The 1952 Bentley Continental was destined to be a classic from the beginning. A bold statement for sure, but anyone with a passing interest in classic cars will recognize this truth. On first look, one notices that the Bentley R Continental exudes elegance and sophistication. Upon closer inspection, the sleek streamlined shape is observed. You get the impression that this stately car will cruise down the highway in a leisurely manner but you are in for a surprise. This car is fast. In fact, in 1952, the Bentley R Continental was the fastest production car in existence. Outpacing any Porsche and wrapped up in a 4 seater package to boot! Of course, this luxury and performance come at a price.
To give a sense of perspective, in 1952, your typical English house costs under 2000 pounds. The Continental R however, costs a whopping 6000 plus pounds- three times the price of a home. At such a price, only 208 models are built. Customers purchasing the car had the option of sticking with the standard body car available from Rolls Royce or the coach-built versions from Rolls Royce’s partners.108 Bentley R Continentals were sold in the UK with the remaining 100 cars sold abroad.
A Short History Of The Bentley R Continental
John Blatchley, head designer of the Continental R, enlists a team of engineers and designers from Rolls Royce and its partner H.J Mulliner, to bring his vision to life. The idea behind the car is a simple one-to build a luxurious four-seater capable of high speeds for prolonged distances. Executing this ‘simple’ idea, however, is very difficult. The laws of physics dictate that any car built for speed needs to be light and aerodynamic. A car built for such speeds also needs to have stability.Two-seater sports cars were nothing new but a 4 seater car with a race car engine was unheard of.
To solve this vexing problem, the team decides to construct the car from aluminum and steel. The side windows, seat frames, bumpers and window frames are made of aluminum while the chassis is made from steel. This ratio of steel to aluminium is so precise that the team opts not to install a radio. After numerous tweaks and extensive testing, the Continental R is ready for its debut. It becomes an instant success for those able to afford it. It is unlikely that you will see one of these rare and expensive cars on the street but you may be lucky enough to see one up close at an auction.
1952 Bentley Continental R Accessories and Specifications
Production numbers: 208
Body Style: 4 Seater Touring Sedan
Construction; Steel Chassis, Aluminum Body, Front Disc Brakes, Rear Drum Brakes
Engine: 6 Cylinder, 4,566cc
Transmission: Four-speed synchromesh manual or automatic is also available
Manual gearbox, right hand-mounted lever
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