“The Bentley Continental R. Two cars for the price of four.” Bentley’s original
advertisement for its new four-seater supercar pulled no punches about the
qualities of the Continental R. Or its price…
For a seven-year period from 1996 onwards Bentley Motors – at its
spiritual post-War home – crafted cars for the world’s wealthiest and most
discerning, those who desired effortless power and bespoke hand-finishing only
available from the skilled craftsmen at Crewe.
This late-model Bentley Continental R Mulliner is one.
The Bentley Continental R
Using the latest Mulsanne Turbo R running gear including the company’s
creamy smooth and massively powerful turbocharged V8, the Continental R was a
handsome car, a full four-seater appointed luxuriously enough to justify a 1991
launch price of £168,294. Penned by avant-garde designers John Heffernan and
Ken Greenley, it was a replacement for the two-door Corniche saloon that had
been discontinued in 1980.
The Continental R debuted several features that brought Bentley up to
date with contemporary competition: a four-speed automatic gearbox, heated and
electrically adjustable seats and a centrally-mounted gear-lever. A 400bhp
limited-edition Continental S appeared in 1994, but two years later Crewe
unleashed the short-chassis Continental T onto an unsuspecting world.
Under the bonnet of the £220,313 Continental T sat a tuned V8 (later
upgraded to 420bhp and a colossal 650lb ft of torque). It ran on wide 285/45
tyres mounted on 18in alloy wheels, the body subtly modified with flared
wheelarches. The entire Continental range was upgraded in 1997 with the
adoption of the stylish ‘matrix grille’, a nod to the Cricklewood cars of the
20s and 30s, and these ‘second series’ Continentals were better looking, more
sorted and packed even greater performance: the Continental T could sprint to
60mph in just 5.7 seconds and on to 170mph.
Available from March 1999, the Continental R Mulliner was the final
flourish. It met demand for a car with the practicalities of the
standard-wheelbase version but with the 420bhp turbocharged engine of the 2+2
Continental T. It was the world’s ultimate sporting four-seat coupé.
As the all-new Volkswagen-designed Continental GT was introduced in
2003, Bentley quietly withdrew the old-school turbo-V8-powered Continentals
from its range. It was the end of an era.
This Motor Car
This Bentley Continental R Mulliner, chassis ‘CX01851’, was commissioned
by Bentley Paris (Voitures Paris Monceau SA) in 2002 as a German-market car.
Referring to the Bentley Full Specification Details Report, the luxurious car
was ordered in Silver Tempest with a Nautic Blue leather interior. The
following extras were included:
- Bentley umbrellas
- Wood fascia with chrome bezels
- Voice-activated telephone kit to German
- Audible reversing aid
According to the original service book that accompanies the car, Bentley
Motors completed the pre-delivery inspection at 130km on 5 August 2003. Little
is known about its early ownership, though the next service is dated 6 March
2008, by which time the odometer showed 2,404km. This was completed by official
agent Bentley Belgium.
Incredibly, the distance showing on the odometer in January 2019 was
just over 4,000km. On Kidston SA’s advice, earlier this year our client
instructed Phantom Motor Cars – a leading Bentley and Rolls Royce UK specialist – to
examine its condition and carry out any necessary works.
In a report dated 10 January 2019, the company’s owner Stuart
Worthington stated: “This is an absolutely super condition Bentley Continental
R Mulliner commensurate with its age and extremely low use.” He recommended a
No. 3 hydraulic service, new tyres and further works to “render the headlined
Bentley Continental R Mulliner into serviced and useable condition.” At this
point the car had covered 4,098km.
With authorisation from the owner, the experienced mechanics at Phantom
Motors carried out the necessary works, including:
- Replace all tyres with new Pirelli Asimmetrico
285/45 ZR 18s
- Remove old Nokia phone cradle and support box and
fit new Parrott Bluetooth phone module
- Fit unobtrusive phone charging, MP3-streaming
- Supply correct pair of Bentley umbrellas
- Fit new OEM battery and supply and install wiring
for CTEK battery conditioner
- Attend to various paint and trim faults
- Apply paint protection film to both rear wheel
- Repair driver’s seat mechanism
- Fit new electric aerial
- Re-programme alarm system and cut new keys
- Remove and overhaul steering rack
- Carry out No. 3 (24,000 mile) service replacing
all fluids and filters
- Install Alcon front brake calipers (£9,288.84 +
VAT), discs (£2,917.90 +VAT) and pads (£2,902.76 + VAT), remove and
overhaul rear calipers
- Overhaul coolant system including fitting new expansion
- Fit new bonnet gas struts
- Adjust ride height and suspension including
In total, with VAT, the works came to £45,375.53. Today, the car shows
only 4,733km from new and is surely one of the lowest-mileage examples
available, almost undriven since extensive work by one of the best in the
business. When Aston Martin ceased production of its timeless V8 ‘Saloons’,
Bentley took up the standard of four-seater supercars and improved on it. This
car is truly the Best of British.