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1954 Bentley R-Type Fastback Continental Coachwork by H.J. Mulliner

Lot Number: 859

1954 Bentley R-Type Fastback Continental Coachwork by H.J. Mulliner

Few cars are as instantly recognisable as the R-Type Fastback Continental. Viewed by many as a true collectors item, this beautifully presented example was restored by P&A Wood, and is a multiple concours-winner.

  • Sold for an undisclosed sum.

LIVE AUCTION: This lot was auctioned on Saturday 20th May, 2023 at 1.00pm BST at Sywell Aerodrome, Sywell, Northampton, NN6 0BN

  • Body Colour

    BODY COLOUR
    Blue

  • Drive

    DRIVE
    RHD

  • Registration Number

    REG NUMBER
    OYN 3

SUMMARY

Few cars are as instantly recognisable as the R-Type Fastback Continental. Viewed by many as a true collectors item, this beautifully presented example was restored by P&A Wood, and is a multiple concours-winner.

DESCRIPTION

Despite its name, the two-door Continental was produced principally for the UK domestic market and just 208 were built. Like many hand-crafted, coachbuilt cars of the period, the chassis were produced at the Rolls-Royce Crewe factory and shared many components with the standard R-Type. Coachwork for the majority of cars was completed by H. J. Mulliner & Co. of Chiswick, with most orders being for the Fastback Coupé (Design number-7277). A distinctive style of coachwork, the lightweight aluminium, wind-tunnel developed fastback from Mulliner, focussed strongly on keeping weight to a minimum in order to maximise power and performance.

The early cars were powered by, essentially the same engine as the standard R-Type but with modified carburation, induction and exhaust manifolds along with higher gear ratios and consequently the R-Type Continental became the first British four-seat sports coupé capable of speeds of up to 120mph. The A, B and C Series cars were fitted with 4.5-litre engines that displaced 4,566cc and produced 158bhp and, when mated to a manual gearbox, the result was a potent continental cruiser or surprisingly docile and manageable city charger.

On offer here, BC68C is indeed fitted with the desirable manual gearbox and is surely one of the finest R-Type Continentals in existence today. As is often the case with Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars from this era, factory and owner's records are well kept and, in this case, an exceptionally complete set of history files goes right back to the beginning of the car's life and confirms that, for the most part, it was exclusively maintained by Official Rolls-Royce and Bentley Agents including an engine rebuild in 1984 by renowned specialist PJ Fischer. H.P. Arnett & Son, Official Agents (latterly Arnetts of Bournemouth) carried out all maintenance until 1965 and then it was sent to the Central London Factory Service Centre until 1970. Caffyns, again Official Agents, took over maintenance at that point until 1982 followed by PJ Fischer and specialists until P & A Wood, Official Agents again, took over the car’s care in 1993.

By 1999, BC68C was starting to look a little jaded, and the decision was made to commence a cosmetic tidy. The work was entrusted to world-renowned specialists, P&A Wood, and took a couple of years. As is often the case with cars of this nature, a gentle refresh escalated into a complete cosmetic rebuild between 1999 and 2001 when the bodywork was taken back to bare metal, laboriously prepared and fully repainted in numerous coats of a glorious deep blue. All the brightwork was re-chromed, the engine bay painted and detailed and the interior was retrimmed in grey leather with matching carpets, the steering wheel refurbished and the veneers, dashboard, gauges and cabin furniture all returned to a superb standard.

The quality of this work was such that, between 2003 and 2007, the car was entered in a number of Concours d'Elegance events with much success, particularly at the Autoglym Regional Concours Events - when it won on each occasion and was invited to the National Grand Finals held at the NEC. The Bentley was also voted 'Car of the Show' at the Meguiars Classic Car Show at the Alexandra Palace in 2006. Even at the Annual Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts National Rally at Kellmarsh Hall, surrounded by other splendidly restored Rolls-Royce and Bentleys, the R-Type finished either first or second in Class in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and was 'Elegance' Winner in 2008 and second in Class overall in 2007 and 2009.

Since 2011, this important Bentley has been part of two major collections and has covered very few miles in that time, however it has recently enjoyed a few outings with one of our directors, appears in our website opening video, and attracted a number of admirers at the very recent Salon Privé in Chelsea.

Here at Silverstone Auctions, we have offered three of these rare Fastback Continentals in the last few years, all guided in excess of £900,000 so this fabulous example seems very sensibly positioned at £600,000 to £700,000. Naturally, we welcome and encourage your close inspection of this venerable Continental.

We leave the last word to Autosport’s inimitable John Bolster. Writing in 1958, Bolster noted that the Continental was a classical design that achieved a high degree of excellence by sheer quality of construction: "In doing so, it develops an individuality, a character, call it what you will, that makes it entirely different from any other marque. The man who drives a Continental lives in an enchanted world, for everybody calls him ‘sir’ and he may park where other lesser cars may never tread." Despite the passage of more than 60 years, Bolster’s words ring every bit as true today as they did then.

SPECIFICATION

Lot Number
859
Make
BENTLEY
Model
R-TYPE CONTINENTAL
Variant
Fastback
Registration Number
OYN 3
MOT Expiry
Exempt
Chassis Number
BC68C
Engine Number
BCC67
Transmission
Manual
Body Colour
Blue

CONSIGNOR

Consignor

For further information regarding this lot please contact Rob.

CONTACT

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All cars must be removed from the venue between 9am – 2pm on Monday 22nd May. Full payment must be received before any items are available to be released.

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