The Bentley R-Type Continental was a high-performance version of the R-Type. It was the fastest four-seat car in production at the time. The prototype was developed by a team of designers and engineers from Rolls-Royce Ltd. and coachbuilder H. J. Mulliner & Co. led by Rolls-Royce’s Chief Project Engineer, Ivan Evernden. Rolls-Royce worked with H. J. Mulliner instead of their own coachbuilding subsidiary Park Ward because the former had developed a lightweight body construction system using metal throughout instead of the traditional ash-framed bodies. The styling, finalized by Stanley Watts of H. J. Mulliner, was influenced by aerodynamic testing conducted at Rolls-Royce’s wind tunnel by Evernden’s assistant, Milford Read. The rear fins stabilized the car at speed and made it resistant to changes in direction due to crosswinds.
Historical Notes on the R-Type
The Continental model was born to create a fervor in the motor industry when it was announced in 1953. Once again, a model with performance in line with the name had been created. Here was a 120MPH motor, that would return better than 20 MPG with four passengers.
H.J. Mulliner was responsible for the fast-back streamlined saloons; the Bentley radiator was retained in order to cater to the conservatism expected by its clientele.
History of BC 31 C
1954: First private owner, H.H. The Princess of Berar.
1956: (12-21): H.H. Prince Mukarram Jah, Hyderabad House, South Kensington Palace Green, London, W8
1965: (11-65) R. Melville Smith
1965: (12-65): R.G. Pulvertaft
Subsequent to 1965, the vehicle was purchased by the managing director of Heron Motor Group, P.S. Reynolds. Using various Heron subsidiaries, (Saville Motors, Newbury Motors (Peter Reynolds, Esq., 31 Hyde Park St., London, S2), and H.R. Owen, of 33 Sloan St., London, the car was carefully kept and driven.
A road test and report by H.R. Owen dated June 21 1973, verified the mileage of 58,140.
The car was imported to the U.S. in November, 1974, ending up in the ownership of Mr. Noel Rothman, Esq. of 24 Lowndes Square, London, SW1 and of Evanston and Chicago, Illinois for a period of years before being sold to a gentleman in Albuquerque, NM, where it resided until being recently discovered and purchased. It has since been fully recommissioned with all of its original features in working order and driving nearly as new, with only 77,000 original miles on the odometer.
Two interesting features of this car are the fitting of electric windows and the position of the gear shift lever on the floor. Very few cars were built with these features.