Bentley Continental R 1991–2003 -

Go to content

Main menu

Bentley Continental R 1991–2003

Automobiles from 1990 > Extra about cars in 1990

The Continental R formalized the revival of the Bentley marque, which had degenerated into nothing more than a Rolls-Royce with a different radiator grille, in the years since Rolls-Royce’s 1931 takeover of the company. The first Bentley to carry a distinctive body of its own since the 1950s, the R and its sister models combined the muscular performance of a turbocharged V8 engine with an exquisitely trimmed coupé body. The result was one of the very finest grand tourers money could buy.

A racing pedigree
Walter Owen Bentley made his name as an aircraft-engine designer. His first car was announced in 1919, and the company’s sports models found fame by winning the Le Mans 24-hour race five times. Since 1998 Bentley has been owned by Volkswagen.

At the beginning of the 1980s, Bentley was on the brink of closure. With no models specific to the marque, there was no reason to buy a Bentley other than sentimentalism or a liking for the radiator design. Sales represented about 5 percent of the parent company’s total output of Rolls-Royces and Bentleys. Serious thought was given to discontinuing the marque. Instead, a turbocharged version of the Mulsanne sedan was introduced in 1982, and developed over subsequent years into a magnificent luxury sedan with searing performance. It was then decided to produce a more sporting coupé badged as a Bentley to replace Rolls-Royce’s two-door Camargue.

The Bentley Continental R emerged in 1991, based on the Mulsanne-derived Turbo R sedan-whose running gear could be traced back to that of the 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. A more powerful S model was available in 1994-95, and this led to the high-performance Continental T, which had a 4-in (10-cm) shorter body and uprated brakes and suspension. Other derivatives included a convertible, the Azure.
Back to content | Back to main menu