1952 Bentley Continental R-Type

Bentley started off as one of the most successful racing marques of the 1920s, then was acquired by Rolls-Royce in 1931. Thereafter, Bentley became the sportier sister marque of Rolls, but with their cars still quite sedate compared to other performance cars of the day.

In the post-war period, Bentley was in need of a new identity with more separation from Rolls-Royce. While their cars were beautiful and luxurious, they had little in common with the original Bentley marque, a company which managed to win Le Mans 5 times from 1924 through 1930.

The goal of the majestic Continental R Type was to create a luxurious Grand Tourer that could cruise reliably at 100 mph, with a top speed of about 115 mph. Just like today, high speed operation presented its own unique challenges. The limitations of the tires of 1950 meant that a car intended to cruise at 100 mph had to stay close to 3800 lbs. The focus of the Continental R Type was on weight reduction and improved aerodynamics, with increased power a distant second. The bodywork, window frames, seat frames, and bumpers were all made of aluminum to cut down on mass. Even the radio was eliminated to keep weight down.

The body itself was a wind-tunnel tested, beautifully tapered fastback with what was at the time a steeply raked windshield.

Power came from a 4.6 liter inline-6 that had been tuned from its normal output of 140 hp to 153 horses. While this was a high output for the day, it was not remarkable. Chrysler was already making their earliest version of the Hemi V8 by 1951 producing 180 hp. The Bentley engine was later enlarged to 4.9 liters, but overall the car's success in reaching its goals was due to an aerodynamic body and a relatively low weight of 3858 lbs for what was still a big Bentley.

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Specifications

Price Production Weight
£6,928 208 3,858 lbs
Engine Aspiration Torque
4.6 liter natural --
Power Power/Volume Power/Weight
153 HP 33.5 HP/Liter 25.2 lbs/HP
Top Speed 0-62 mph Range
-- -- --
Price Production Weight Engine Aspiration Torque
£6,928 208 3,858 lbs 4.6 liter natural --
Power Power/Volume Power/Weight Range 0-62 mph Top Speed
153 HP 33.5 HP/Liter 25.2 lbs/HP -- -- --
Imperial Metric