Bentley Continental R #1
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Bentley Continental R #2
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Bentley Continental R #3
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Bentley Continental R #4
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Bentley Continental R

The Bentley Continental R was a large, expensive, luxury coupé made by Rolls-Royce from 1991 to 2002. It was the first Bentley with a body that was not shared with a Rolls-Royce model since the S3 of 1965, the first to use the GM 4L80-E transmission, and the quickest, most expensive, and most powerful Bentley of its day. A convertible derivative, the Bentley Azure, was launched in 1995.

Origin

Many elements of the Continental R design were first seen at the 1984 Geneva Motor Show in Rolls-Royce's "Project 90" concept car, a mock-up of a future Bentley coupé. An enthusiastic reception led the company to develop the vehicle for production as the Continental R 1991. Based on the Bentley Turbo R floorpan, an aerodynamically shaped coupé body had been styled. The Continental debuted at the 1991 Geneva Motor Show, reportedly upstaging the W140 S-Class also launched there. Customer response was enthusiastic, and the Sultan of Brunei purchased the red show car right off the Geneva stand.

The "Continental" designation recalls the Bentley Continental of the post-war period, whose fame resulted from the combination of an impressive powertrain and attractive design as well as custom features specified by customers. The "R" was meant to recall the R Type Bentleys from the 1950s as well as the successful Turbo R of the 1980s.

The car's body, styled by John Heffernan and Ken Greenley, was a departure for the marque. It had a slight curving Coke bottle shape, a stark contrast to the slab-sided Rolls and Bentley cars of the time. While its 0.73 coefficient of drag was not impressive in itself, it was a large improvement over previous Bentleys. The Continental R also featured roof-cut door frames in the modern style and a subtle spoiler effect in the rear. Sixteen-inch alloy wheels also gave a sporting look.

Continental R

The well-proven 6.75 L Garrett-turbocharged engine from the Bentley Turbo R was chosen. Power output of 325 hp (242 kW) and torque of 450 ft·lbf (610 N·m) was estimated, as Rolls continued to refuse to supply official figures. Other sources estimate as high as 400 hp (298 kW) and 590 ft·lbf (800 N·m).

The car used the new 4-speed GM 4L80-E automatic transmission and stopped with ventilated disc brakes front and plain discs at the rear. Top speed was 145 mph (233 km/h), and Rolls estimated a 6.6 second sprint to 60 mph (97 km/h). The R was priced at US$271,780 in 1992.

The Continental S was a limited-edition performance model made in 1994 and 1995 with an intercooler added. This pushed power output up, and after the 18 S models were finished was applied to the regular Continental R as well.

The opportunity for customizing the specification was offered again from March 1999 with the Continental R Mulliner model range, introduced at the Geneva Motor Show to cater for an unusual requirements. A Bentley customer could specify his car in direct contact with engineers and designers at the Crewe factory. The Bentley Continental R Mulliner was equipped with the most powerful engine as hitherto only found on the Bentley Continental T. A power output of 420 hp (313 kW) and a maximum torque of 650 ft·lbf (881 N·m) was more than any other manufacturer in the world could offer. The car could be pushed up to a top speed of some 170 mph (274 km/h).

Production

+ Continental R (1991-2002): 1533

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