2003 continental r – c1 bml

Bentley’s Turbo R of 1985 had set the company on a bold new course, re-establishing its performance credentials. But it was the Continental R, launched to acclaim at Geneva in 1991, that showed what Bentley could become at the dawn of the 21st Century. With a top speed of over 150 mph it was a true high-performance grand tourer, and the first Bentley with its own unique body since the R Type Continental of 1952.

A New Bentley Grand Tourer

The Continental R was based on the chassis and running gear of the Turbo R, but in place of the latter’s three-box four-door saloon it was clothed in an elegant and beautifully proportioned two-door coupé body. Inside, a full-length centre console created four separate sports seats and for the first time in a Bentley the gear selector was mounted on the centre console, in easy reach of the driver’s hand. The Continental R’s turbocharged 6.75-litre V8 developed 355 bhp; 0-62mph took just 6.6 seconds. While it was no lighter than the Turbo R, the more aerodynamic shape gave it a 9 mph higher top speed, at 152 mph.

The response from Bentley customers worldwide was overwhelming, and two years’ production was spoken for in the weeks following its launch. Closely related models during its 12 years of production included the convertible Azure, the Continental T and the rare Continental SC. 

In 1998 the Continental R was upgraded to the Continental R Mulliner; distinguishing features included flared wheel arches, mesh wing vents, sports bumpers and the 420bhp turbocharged V8 from the Continental T. This gave it a top speed of close to 170 mph and cut the 0-62 mph time to just 6.0 seconds. A total of 1,548 Continental R models were built, including 158 Mulliner editions, 44 Le Mans Series and 11 Final Series.


The Heritage Collection’s example is the last Continental R Final Series produced, finished in Silver Pearl with a Black hide interior. Highlights include black lacquered woodwork, diamond quilted seats, gloss black brake callipers, the Bentley ‘jewel’ fuel filler cap and two black and silver umbrellas.

Date Produced1991-2003; this model 2003
Number Built1,335 plus 158 Continental R Mulliner, 44 Le Mans editions and 11 Final Series
BodyCoupé; 2-doors, 4-seats; weight 2,450 kg
EngineV8 6,750 cc. 2 pushrod overhead valves; hydraulic tappets; gear-driven central cast iron camshaft; aluminium block and heads; Garrett AiResearch TO48 Turbocharger; intercooler; Zytek EMS3 Engine Management
Power420 bhp (313 kW) @ 4,000 rpm
TransmissionRear wheel drive; GM Turbo Hydra-Matic 4-speed transmission; final drive 2.69:1
ChassisSteel monocoque, front and rear sub-frames; independent front suspension by coil springs and wishbones; anti-roll bar; independent rear suspension by coil springs and trailing arms; anti-roll bar; electronic ride and traction control
DimensionsWheelbase 306.1 cm (120.5 in); track front 154.9 cm (61 in) rear 158 cm (62.1 in); length 535 cm
Performance170 mph. 0-62 mph 6.0 sec


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