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1954 Bentley H J Mulliner R Type Continental Fastback

Desirable `Blue Chip` Investment Bentley. One of 43!

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Exterior Color Powder Blue
Interior Color Putty Leather
Mileage 72,379 Miles
Engine 4.9L Inline 6 no. BCD1
Transmission Automatic
Status Sold
Stock FJ723


1954 Bentley R-Type Continental 4.9 by H. J. Mulliner
s/n BC1LD
Powder Blue with Putty Leather Interior

Created in Bentley`s greatest tradition of luxury, performance, and engineering, the R-type Continental has always been one of the most desirable Bentleys ever produced. Indeed, they are some of the most desirable cars of any type, and are among a select group of blue-chip collector cars thanks to their rarity, timeless appeal, and stunning aesthetics. In fact, these aesthetics consistently garner much praise, including the classification of the car as one of the twenty-five most beautiful cars ever made, according to Automobile Magazine. Developed as the ultimate variant of the R-type, this, the first Continental, was an exclusive, high-performance, grand tourer that achieved these goals through innovative design and light weight. The aluminum body was refined and optimized in Rolls-Royce`s aircraft wind tunnel, and indeed the stunning fastback styling and small rear fins were functional features to provide high speed and stability. On early cars, aluminum window frames and bumpers were employed and the hood ornament even left off. Nevertheless, the cars are not exactly small or lightweight, and they pushed tire technology to the limit, requiring special tires that could withstand the heat generated by the car`s weight, and more importantly, its speed.

With a top speed just shy of 120mph, it was the fastest 4-seat car of its era, a claim that was further secured by the introduction of the larger bore higher compression 4.9 liter engine in 1954. Handling was also superb, with an uncanny and typically Bentley-like tendency for the car to seem much smaller than it is. The luxurious interior and refined manners of the car were also typically Bentley, as was the build quality, and consequently, the Continental was the most expensive car you could buy when it was new. Its price was and eye-watering £7608, or the equivalent of about $750,000 USD in today`s dollars, and as a result, just 208 examples were built in all.

This particular car is a lovely example, and was the first R-Type Continental delivered with the 4.9 litre engine. It is one of 43 left hand drive examples built and has known history from new, spending all but four years of its life in the United States. It has a number of additional features, including elbow rests, chrome side trim (also known as the long door handles), rear spats, and louvred bonnet. It had a complete engine rebuild few miles ago in 2001 at a cost of $16,370.57. This work included the renewal of all major components and ancillaries, including bearings, valve guides, valves, connecting rods, camshaft, crankshaft, ignition system, and electrical system. A further $3,523.73 was spent in 2003 to rebuild the rear axle, differential, and driveshaft.

The car has never been completely restored but has been cosmetically freshened some years ago. The car was repainted, and remains quite presentable, with a few signs of aging and some surface imperfections. The body is very straight and the gaps very good, while the chrome is nice, but does display some light pitting and a few scratches. The lamps are in excellent order, including the Cibié headlamps and Lucas foglamps. The windscreen has one chip of significance.

The interior is in excellent overall order. The leather has been renewed at some point, as has the carpeting, and both remain very nice, with some light patina. The wood is glossy and attractive, though close inspection reveals some hairline surface cracks in the varnish in selected areas. The wool headliner is excellent, as are the instruments and switches. The steering wheel does have some cracks to it, and the car has been fitted with front safety belts.

The trunk is very nice as well, and all the correct and myriad carpet sections. The tool kit and spare are also present. The tool kit is very complete, and even the grease gun and torch are present in the engine compartment. The car also includes the original manual. The engine compartment is tidy, but does display some soiling. The painted components such as the cylinder head cover and air box are in very fine shape. The overall impression of the engine compartment is one of honesty and correctness. The underside makes a similar impression, with evidence of recent maintenance, and most importantly, extremely solid frame and body panels.

The car runs and drives superbly. The car starts immediately and the the ride is very compliant over road imperfections. The car conveys a sense of solidity and craftsmanship that is unparalleled and there are no rattles. The car corners very capably, defying both its age and its size, while the brakes are servo-assisted and operate effortlessly. Engine is both torquey and smooth, authoritatively accelerating the car. Visibility is superb, and one can only imagine what a tremendous motoring experience the car must have been when new. Even today, it begs to be used, and would be an ideal companion for a long trip. Indeed, thanks to its 1954 build date, it is eligible for a wide variety of events and represents a sophisticated and unusually comfortable alternative to more functionally narrow traditional sports cars.

This is an extremely rare opportunity to acquire an important example of this very significant car, which is widely acknowledged to be one of the most beautiful cars ever made. Arguably Bentley`s greatest car since World War II, the Continental has a unique ability to transcend the conventional postwar Rolls-Royce and Bentley experience, and is thus at home in any collection of significant automobiles. Certainly this is the Bentley to own for the sporting enthusiast, but would of course be at home as the centerpiece of a Bentley collection as well. Indeed, Ian Fleming saw fit to equip James Bond with one in the novel Thunderball, following Flemming`s opportunity to keep one in the UK for a year prior to exporting it (the Continental was initially available for export only).

This particular example is highly significant for its rarity and because it is the first factory 4.9 litre car delivered. Its excellent mechanical health and known history add further appeal, while its cosmetic patina encourages its new owner to actually drive and therefore enjoy the car. The car is, in short, everything that a Bentley should be: sensational-looking, luxurious, beautifully made, and a pleasure to use.


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Fantasy Junction +1 510 653 7555 Emeryville, California 94608 USA

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