Platinum Jubilee for the Bentley Continental – Automotive Blog

Bentley R-Type Continental and Bentley Continental GT

Bentley is celebrating 70 years since the start of production of the R-Type Continental – one of the most celebrated cars in the company’s 103-year history, and the first Bentley to wear the iconic Continental name.

With only 208 examples produced, the R-Type Continental was as rare a sight in the 1950s as it is today – but it went down in history as a benchmark Bentley, and the embodiment of the brand’s grand touring DNA.

Its ethos and its exterior design were the inspiration for the first Continental GT in 2003, and it has inspired Bentley Design teams ever since.

Bentley R-Type Continental

While the first prototype R-Type Continental (known as ‘Olga’ thanks to its OLG490 registration) was on the road in August 1951, it wasn’t until May 1952 that the car went into production, with customer deliveries starting in June.

At the time, it was the fastest four-seat car in the world – a mantle that was picked-up by the modern-day Continental GT in 2003. It was also the most expensive, at £6,928 – nearly four times the 1952 average UK house price.

The brainchild of Chief Projects Engineer, Ivan Evernden and Chief Stylist, John Blatchley, the R-Type Continental was described in period by Autocar magazine as “a modern magic carpet which annihilates great distances”.

Bentley R-Type Continental

A sleek coupé based on the R-Type Bentley saloon, it was powered by a 4,566cc, six-cylinder in-line engine producing 153bhp. The prototype averaged 118.75 mph over five laps (with a best lap of just under 120mph) at the banked Montlhèry track near Paris.

To keep down to the target weight, coachbuilders HJ Mulliner crafted the bodywork, window frames, windscreen surround, backlight, seat frames and bumpers in aluminium. Even at a pared-down weight, tyre choice was critical; no standard road tyre existed which could carry a two-ton car at speeds in excess of 115 mph, and Dunlop Medium Distance Track tyres were specified.

The first production model was delivered to its owner in June 1952 and by the time production ended in 1955, 208 R-Type Continentals had been made. Of these, 193 were bodied by HJ Mulliner. Others included Park Ward (four dropheads and two coupés), Franay (five), Graber (three) and Farina (one).

Bentley R-Type Continental

Source: automotiveblog.co.uk

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