1954 Bentley R-Type Continental £975,000 from Graeme Hunt, London, UK

1954 Bentley R-Type Continental £975,000 from Graeme Hunt, London, UK

Just over 70 years ago, Bentley Motors pulled the covers off something very special at the Paris motor show: the R-Type Continental.

THE MARKET / Showroom Stars

This swooping fastback represented a new breed of post-war coachbuilt Bentley, which moved the company further away from Rolls-Royce by offering more performance and sporting ability than its cousins. This was a car that had been developed with an eye on the ability to cross continents at great speed and in great style. During development, it was decided that the Continental needed to cruise comfortably at 100mph, which would mean a top speed of around 120mph. To make this possible, it needed to be lighter and more powerful. The body was to be clothed in aluminium, while the standard R-Type’s 4.6-litre straight-six was tweaked, with new exhaust, intake and carburation giving increased power of 153bhp compared to the standard car’s 140bhp.

Almost all were bodied by HJ Mulliner and based on a fastback design from Ivan Evernden and John Blatchley. ‘Honed in a wind tunnel’ might be overstating it, but it underwent testing and was shaped with high-speed stability as a priority. Built in 1954, this delightful example is the final, best-developed D-series model. Due to the extra weight of the earlier fully specified Continentals, these came from the factory with a larger 4.9-litre engine to improve cruising speed. The car was restored in the early 2000s by PJ Fischer, a known marque expert. As well as completing the restoration to a very high standard, Fischer also fitted a number of very discreet upgrades at the same time. Although hidden away, there’s a modern radio set-up, as well as a retractable sunroof. Perhaps neatest of all is the row of small bonnet vents to aid cooling.

After restoration it was sold to the current owner, who’s letting it go after 14 years. Used extensively in that time, driven in tours and rallies all over Europe, it has been looked after by specialist P&A Wood. If you’re heading to Salon Privé, you will be able to view this magnificent machine, offered at £975,000, on Graeme Hunt’s stand.

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