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Lot 208: Bentley R-Type Continental 'Fastback'

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Bonhams (29 June 2012)

In describing this magnificent Bentley R-Type Continental it is difficult to improve upon the typically perceptive and balanced analysis that George Daniels himself wrote of the car for his autobiography, 'All in Good Time Reflections of a Watchmaker', published in 2000. In those pages he wrote as follows: "A great favourite is the 1953 R Continental. I bought this in 1975 as a therapeutic exercise in rebuilding after several weeks treatment for cancer. Each morning I attended Middlesex Hospital at 7am arriving by motor cycle...(and) during the weeks of the treatment I dismantled and rebuilt the Continental so that it, and the treatment, were finished at the same time. The results, successful in both cases, were celebrated by a tour of France and Switzerland in the car which behaved impeccably. "The ease with which the Continental will cover vast distances without discomfort to its occupants is now legendary. It is silent, smooth and spaciously comfortable. At the cool, thin rimmed steering wheel one looks along a long, slender bonnet reaching proudly into the distance. The controls are beautifully weighted so that one can sense the road and the car's response to changes in surface and conditions. And, of course, it is very beautiful to behold." He continued: "I remember an occasion in Yorkshire when heading for Heysham and the ferry boat to the Isle of Man. I had driven from Cornwall by a long circuitous route to take in several appointments on the way. My left leg and shoulder were tired from gear changing in heavy stop and start traffic. In Leeds I was stuck in a traffic jam and as I sat there, longing for arrival in Heysham, the words of Laurence Pomeroy, motor correspondent and bon viveur, when testing the Continental in 1953, came back to me. 'This car', he wrote: ' a magic carpet which will carry its occupants to the ends of the earth and when they alight, they will be as fresh as when they set out...". Although Mr Daniels admitted that at that particular moment he longed, in fact, for such modern luxuries as power-assisted steering and an automatic gearbox, he also insisted that 'Pom's' enthusiastic assessment had been absolutely right by the standards of era in which he made it. This 'R-Type Conti' hails from an era in which traffic was light, roads were open and restrictions minimal. Yet despite the ravages of time and advances in such cutting-edge technology, George went on to declare: "But I cannot bear to think of disposing of the car which still has many uses and of course remains the most beautiful of all Bentley saloon cars." Bentley R-Type Continental 'OLX 36' offered here is a very well known individual amongst this exclusive, rarefied and much-coveted family of high-performance, luxurious true Grand Touring cars. It was ordered originally by the Taylor Woodrow construction company for founder Frank Taylor, finished in Blue/Grey (today, the car's colour looks very much like a Royal Air Force blue) with matching pale-blue interior with the desirable option of lightweight seats. The brand-new car was first registered to Taylor Woodrow on March 12, 1954, with 5 per cent discount on the price for being "frequent clients" of Rolls-Royce Ltd. Frank Taylor, from Blackpool had been working in the family fruit wholesaling business when, age only 16, he persuaded his father that he could build the family a new house. Using some capital from his father plus a bank loan he actually built a pair of semi-detached houses, selling 'the extra one' most profitably. Frank Taylor never looked back, and two busy years of further building passed before the bank manager realised his client was under the legal age for conveying land. It was at that point that Taylor's uncle Jack Woodrow became a partner in the business, creating 'Taylor Woodrow'. Frank Taylor moved operations to London in 1930, Taylor Woodrow becoming based in Southall, Middlesex, and building some 1,200-1,500 houses each year by the mid-1930s. The company, much enlarged, was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1935. Taylor Woodrow Construction became engaged in defence work and for six years through World War II built military camps, airfields, factories and many components of the Normandy Landings' Mulberry Harbour. Immediately postwar Taylor Woodrow began building internationally, and by the time the R-Type Continental was purchased the company's projects involved sites in Africa, Australia, Canada and the Middle East. Once domestic building controls were abolished, Taylor Woodrow's private house building in the UK bounced back to pre-war levels. It was against this dynamic, profit-based background that this Continental was kept by Taylor Woodrow for less than a year before the company probably realized a useful profit by selling it on, the car's second owner being a Mr J.B. Ashbrook, who took title to it on February 1, 1955. We understand that 'OLX 36' then remained within Mr Ashbrook's ownership for the following 23 years, until July 25, 1978, when it was acquired via Stanley Sedgwick of Bentley Drivers' Club fame by Mr George Daniels, horologist and watchmaker extraordinary. The car famously retained its original documents, handbook, tool kit etc and was quickly prepared to perfect condition for its age by Mr Daniels himself, as recounted above. Today, at last reading, this mouth-watering R-Type Continental's recorded mileage is still barely 34,700. We recommend the closest inspection as the Mulliner coachwork remains as impeccably tailored as the finest Savile Row suit. The panel fits are excellent and the paint application shows hardly any significant ageing. Interior furnishing, seats, door trim and headlining could well be original while the wood trim is simply fantastic and it is believed that some restoration has been undertaken there. The car's brightwork is also in admirable condition. The car comes with a comprehensive file including V5C registration document, current MoT, road fund license, handbook, and much correspondence. This is, in short, a three-owner only, low-mileage Bentley R-Type Continental with the highly desirable specification of manual transmission and lightweight seats that, in its 58th year, is surely one of the finest examples of its illustrious and thoroughbred breed.

Lot Details
Auction Goodwood Festival of Speed
Bonhams, Chichester, Goodwood,UK
Lot Number208
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£560000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£628700
Condition rating
Registration numberOLX 36
Chassis numberBC 28C
Engine numberBCC 27
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors