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. 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 6.2 seconds and boosting top speed to in excess of 150mph.
There was even more to come in the form of the Continental T. Introduced in June 1996, the latter was a short-wheelbase version of the Continental R, some 4” being taken out of the chassis aft of the doors. With 400bhp at its disposal and crouching aggressively on 18” wheels, the low-slung Continental T looked every inch the thoroughbred Bentley sports car, the cockpit with its engine-turned dashboard recalling the heroic exploits of W O’s 1920s racers. The engine start button was another neat ‘retro’ touch. The luxuriously appointed Continental T was certainly no slouch, racing to 60mph in a tyre-shredding 5.8 seconds on its way to a (governor limited) top speed of 156mph. Equally eye-watering was the price: £220,312 at time of launch.
Displaying huge presence in midnight blue black with a matching black interior, this 1997 model Continental T shows a mere 43,000 miles recorded from new, backed up by the relevant service records. Offered with all EU taxes cleared, this is a true continent-crushing GT car in the traditional sense, and we feel a very wise investment for the future.