Though launched at the 1991 Geneva motor show, many elements of the John Heffernan/Ken Greenley-penned Continental R had been seen at the same salon back in 1984, when Bentley unveiled their `Project 90' concept car; a suitably enthusiastic reception leading the company to develop the car for production. Clearly the Sultan of Brunei approved of the end result, as he bought the 1991 show car.
The Continental tag was intended to recall memories of the elegant Bentley Continentals of the `50s and `60s, while the `R' was a hark back to R Type Bentleys of the `50s and the Turbo R of the `80s.
The new car was based on the Turbo R floorpan and powered by that model's 6.75-litre turbocharged V8 engine which was believed to produce in the region of 324bhp. Whatever, it was sufficient to give a top speed of 145mph and 0-60mph time of 6.6 seconds - no mean performance for a car weighing 2.5 tons and the best of any Bentley in its day. The engine drove through a 4-speed GM 4L80-E automatic gearbox.
The striking two-door body featured more curvature than the Rolls-Royce and Bentley saloons of the time and, while its drag coefficient of 0.465 was unimpressive in general terms, it was nevertheless a huge improvement over that of previous Bentleys. Unlike all other Bentleys since the S3 of 1965, its body was unique to the marque. It was a big car by any standards, being some 17.5 feet long and over 6.5 feet wide. The 24 gallon fuel tank was a clue to the fuel consumption when the full performance was employed. The Continental R was produced from 1991 to 2003, during which time some 1,290 examples were made. Its successor was the Continental GT that remains in production today.
Manufactured to right-hand drive specification in 1992 and supplied new via Malayan Motors of Singapore the following year, this particular example was repatriated to the UK during 1999. It features Masons Black coachwork and is trimmed in light grey hide piped in scarlet. The steering wheel and dash are also finished in scarlet and complemented by similarly coloured carpet, light grey knee roll and striking walnut veneers. The comprehensive specification includes cruise control, air conditioning and electrically controlled heated seats. The car comes complete with extensive main dealer and specialist service history plus all the original handbooks and tools. The present reading on the odometer is under 68,000kms (42,500 miles), which the vendor believes to be genuine.
This splendid-looking Bentley cost around £200,000 new, so represents incredible value for money in today's market.
Image and description kindly supplied by H&H Classic Auctions
Bentley Continental R 1992
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