The Continental Sports Saloon
The prototype, originally named the Corniche II, was completed on the 27th of August 1951. By the time production commenced in January of 1952 the name of the production cars had been changed to the Continental Sports Saloon.
The designation R-Type Continental was only used after production has ceased to differentiate these cars from the subsequent S-1 Continental.
In addition to the prototype, there were 207 Continentals made between the 14th of May 1952 and the 22nd of April 1955.
All original chassis numbers, except the prototype, were prefixed by the letters BC for Bentley Continental.
They run consecutively, always omitting “13”, in five alphabetical series differentiated by the suffix letters- A, B, C, D, and E. The letter L inserted before the series letter indicates left-hand drive.
The Ins & Outs Of It
The Continental uses an inline 6 cylinder engine with a cast iron mono-block, an aluminium cylinder head, 6 overhead inlet valves, 6 side exhaust valves, single gear driven camshaft, cast aluminium pistons, forged steel connecting rods, forged nitrided steel crankshaft, and a wet sump lubrication system. The A, B, and C series Continentals were fitted with the 4½-litre engine that displaced 4,566 c.c.
This engine was known at the works as the B-60 or 35/8-bore engine and in Continental specification produced 158 BHP.
In the spring of 1954, the bore was increased to 3¾ inches, which raised the displacemant to 4,887 c.c. This engine was known at the works as the B-61 or 3¾-bore engine and in Continental specification produced 172 BHP. It was fitted to all the D and E series Continentals.
The 3¾-bore engine was also retro-fitted through an engine exchange programme to 37 of the 35/8-bore cars.
There were nine A-series, six B-series and 22 C-series Continentals that received the larger engine through exchange or overhaul.