Billed as one of the most celebrated motor vehicles in the British luxury marque’s 103-year history, Bentley is celebrating 70 years since the start of production of the R-Type Continental. 


The prototype R-Type Continental, known as ‘Olga’ thanks to its OLG490 registration, was already on the road one year before the production version was manufactured. The ‘Olga’s’ 114 kW 4.6-litre inline-six allowed the Bentley to travel at an average speed of 191.1096 km/h over five laps at the banked Montlhèry track near Paris.

When production started in 1952, the first Bentley to don the “Continental” badge was the fastest four-seater and most expensive car globally. It cost £6 928 (a whopping R137 340.99!). Bentley says this was nearly four times the price of an “average” UK house in 1952.

The first Continental was the brainchild of chief projects engineer Ivan Evernden and chief stylist John Blatchley. To reach the target weight, coachbuilders HJ Mulliner crafted the bodywork, window frames, windscreen surround, backlight, seat frames and bumpers from aluminium. 

When production ended in 1955, only 208 examples were made. One of these is still owned by the Crew-based carmaker.