Monterey

15 - 16 August 2014

Lot 117

1953 Bentley R-Type Continental Sports Saloon by H.J. Mulliner

To be auctioned on Friday, August 15, 2014

Sold for $1,210,000

  • Chassis no. BC20A
  • Engine no. BCA19
History is important to us, and all lots offered are fully researched. All corresponding information and accessories, from certificates to tool kits, stays with the lots we sell. All of this is held at our library on site, under the Access the Knowledge banner, so please visit us there or contact us before the auction if you require further information.


178 bhp, 4,887 cc overhead inlet and side exhaust valve inline six-cylinder engine with twin SU carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with open helical springs and hydraulic shock dampers, semi-elliptic rear suspension with controllable hydraulic shock dampers, and servo-assisted hydraulic front and mechanical rear brakes. Wheelbase: 120 in.

  • The 1953 Geneva Salon show car
  • Factory “seats and spats,” with manual gearbox
  • Numerous bespoke special-order items
  • Original engine and factory tool set
  • Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club documentation


THE R-TYPE CONTINENTAL: “A MODERN MAGIC CARPET”

In the early 1930s, Rolls-Royce began to experiment with aerodynamic designs, often based on the chassis of the Bentley, “The Silent Sports Car.” After World War II, streamlined prewar prototypes such as the Mk II (“Scalded Cat”) and Corniche were revisited, and H.I.F. Evernden and H.J. Mulliner designer J.P. Blatchley conspired to create a lightweight, aerodynamic Bentley capable of carrying four adults in the highest comfort. They aimed “to produce a car which would not only look beautiful but possess a high maximum speed, coupled with a correspondingly high rate of acceleration, together with excellent handling and roadability.”

Body, window, and seat frames would be built of light alloy, resulting in a four-place body that weighed only 750 pounds, less than 4,000 pounds together with the chassis. Frame, suspension, steering, and brake components were shared with the Mark VI series and the later standard R-Type, with final modifications and tuning at the Rolls-Royce Lille Hall service depot in Earls Court, London. While coachbuilt bodies were being built and fitted, Bentley representatives reportedly visited the panel-beaters, ensuring that all work was being done in a workmanlike manner, and Bentley Motors thoroughly tested and inspected the cars prior to delivery to their original owners.

The resulting R-Type Continental, the first production Bentley to wear that now-famous name, is perhaps the most desirable postwar Bentley, combining superior performance with glorious design and advanced aerodynamics. Memorably described by Autocar as being “a modern magic carpet, annihilating great distances,” it was best remembered with the streamlined H.J. Mulliner bodywork that Blatchley had originally penned for the chassis. This streamlined fastback Sports Saloon became the iconic coachwork for the R-Type Continental, and of the 207 chassis built between May 1952 and April 1955, 193 were bodied by Mulliner.

CHASSIS NUMBER BC20A

The R-Type Continental was produced in five series, A through E, with the A cars representing the earliest and purest version of the design. Chassis number BC20A was the 19th car produced in the A series, and therefore, the 19th R-Type Continental produced. (Superstitious in the charming way that British automakers often are, Bentley skipped chassis number 13.)

Original build information supplied by the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club, copies of which are on file, record this car’s well-equipped custom specification. Like most of the Mulliner fastbacks, it was equipped with full “spats” over the rear wheels; desirably, it was also equipped with the lightweight adjustable seats, making it one of the rare early “seats and spats” examples. Other special-ordered equipment included flashing-type turn indicators with amber glasses, double-filament headlamps with convex lenses, high-frequency horns with a muting switch, a speedometer in kilometers, and two fog lamps! Heavier front shock dampers and a special steering gear were specified, to improve handling, and a 17-inch high-speed engine fan and unique radiator were ordered to improve cooling. A radio was fitted; this was included in the R-Type Continental’s standard price, but in an effort to save weight, would only be installed at the owner’s request.

According to the RREC, the car was shown at the Geneva Salon in the spring of 1953, shortly after its delivery on February 19th to Louis Schneiter, Esq., a resident of Villa “Bois-Fleuri” in Coffet, Vaud, Switzerland. It remained in Europe until January 1, 1960, and was then acquired by its first American owner, Lamont Haggarty.

Eventually the car was acquired by the late Anthony “Bud” Korteweg of River Edge, New Jersey, founder of The Coachworks, a well-regarded Rolls-Royce and Bentley restoration facility that won numerous awards over the years in national competition. He remains the only person to have won the Rolls-Royce Owners Club Best in Show award three times. A man who believed in what he restored, Mr. Korteweg collected Rolls-Royce and Bentley himself, eventually amassing seven well-kept automobiles in the imposing Tudor-style garage of his home. The R-Type Continental was completely restored from the wheels up to its original appearance in Mr. Korteweg’s capable care, and it was the final automobile restored for his personal use.

Not merely a well-kept show car, this R-Type Continental is also a splendid driver. Recently test-driven by an RM Auctions specialist, it was reported to “idle smoothly, with a soft burbling exhaust note at speed, with brakes that work well. It rides and handles as well as any automobile I have ever been inside!” Offered with original tools and owner’s manual, it remains the perfect high-speed tour car for today, a testament to the greatness of the Bentley tradition.

Offered today as it stood at Geneva in 1953, this car assures its next owner of many proud years of ownership, as well as invitations to the most prestigious car events and concours in the world—events that can be reached quite swiftly and comfortably behind the wheel of the original Continental.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

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United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

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With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

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Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

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Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

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Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

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Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

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New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

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Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

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United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

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United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

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Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

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California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more