did increase over the recent years – but the value of the extremely rare Bentley R Continental rocketed through the roof.

Bentley Continental R and R-Type



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