1953 Bentley R-Type
Older restoration in good order throughout; bills for £37,000 between 2005 and 2013; in light, regular use; very smart indeed
"Years of painstaking research and development with mechanical perfection as the goal show their results unmistakably. Smoothness and quietness and sheer quality are in the superlative." Introduced at the 1952 Earls Court Motor Show, the handsome Bentley R-Type was rapturously received by press and public alike, as this period Autocar summary indicates.
A subtle reworking of its MkVI predecessor, it would have been called the MkVII had Jaguar not just appropriated the name for their flagship saloon. Effectively a longer booted version of the MkVI, the R-Type was powered by a silky smooth 'Big Bore' 4,566cc straight-six engine with twin SU carbs and aluminium cylinder head.
Despite weighing nearly two tons, it was a spritely performer, especially in manual guise, achieving 106mph in near silence and reaching 50 from standstill in just 10 seconds. Servo assisted drum brakes provided the stopping power while suspension was independent with coil springs to the front, leaf springs to the rear. Enjoyable to drive with a light, surefooted feel, it had enough power to give even contemporary sportscars a serious run for their money.
Inside things got even better, the lucky occupants cossetted in acres of hide and walnut that truly justified the cliche of 'a gentleman's club on wheels'. Just 2,320 examples were made before the R-Type was replaced by the much larger S1 in 1955. All the more surprising then, that they are such good value today, being more or less in the same price bracket as a relatively humdrum MkII Jag.
First registered in May 1953, this particular R-Type looks most striking in dark blue over cream with white-band tyres. It comes with a good file of invoices which show that some £37,000 was spent on the car between 2005 and 2013.
This included all the brightwork being rechromed in 2005 by Doug Taylor of Somerset at a cost of over £2,500. At the same time the whole interior was retrimmed with new carpets, a new headlining, refurbished woodwork and new navy Connolly leather seat covers piped in cream by Cartops of Ealing at a cost of £5,100. In 2006 a replacement MkVI 4,257cc engine was fitted which was said to be ‘superb’ and cost £5,000.
In 2007, when the car was owned by a wedding car company, it was sent to Britannia Motor Engineering of Waltham Cross to get it into tip-top order bodily and mechanically which cost just under £14,500. In 2010 the front brakes and the carburettor were overhauled by Frank Dale & Stepsons of London at a cost of £1,252. In 2012 it had a complete new exhaust system supplied by Flying Spares which cost £1,169. At the same time it also had repairs to the rear chassis leg and a new boot floor which cost another £3,300.
In June 2013 it was bought by a previous owner from Panorama Bay of Poole with a three month/3,000 mile warranty at a cost of £29,995. A valuation certificate from the same time states that it should have an insurance value of £40,000 due to the ‘good condition, rarity and the mileage’ which was stated as 37,116 at that date.
In November 2013 it was bought by a Shrewsbury gentleman to join a large collection of cars, sitting in Carcoon storage for the next two years before being entered into a Brightwells auction in September 2015 which is when our vendor acquired it.
Another collector with over 60 years’ experience of the Bentley marque, he has kept the car in heated storage ever since, in company with several other fine machines from the Vintage era. During his seven-year ownership the Bentley has been lightly but regularly used, attending local shows and Vintage racing events and also providing regal and reliable transport at various weddings for family and friends. He estimates that he has probably done around 500 miles in the car but points out that the odometer is not currently working so he can't be sure of the exact mileage.
He reports that the car drives very well indeed and is only for sale to free up space for another, much earlier car which has recently joined his collection. Starting promptly and running beautifully as we have moved it around on site, it remains in generally good order throughout, with healthy oil pressure and just a few minor blemishes to the bodywork here and there, as can be seen in the photos.
On offer here at a very attractive guide price, this handsome and well-historied Bentley is ready for a new owner to enjoy and is sure to turn heads wherever it goes.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or email [email protected]
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