1954 Bentley R Type Continental

Year : 1954
Make : Bentley
Model : R Type Continental
Coachbuilder : H.J.Mulliner (Left Hand Drive)
Body Type : Fastback
Colour : Smoke Green
Trim : Cream and Faux Crocodile
Technical Data : Four speed manual gearbox, 6 cylinder in-line configuration engine, 4.5 litres displacement, 4566cc capacity. Drum brakes servo-assisted.


The decision was taken in 1950 to develop a Bentley motor car capable of producing high maximum speeds ideal for Continental touring on the long straight roads of Europe. The higher speeds were to be coupled with correspondingly high rates of acceleration and excellent handling. In order to achieve these lofty ambitions a tremendous amount of research and testing were conducted using quarter scale models in the Hucknall wind tunnel. Extensive testing and alterations allowed Ivan Evernden and John Blatchley of the Motor Car Division to design a body not only of exceptional style, but also of an aerodynamic shape that reduced drag and achieved excellent levels of stability even at speeds in excess of 100mph. By late summer of 1951 the drawings and scale models became reality with the creation of the prototype R Type Continental which in time became known as OLGA. Every weight saving opportunity was taken in the production of OLGA, with the majority of the car being crafted from lightweight aluminium. This included the body, window frames, bumpers and even the seat frames. In September of 1951 testing began in France under the supervision of Walter Sleator who was the managing director of Garage Franco-Britannique, the Rolls-Royce agent in Paris. Sleator was well qualified for such a task being an ex-racing driver. Following extensive testing and refinements production began in early 1952. The R Type Continental was at the time the fastest production four seater car in the world, capable of speeds of well in excess of 100mph. The Continental chassis shared many similarities with the Mk VI and R Type chassis, sharing suspension, steering and brake components. However the combination of the fitment of a high ratio back axle, the lightweight construction and the smaller sleeker body style resulted in performance that was far and beyond superior to any car Bentley had previously produced in the post war era. The chassis were assembled in Crewe with the vast majority of the 208 built were then transported to London by train where they were fitted with coachwork by H.J. Mulliner of Chiswick. Chassis No BC42LC was completed in March of 1954, finished originally in cream with an outlandish crocodile and cream interior. The car was ordered by Mr A Shuman of San Francisco when new, supplied by British Motorcar Distributors and shipped to San Francisco on the SS Dalerdyk. He specified the car to be fitted with left hand steering, lightweight seats and an automatic gearbox, the first R Type Continental to have such a configuration. Records indicate that Chassis No BC42LC was retained by Mr Shuman until 1960 when he sold it to a Mr G Baxter. The third change of ownership took place in 1976 when the car became the property of Gary Moore, with the total mileage at the time noted at 76,000 from new. It is understood that Chassis No BC42LC lived in the state of California from 1954 until 2010 continuously, and has clearly benefited from the warm and dry climate when looking at the condition of the coachwork and chassis. The car changed hands in recent years, returning to Europe for the first time since 1954. Records show that the car was cosmetically restored in 1976, the work included a re-paint in its present colour of smoke green to complement the restoration of the chrome at the same time. The car was subsequently shown at Pebble Beach in 1978 and it won the Brace Award at the 1987 RROC National Meeting. Since then it has been correctly maintained mechanically and improved further cosmetically, with a new interior trimmed in 1995 and re-finished woodwork. It is worth noting that the original crocodile skin was removed and replaced with embossed leather at this time, to create the same appearance but using a different material. Service records show correct and regular maintenance dating back to when the receipts began being filed and retained in the mid-1970s. Works in recent years carried out by specialists in the US include a complete brake overhaul, transmission overhaul and radiator restoration. Since returning to Europe, the car was sent to P&A Wood where the automatic transmission was replaced with a centre shift manually operated gearbox, with the work completed to the highest standards. The odometer currently reads just over 100,000 miles, which is believed to be the total mileage BC42LC has covered from new. The car is now perhaps the ultimate configuration in terms of an R Type Continental, being one of only forty three original left hand drive cars, fitted with a sunroof, rear wheel spats and lightweight seats to compliment the new manual gear shift. It is complete with extensive records dating back to the mid 1970s, its original crocodile covered handbook and un-plundered small and large tools stored in the boot well. The car comes mechanically prepared and thoroughly tested as per our normal policy and still presents very well following restoration works in the 1970s and 1990s. This beautiful piece of rolling art should be strongly considered as one of the most collectible and important post war Bentley motor cars and is one we are delighted to be offering for sale at this time.

If you would like to make an enquiry about this vehicle, please contact us by phone on (00 852) 2285 1888 or by email at enquiry@frankdale.com.hk