The decision was taken in 1950 to develop a Bentley motor car capable of producing high maximum speeds ideal for Continental touring on the long straight roads of Europe. The higher speeds were to be coupled with correspondingly high rates of acceleration and excellent handling. In order to achieve these lofty ambitions a tremendous amount of research and testing were conducted using quarter scale models in the Hucknall wind tunnel. Extensive testing and alterations allowed Ivan Evernden and John Blatchley of the Motor Car Division to design a body not only of exceptional style, but also of an aerodynamic shape that reduced drag and achieved excellent levels of stability even at speeds in excess of 100mph. By late summer of 1951 the drawings and scale models became reality with the creation of the prototype R Type Continental which in time became known as OLGA. Every weight saving opportunity was taken in the production of OLGA, with the majority of the car being crafted from lightweight aluminium. This included the body, window frames, bumpers and even the seat frames. In September of 1951 testing began in France under the supervision of Walter Sleator who was the managing director of Garage Franco-Britannique, the Rolls-Royce agent in Paris. Sleator was well qualified for such a task being an ex-racing driver. Following extensive testing and refinements production began in early 1952. The R Type Continental was at the time the fastest production four seater car in the world, capable of speeds of well in excess of 100mph. The Continental chassis shared many similarities with the Mk VI and R Type chassis, sharing suspension, steering and brake components. However the combination of the fitment of a high ratio back axle, the lightweight construction and the smaller sleeker body style resulted in performance that was far and beyond superior to any car Bentley had previously produced in the post war era. The chassis were assembled in Crewe with the vast majority of the 208 built then transported to London by train where they were fitted with coachwork by H.J. Mulliner of Chiswick, with all but fifteen cars fitted with their fastback bodies. The A, B and C series cars were fitted with 4.5 litre engines that displaced 4,566cc and produced 158bhp.
Chassis No BC11A which we are currently offering for sale is one of the very first R Type Continentals produced. It was originally completed in late 1952 and then delivered in February of 1953 to its first owner Mrs Loel Guinness. It was supplied through Franco Britannic Automobiles, the French Rolls-Royce agent, finished in Tudor grey with a maroon leather interior (VM 3186) Mrs Guinness was the third wife of British MP Thomas Loel Guinness who was a member of the famous brewing dynasty. In January 1955 the car was sold through Franco Britannic once again, to Lemaigre Dubreuil and then again in 1964 when it was sold to Mr M Rambuteau. Chassis No BC11A returned to the UK for the first time in 1967 when supplied by Jack Barclay Ltd to Mr Guy May. The car had three further owners between 1969 and 1977, on each occasion Jack Barclay Ltd were the selling agent. In November 1978 the car was purchased by the present owner who has retained it ever since. In late 2003 the car was improved with a bare metal re-paint, woodwork restoration, chrome re-plating and a sympathetic restoration to the interior with new carpets, headlining and a few improvements to the original leather. The car was recently prepared by ourselves for sale and is in beautiful condition, the coachwork is of a very high standard, mechanically the car is in excellent condition and the interior is charmingly patinated. The specification of manual gears, bucket seats and rear wheel spats is also one of the most attractive and desirable configurations available on the R Type Continental in our opinion. It comes complete with its original handbook, original service manual, copy chassis cards, photographs from the restoration works, tools and history file. Chassis No BC11A is a beautiful early production, lightweight example of this iconic model which comes fully prepared for its next fortunate owners enjoyment.
Good condition throughout, recent coachwork refurbishment, mechanically prepared and original interior.
Four speed manual gearbox, 6 cylinder in line configuration engine, 4.5 litres displacement, 4566cc capacity. Drum brakes servo-assisted.