By the end of the 1970s, Bentley accounted for a mere 3% of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ production, clearly a situation that could not be tolerated if the once-famous marque was to avoid extinction. The solution was to seek to re-establish Bentley’s credentials as the purveyor of high-performance luxury cars, and in a move calculated to evoke memories of the company’s glorious past achievements at Le Mans, the name ‘Mulsanne’ was chosen for the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit’s counterpart. This strategy would succeed brilliantly. Launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1982, the Mulsanne Turbo provoked a rash of headlines in the motoring press hailing the return of the ‘Blower Bentley’ – the ‘Silent Sports Car’ was back.
Bentley’s 1980s resurgence had hitherto relied exclusively on models whose basic architecture was shared with other Rolls-Royce products, but on display at Geneva in ’85 was ‘Project 90’, a mocked-up coupé intended to gauge public response to the idea of a high-performance car unique to Bentley. When the real thing – the Bentley Continental R – was unveiled six years later, the waiting crowd burst into spontaneous applause. Styled with the assistance of consultants International Automotive Design, the Continental R benefited from computer-aided design and wind tunnel testing in the devising of its sleekly streamlined shape. Despite the need to incorporate non-traditional features such as doors recessed into the roof, the result looked every bit a Bentley, albeit one restated for the 1990s. Also new was the gearbox, a four-speed automatic with an ‘overdrive’ top ratio, but the main focus of interest was the newcomer’s performance. Needless to say, this was outstanding, the combination of the Turbo R engine in the new wind-cheating shape cutting the 0-60mph time to under 6 seconds and boosting top speed to in excess of 150mph.
Finished in Dark Green with over ivory, the excellent example we have on offer today benefits from a full Jack Barclay service history and has covered a mere 83,000 miles from new. Chassis CH63003 was purchased by Mr Amstrong-Jones in 2008 to form part of his personal collection. Having covered a mere 1600 miles since its last invoice expenditure of £12,500 at Jack Barclays in 2011, this delightful Bentley moves with graceful and effortless power. Arguably the nicest, and certainly the best maintained Continental R Coys has seen it is offered with MoT until 2015 and UK V5 registration.