1953 Bentley R Type Continental Fastback by H.J.Mulliner For Sale
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 then transported to London by train where they were fitted with coachwork by H.J. Mulliner of Chiswick, with all but fifteen cars fitted with their fastback bodies. The A, B and C series cars were fitted with 4.5 litre engines that displaced 4,566cc and produced 158bhp. Chassis No BC3C which we are currently offering for sale was originally completed in August of 1953, finished in black with a beige leather interior. It was also ordered with six fitted suitcases, a removable centre arm rest in the front of the cabin and a compass on the nearside of the dashboard. It was supplied by H.A.Fox & Co to its first owner, Mr H.C.Coriat of England in September of 1953. Mr Coriat retained the car for a little over a year and sold it in December of 1954 to Mr Guy Moreton. It was then owned by Mr R.H.Baker from 1960 until 1975 when it was purchased by Mr Leon Shapiro of the United States. It was acquired by Mr John Harwood in January of 1976 who kept the car in New York until around 1985 when he relocated to London, bringing BC3C with him. Once back in London, Mr Harwood decided to restore BC3C to its former glory. The body was removed and the works commenced, but for reasons unknown the car was not completed and it subsequently was put into storage where it remained for many years. In around 2010 the car was sold in a partially finished state at auction following Mr Harwoods passing. At this point the restoration recommenced with coachwork, mechanical, trim, chrome and woodwork restoration. In more recent times the engine was overhauled and prior to being offered for sale Frank Dale & Stepsons have prepared the car to showroom condition. It comes mechanically prepared and tested and is complete with copy chassis cards and historical documentation. This handsome R Type Continental is perhaps the most sought after specification in its original colour scheme, with rear wheel spats, air conditioning mounted on the parcel shelf, manual transmission and bucket seats and should be seriously considered by anyone looking to acquire a superb example of this iconic Bentley Continental.