May 28, 2015 @ 06:10 PM

Legends and Legacies: Bentley Continental 1953

The coupe that lasted through time and through the new century. By Jerrica Leong

The coupe that lasted through time and through the new century. By Jerrica Leong
Bentleys now have an iconic look cross its model’s range, word has it that it all started with the Bentley Continental Mark VI that was created after the WWII. And why not, even you can tell that the super coupe you see here is one beautiful specimen.

Bentley knows the Continental as “quite possibly the finest motor car available to humanity” during the post war. And there was proof that it is, the Continental may be a two door coupe but the rich and privileged could fit four bodies into the car and travel through the country in incomparable comfort and bring along plenty of luggage.

The Continental is not like any other Bentley of its time, instead of comfort and luxury the Continental also provides drivers with a brilliant drive as well. There were signs in the car that proves that Bentley had specifically designed it to be a car for those that enjoys a good drive. Those signs were the presence of a rev counter and an oil temperature gauge, items that were deemed unnecessary on the saloon Bentley.

It’s powerful, very powerful indeed for a large car of the 50s. The 4-litre straight-six engine dispenses 4566cc freely thanks to a high compression ratio and a big-bore exhaust system. The four-speed manual gearbox gives the Bentley a fantastically long stride and a top speed of 199kph. Not bad for a large coupe!

Of course this was helped by the diet that Bentley had subjected the Continental to. Instead of the comfortable armchair-like seats in the saloon, the Continental features small sports bucket seats with alloy frames, while the bumper was made of light-weight aluminium and not the usual steel. It’s a spritely coupe that made the escape from post-war London for the privilege in style.

The Continental Mk VI was one of the first models produced in Bentley and Rolls-Royce’s new operation grounds in Crewe, the shape was created around the signature Bentley grilles in Rolls-Royce’s wind tunnel under the sharp eye of styling supremo John Blatchley. The alloy bodywork was then built in London by HJ Mulliner on special high-performance chassis.

But the tail fins that helped the Continental MK IV track straight at high speeds and the swoopy elegant design was quickly replaced with the R-Type Continental, it was this version of the Continental that became the most collectible Bentley. There are only 208 R-Type Continental cars built and sold, but not all were the same four-speed manual Continentals.

The R-Type Continental went through a number of changes to suit the customer’s liking. The smaller sporty seats were the first to undergo a change for owners wanted fatter seats, then the manual gearbox made way for automatic gearboxes to suit the trend. The aluminium bumpers were discarded and replaced by steel bumpers. And so there went the lightweight agile Continental, turning the car into just another heavy coach built Bentley.

The Continental enjoyed had its glory days, and there are enthusiasts who believe that Bentley’s desire to please its target audience had led to the less appealing Continental. But it still went down in history as one of the most sporty and elegant car from the Bentley marque.

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