30 Years of Bentley Continental R

In order to refresh the Bentley brand, Rolls-Royce decided to introduce a standalone model series 30 years ago. The general process started in 1982 with the Mulsanne Turbo. For the first time in decades, this meant that there was a car with another powertrain than in the visually identical Rolls-Royce. Three years later the development of a new coupé started. Ideas were first presented at the 1985 Geneva Motor Show in the form of the Project 90, designed by John Heffernan and Ken Greenley. While many details of the concept study were still reminiscent of Rolls-Royce, in the following years the two created an independent design language.

Continental R

It took until 1991 before the production-ready Continental R made its debut again in Geneva. The 6.75-liter V8 turbo engine was taken over from the Mulsanne Turbo R sedan. In contrast to other manufacturers, Bentley initially didn’t specify engine output, which is why only estimates are available. It was probably around 325 hp. Only in the course of the production more and more data became known, since these were needed on different markets for certifications. Engine output rose to 360 hp. At the same time, the base price rose continuously from 505,885 DM to 569,000 DM, making the Continental R one of the most expensive cars in the world.

Continental S and Continental T

In 1994 a limited edition of the Continental S was released. This one got 385 hp out of the V8 turbo engine thanks to an additional intercooler. In total, Bentley produced only around 30 examples. Subsequently, the intercooler was added to the options program for the normal Continental R. Finally, the Continental T with 426 hp and initially 800 newtonmeters of torque appeared as the new top model. This figure climbed to 875 newtonmeters in 1997. In order to be able to convert the higher engine power in even better driving dynamics Bentley shortened the wheelbase by 10 centimeters and installed a sports suspension. This also shrank the space in the rear, making the Continental T officially a 2+2-seater. Instead of wood, polished aluminium provided a link to the legendary Bentley Boys. The base price in 2000 was 641,900 DM.

Continental R and Continental T Mulliner

Through its Mulliner customization division, Bentley soon offered the more powerful engine to customers who didn’t want to do without a full four-seater. Parallel to the Continental R Mulliner there was however also the Continental T Mulliner with even richer equipment level. In addition, it was possible to make so-called Personal Commissions, i.e. to have the vehicles fitted with individual details. For this Bentley called in the model year 2000 at least 672,330 DM. In addition there were various special edition models based on the long and short wheelbase Continentals, such as the Le Mans, the R420 or the Millennium.

Continental SC

In 1998, the Volkswagen Group took over the traditional British brand Bentley. Before the completely newly developed Continental GT with technology components from the Group’s modular system became available in 2003, the existing models were given a facelift. The newly developed Continental SC (Sedanca Coupé) was added to the range in parallel to the Coupé and the convertible Azure, which had been on sale since 1996. Based on the short bodyshell of the Continental T, the roof strip between the doors was removed and replaced by a removable glass roof. From the outset, only 80 examples were planned at a price of 690,000 DM. In the end, there were 73 Continental SCs with the Continental R engine and six Continental SC Mulliners with the Continental T engine. The latter cost at least 724,800 DM.

Images: Bentley