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Lot 234: Bentley Continental R Coup�

Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Pre-war Motor Cars, Bonhams (13 June 2009)

By the end of the 1970s, Bentleys accounted for a mere 3% of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars' production, clearly a situation that could not be tolerated if the once-famous marque was to avoid extinction. The solution was to seek to re-establish Bentley's credentials as the purveyor of high-performance luxury cars, and in a move calculated to evoke memories of the company's glorious past achievements at Le Mans, the name 'Mulsanne' was chosen for the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit's counterpart. This strategy would succeed brilliantly. Launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1982, the Mulsanne Turbo provoked a rash of headlines in the motoring press hailing the return of the 'Blower Bentley' - the 'Silent Sportscar' was back. Bentley's 1980s resurgence had hitherto relied exclusively on models whose basic architecture was shared with other Rolls-Royce products; but on display at Geneva in '85 was 'Project 90', a mocked-up coup� intended to gauge public response to the idea of a high-performance car unique to Bentley. When the real thing - the Bentley Continental R - was unveiled six years later, the waiting crowd burst into spontaneous applause. Styled with the assistance of consultants International Automotive Design, the Continental R benefited from computer-aided design and wind tunnel testing in the devising of its sleekly streamlined shape. Despite the need to incorporate non-traditional features such as doors recessed into the roof, the result looked every bit a Bentley, albeit one restated for the 1990s. Also new was the gearbox, a four-speed automatic with an 'overdrive' top ratio, but the main focus of interest was the newcomer's performance. Needless to say, this was outstanding, the combination of the Turbo R engine in the new wind-cheating shape cutting the 0-60mph time to under 6 seconds and boosting top speed to in excess of 150mph. A pre-production example (no. 5), this left-hand drive Continental R was built to US specification and featured in the Geneva Motor Show brochures for the model at its launch in 1992 (brochure copies available). Circa 2000, the car was exported to Australia where it was purchased by the current owner approximately five years ago. Since acquisition, the Bentley has been used for various rallies, touring Europe extensively last year and visiting motoring events including the St Moritz British Classic Car Meet in July when it won a concours trophy. The car has covered around 130,000 miles from new. A new front bumper has just been fitted (following a collision with a hare in Ireland), while other work carried out during the vendor's ownership has included overhauling the steering and air conditioning (with a new compressor), fitting new brake pads and re-coring the radiator. We are advised by the vendor that the car drives very well, unlike so many lower mileage examples that rarely leave the garage. Landing fees of 15% are payable on this Lot.

Lot Details
Auction Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Pre-war Motor Cars
Bonhams, Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire
TypeCar
Lot Number234
Estimate£18000-£22000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£20000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£23000
Year1991
Condition rating0
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis numberNCX42009
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors