1954 Bentley R-Type Continental Fastback’s record price

1954 Bentley R-Type Continental Fastback’s record price

The Amelia Island sale from Gooding & Co in early March saw a world-record price achieved for a Bentley R-type Continental: $ 2,975,000, or around £2,270,000.

The car’s catalogue entry read like a tick-list of all the most desirable features for any American or European buyer – left-hand drive, manual transmission with a centre floor-change rather than a column shift, an exhaustive restoration by P&A Wood in the history folder and a First in Class at Pebble Beach. Still, the price was something of a shock, rising almost a full million dollars above low estimate. So does this mean every R-type owner should be re-insuring their car for chunky seven-figure sums? Not really, thinks London-based dealer Peter Bradfield.

1954 Bentley R-Type Continental Fastback

‘That result is probably not indicative and should be seen as a bit of a blip,’ he says. ‘Something like that can happen when you have two very wealthy individuals who have always wanted one, in a room together, and when the car checks every box like this one did.’ Of the 208 R-type Continentals, just 23 were built with the combination of LHD and a floor-shift manual. Many would feel that the spats and the colour combination, a very dark blue with wine-red hide to the interior, only made it more desirable still. Is the market for these rare cars splitting in two, between the USA and the rest of the world?

‘There’s always been a premium for left-hand drive examples,’ says Peter, ‘and then other details like spats, lightweight seats, the transmission you prefer, the colour, these have an effect too. The market for right-hand drive cars, which makes up more than three quarters of Continental production, is probably stable between a couple of extremes. The most I’ve seen paid for one, pre-Covid, pre-Brexit and pre-war in Ukraine, was around £1.1m, with the lowest down at £550,000 last year for a car with a non-original engine.’

Peter is handling the sale of 6 BMC, the car that starred in our previous issue. Ian Owen, the car’s owner, has decided to pare down his collection and so the sleek sage-green Conti is on the market. With only six owners in 68 years, it’s more original than most, certainly inside, where the leather has survived with a soft patina that cannot be re-created. It also has lightweight seats and a manual gearbox. Peter reveals the asking price: £725,000, and while such numbers remain eye-watering to many of us, it looks attractive compared with the recent record. Now, where’s that lottery ticket?

1954 Bentley R-Type Continental 6 BMC is now on the market

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