Earlier this year we were asked by Sports Car Market Magazine to comment upon the Bentley R Type Continental and its position in the current and recent market over the past two decades. Here are some extracts from the article published in December 2022.
The Bentley R Type Continental by Paul Hardiman
Giles and Emma Crickmay run Frank Dale & Stepsons, a Bentley and Rolls-Royce service and sales specialist established in London in 1946 and have been immersed in these cars all their lives.
They say, “From 2000 onwards, Bentley R Type Continentals enjoyed a steady and sustained upward appreciation in terms of asset value until around 2014. Right-hand-drive manual cars, in good to excellent condition, were selling consistently for around £800,000 to £850,000 at that time. Left-hand-drive cars were fetching more due to their lower production numbers and wider audience.
“Back then there were between one and three cars on the market globally at any one time. However, an auction held in London in late 2014 changed this landscape. Essentially, two buyers bid a specific car up in a seemingly entertaining but very competitive exchange and it sold as a result for just over £1,000,000. It was the first time a right-hand-drive manual car had passed the million-pound mark, a watershed moment.
“One swallow doesn’t make a summer, and as several cars didn’t sell for the same lofty (and inflated) figure, confidence eroded slightly. Couple this with several cars coming to market all at once and the supply-and-demand factor changed too. Inevitably, over the following years the prices, in our opinion, corrected themselves back to the level which they reached around 2014.
“Something similar happened this year with a left hand- drive car. It was purchased at auction for $3m in a very high-profile bidding war at Amelia Island. A further two manual-transmission left-hand-drive cars were then offered at Pebble Beach in August 2022 with optimistic estimates, but neither sold. They were both great cars and both are very valuable, but again, one result doesn’t make them all worth such numbers.”
The Crickmays’ position appears to be that £800k–£850k is again the right sort of price for very good (right hand drive manual) examples. Some would think it’s a great time to buy, while the more pessimistic — or optimistically hopeful — will sit tight to see if Continentals will fall further. It may be that general buyer demographics are against it, a phenomenon that affects a lot of older cars as younger buyers favour the models they dreamed about as kids. Watching “W.O.” Bentleys rebounding in the past two years, I wouldn’t bet on it.
By Giles & Emma Crickmay