Continental Drift: A 'Grand Bentley' coupé 20 years on

The words ‘Bentley’ and ‘Continental’ have come to symbolise a certain way of life. In recent years, they have been applied to the super-successful, four-wheel-drive GT model. But from the early 1950s onwards, buyers ordering a ‘Continental’ knew they were getting the very top model in the range...

In 1992, one year after the model’s introduction at the Geneva show, a new Bentley Continental R cost £168,294. That’s about 10 per cent more than Bentley’s current Continental GT, but a very sizeable investment 21 years ago.

Fewer than 300 per year were built after the new car’s introduction, with production eventually settling down to around six a week until manufacture of the R/S/T/SC model range ceased in 2003.

 

Continental Drift: A 'Grand Bentley' coupé 20 years on
Continental Drift: A 'Grand Bentley' coupé 20 years onContinental Drift: A 'Grand Bentley' coupé 20 years on

The 140mph+ car was built on a version of the Mulsanne/Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit platform and its 360bhp turbocharged V8 was derived from that fitted to the Turbo R. Its elegant styling was by John Heffernan and Ken Greenley, and included a timeless, high-quality cabin swathed in leather and fine woods. The console-mounted gear lever was a first for a Bentley, signifying that this car really was for keen drivers.

 

Nowadays, the looks have dated little, particularly on the regular-wheelbase Continental R and S models (the ‘T’ being a high-performance 2+2, with four inches removed from its wheelbase). As ever, some of the colour combinations specified by Bentley customers can be a little on the ‘extravagant’ side, shall we say, but the Silica with Light Tan interior car you see here certainly errs on the side of caution.

 

Continental Drift: A 'Grand Bentley' coupé 20 years on
Continental Drift: A 'Grand Bentley' coupé 20 years onContinental Drift: A 'Grand Bentley' coupé 20 years on

What’s more, it’s priced at a pint of beer under £40,000. That’s the same sort of figure you might have to pay for an early, new-generation Conti GT, but this one is a genuine, hand-built 'Grand Bentley' with all the emotional history that goes with it – something that’s not always quantifiable in mere financial terms.

 

 

Related Links

You can find out more about this Bentley Continental R available from Cheshire Classic Cars by looking in the Classic Driver Marketplace

 

 

Photos: Cheshire Classic Cars