Bentley Continental R

FastBack Mulliner 1952

  • Unveiled in 1937 hot on the heels of the Corniche prototype and the Bentley Embiricos, the project for this four seat coupé took form just after the Second World War.
  • Powered by a 4.5 and then 4.9 liter six cylinder engine, it could carry four passengers with their luggage in luxury at a speed of nearly 125 mph.
  • Its elegant and majestic silhouette represents the high point in luxury and grand touring between 1952 and 1955.

Jewel in the British automotive industry crown, the new Bentley Continental R was bound neither by fashion nor by regulatory constraints. This masterpiece from the craftsmen at H.J.Mulliner didn't aim to set any records for its power, but to combine speed, the number of seats, driving comfort and a luxury interior in the most graceful way possible. It was the most expensive car in the world. "The quality will remain when the price is forgotten", as Henry Royce once said...

In 1937, Bentley envisioned a new lightened chassis in the spirit of the Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental, which had appeared in 1931, a year after the company was taken over by Rolls-Royce. The resulting prototype, called the Corniche, was tested on French main roads, the favourite high-speed testing ground for British car manufacturers, giving rise to the name 'Continental' for the most powerful models.

This prototype also owes its existence to Walter Sleator, of Bentley's French importer Franco-Britannic. One of his customers, Mr. Embiricos, purchased a Bentley 4 ¼ Liter chassis from him and had it bodied by designer Georges Paulin. His requirements were precise: it had to be a highly streamlined four-seater coupé and as light in weight as possible. Coachbuilders Pourtout were given the job of building this groundbreaking masterpiece. The so-called 'Embiricos' Bentley was later purchased by Sleator, who was so impressed by the car's performance that he urged the factory to develop a new model along the same lines.

To be continued...