1955 Bentley R-Type

The Bentley R-Type replaced the Mark VI in 1952 and remained in production until 1955 with 2,323 examples built. They were similar to the sister car, the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn, differentiated by the radiator grille and carburetion. Sales of the Bentley were much strong compared to the Silver Dawn's 760 sales.

During development they were referred to as the Bentley Mark VII and re-designated R-Type in 1952. They used the Mark VI chassis and exterior designs, with the front of the saloon models identical to the Mark VI. The trunk, however, was nearly doubled in size. Both standard and coachbuilt bodies were available. Powered was from a 4.5-liter inline six-cylinder engine mated to a four-speed manual gearbox with overdrive. The suspension was independent at the front with semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. The drum brakes were hydraulically operated at the front and mechanically at the rear via a gearbox driven servo.

The Continental versions evolved from the standard R-Type and were given modified carburetion and manifolding for more power, tall gearing and close gearbox ratios, and lightened bodywork, removing more than 225 kilograms from a standard Bentley. The window, body, and seat frames were built of light alloy. The Continental models had a numerically low 3.077:1 final-drive ratio selected for high-speed cruising at low engine revolutions.

The R-Type Continental underwent testing at the Montlhéry circuit in Paris during September 1951, where the prototype example with coachwork by H.J. Mulliner achieved a five-lap average speed of 118.75 mph. During testing in France, the prototype's overdriven top-gear was found to be unsuitable for the engine's RPMs, so it was replaced by a direct-ratio top gear and lower axle ratio, a setup that proved best for both high-speed touring and well-spaced gear changes for the city driving.

Keeping true to its 'Continental' name, they were capable of cruising at 90 mph for extended periods in comfort and silence. The R-Type Continental would be continually developed during its lifespan, which lasted from 1952 to 1955. Among the updates, the later 'D' and 'E' series cars received a larger 4.9 liters engine with additional horsepower, and the General Motors Hydra-Matic automatic gearbox was made available. Other modifications included a lowered roofline, one-piece windscreen, and revised fender lines.

A total of 208 R-Type Continentals were built, including the prototype. All but 15 received alloy fastback coachwork of H.J. Mulliner. These built-to-order vehicles were exclusive, as dictated by the $18,000 price tag.


by Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2019

Related Reading : Bentley R Type and Continental History

In 1931 Rolls-Royce acquired Bentley. From that point, the two marques began to show similarities, such as design and mechanics. By the mid 1950s, the marques were mostly the same except for badging and engine. The R-Types are memorable because they were still their own distinct model. In 1952 at the Earls Court Motor Show, Bentley displayed their R-Type model. Bodywork was mostly handled by H.J.....
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Related Reading : Bentley R Type and Continental History

Following WWII, the British faced a sobering time during the early 1950s. Commodities and luxuries that were once commonplace, were still subject to rationing. Taxes continued to be piled on the British people, and frozen wages kept inflation in a constant battle. Following a decade of prolonged asceticism, the petrol rationing was finally lifted on May 26th 1950. The British motorist was once....
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1955 Vehicle Profiles

1955 Bentley R-Type vehicle information

Sports Coupe
Coachwork: Mulliner

The R-Type was an improvement on Bentley's popular MK VI standard saloon, and was produced from 1952 until 1955. It has an elongated trunk which allowed for more sweeping lines. This car was originally supplied to the 14th Duke of Hamilton, and rem....[continue reading]

1955 Bentley R-Type vehicle information

This vehicle is 1 of 73 'D' Series R-Type Continentals built. It was delivered new in May 1955 to T.W. Dupree of Cypress via Franco Brittanic Automobiles.....[continue reading]

1955 Bentley R-Type vehicle information

Continental Fastback
Coachwork: Mulliner

1955 was the last year of the R-Type Continental Fastback, arguably Bentley's most exciting car of the immediate post World War II period in spite of its overall size and weight. The teardrop styling of this aluminum-bodied 2-door, 4-seat coupe is ma....[continue reading]

1955 Bentley R-Type vehicle information

Continental Fastback
Coachwork: Mulliner

Chassis Num: BC16LD

The Bentley R-Type Continental is the epitome of 1950s luxury grand touring cars. When introduced the Continental was the world's fastest four-seater as well as the world's most expensive production car. With silent, swift acceleration and with a top....[continue reading]

1955 Bentley R-Type vehicle information

Continental Fastback
Coachwork: Mulliner

The R-Type Continental was the fastest production four-passenger car in the world, capable of approaching 115 mph in total comfort. Its wonderfully streamlined coachwork was the result of collaboration between H.J. Mulliner and Bentley's own staff at....[continue reading]

Sports Coupe by Mulliner
 
 
Continental Fastback by Mulliner
 
Continental Fastback by Mulliner
Chassis #: BC16LD 
Continental Fastback by Mulliner
 

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

$1,070-$10,740
1955 R-Type
$10,740-$22,520
1955 Bentley R-Type Base Price : $10,740

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Bentley
1960Chevrolet (1,653,168)Ford (1,439,370)Toyota (1,068,321)
1959Chevrolet (1,462,140)Ford (1,450,953)Volkswagen (575,407)
1958Chevrolet (1,142,460)Ford (987,945)Volkswagen (451,526)
1957Ford (1,676,449)Chevrolet (1,505,910)Plymouth (726,009)
1956Chevrolet (1,567,117)Ford (1,408,478)Meteor (1,408,478)
1955Chevrolet (1,704,667)Ford (1,451,157)Buick (738,814)
1954Ford (1,165,942)Chevrolet (1,143,561)Plymouth (463,148)
1953Chevrolet (1,346,475)Ford (1,247,542)Plymouth (650,451)
1952Chevrolet (818,142)Ford (671,733)Plymouth (396,000)
1951Chevrolet (1,229,986)Ford (1,013,381)Plymouth (611,000)
1950Chevrolet (1,498,590)Ford (1,208,912)Plymouth (610,954)

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