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Lot 437: Bentley Continental T Coupé

Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motor Cars and Automobilia, Bonhams (19 June 2010)

By the end of the 1970s, Bentleys 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 Sportscar' 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 '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 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. Despite weighing as much as two Ford Mondeo 1.8s 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. This stunning Continental T has had only three keepers since its first registration and has covered only 25,000 miles from new. It comes fully equipped with an upgraded Alpine CD auto-changer hi-fi; air conditioning; electrically adjustable heated memory seating; electrically adjustable steering column; electric windows and door mirrors; 18" 5-spoke alloy wheels with red 'B' centre caps; burr walnut veneer dashboard and door cappings; engine start button; 'town and country' horns; and driver/passenger airbags. Finished in Black Emerald with Spruce hide upholstery/headlining and Hampton Green carpets, the car is described has an impressive service history (19 stamps in total) and is described as in generally good condition. Carried out by Broughtons of Surrey in June 2009 at 22,374 miles, the most recent service included replacing the steering rack, nearside rear suspension damper, rocker cover gaskets and front brake discs/pads. Broughtons' detailed invoice for £10,370 is on file and the car also comes with current road fund licence, Swansea V5 registration document and fresh MoT.

Lot Details
Auction Rolls-Royce, Bentley Motor Cars and Automobilia
Bonhams, Rockingham Castle, Northamptonshire
Lot Number437
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£52000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£58700
Condition rating0
Registration numberP628 AKG
Chassis numberSCBZU23C8UCH53364
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors