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Lot 277: Bentley R-Type Coupé by Abbott of Farnham

Cars & Motorcycles, Historics at Brooklands (26 May 2012)

In June 1952 the R-Type was presented to the public; its name owing to the fact that the VI series had by this time reached the chassis letter R. It became one of the most popular Bentleys ever built as noted by Adams & Roberts, 'A Pride of Bentleys'. Rolls-Royce commenced production post-war with the Bentley Mk. VI models followed by the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith. The traditional separate chassis was retained for the two newcomers but for the first time there was standard coachwork. This new 'standard steel' body, produced by the Pressed Steel Company of Oxford, was available at first only on the Bentley; the equivalent Rolls-Royce, the Silver Dawn, not appearing until 1949. The range featured a new design of independent front suspension, hydraulic front brakes and a new 4,257cc, six-cylinder, 'F-head' (inlet-over-exhaust) power unit destined for enlargement to 4,566cc in 1951. A much-needed improvement to the standard bodywork arrived in mid-1952 in the shape of an enlarged boot together with associated changes to the rear wings and suspension, with subsequent models being known as the R-Type Bentley and E-Series Silver Dawn. The two newcomers were the first Rolls-Royce products available with automatic transmission, the company having opted for General Motors' Hydra-Matic, a state-of-the-art four-speed unit permitting manual selection built under licence by Rolls-Royce. The standard R-Type was a lively performer, achieving 106mph in silence and reaching 50mph from standstill in 10 seconds despite a kerb weight approaching two tons. As usual, the R-Type could be ordered in chassis form for bodying by specialist coachbuilders; this manual transmission example offered today being the work of E. D. Abbott of Farnham, Surrey. The stylish, streamlined two-door coupé coachwork, designed by Abbott's stylist Peter Woodgate, had been intended for the superseded Mk. VI chassis and bore more than a passing resemblance to H J Mulliner's contemporary Bentley Continental. Although not designated a Continental, right-hand drive chassis 'B329SP' was supplied with a shallower radiator, lower steering column and higher-than-standard axle ratio that enabled it to make optimum use of the Abbott body's reduced weight and fabulous aerodynamics. With so few made and even fewer remaining, it is a rare event to witness one becoming available. According to accompanying photocopied chassis cards and Works Specification Sheet, the supplying retailer is indicated as P. J. Evans Ltd of Birmingham with the first owner as Neal Carr Esq. of Cano Works, Birmingham. Four further owners are listed, the last of whom, Dr David Stafford-Clarke of Woldingham, Surrey, acquiring the Bentley in May 1961 registered as 'OLF 9'. After a spell in the United States of America, chassis number B329.SP returned to this country in 1999 in a semi-dismantled state and in 2002, was sold to Mr. Robert Dowling who commissioned a full, no-expense-spared restoration at Wilkinson's of Derby over a seven-year period at a cost exceeding £150,000 (bills on file). After being sold again, the new owner, having had the car checked over by marque specialists, Hillier Hill, spent a further £8,000 on bringing the car up to the standard the vendor insists on for all his motorcars. It is now truly exceptional! Finished in metallic grey with contrasting red leather interior, this rare coach built Bentley R-Type presents beautifully with some of the very finest coachwork to be found. It is supplied with a comprehensive history including the aforementioned bills, green logbook, current MoT test certificate valid for 12 months as well as a Swansea V5C registration document. Its streamlined profile is a tribute to the craftsmen that saw beyond just a car and into the future.

Lot Details
Auction Cars & Motorcycles
Historics at Brooklands, Brooklands
TypeCar
Lot Number277
Estimate£95000-£120000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)£112000
Year1954
Condition rating
Registration number764 BBP
Mileage-
Chassis numberB329.SP
Engine numberB414S
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors