London

6 September 2017

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Lot 144

1955 Bentley R-Type Continental Fastback Sports Saloon by H.J. Mulliner

  • Chassis no. BC56D
  • Engine no. BCD55
  • Body no. 5785

£775,000 - £900,000

To be auctioned on Wednesday, September 6, 2017




  • 2017 Bentley Drivers Club Concours Best in Class winner
  • Offered from single-family ownership since 1983
  • Formerly owned by Victor Gauntlett; known history from new
  • Matching-numbers factory 4.9 engine, manual transmission and lightweight seats from new
  • Excellent condition, with a recent engine rebuild and a lovingly patinated interior
  • Offered with copies of factory build sheets and bespoke Continental Touring Spares box


In the early 1950s, there was no other automobile quite like it in the world, which made it attractive for connoisseur heads of state, captains of industry, as well as the burgeoning jet set. James Bond drove a version he had Mulliner re-body from a wreck in the 1961 novel Thunderball. Famously, in the words of Autocar magazine, it was ‘a modern magic carpet’. In the words of modern BDC members: ‘Best car I have ever owned.’ ‘Hope to take it to Heaven with me!’ ‘Would not swap it for a thousand camels, even in the middle of the desert.’ It was the fastest four-seat production car in the world – and the most expensive – cementing its exclusivity with only 207 made.

The example offered here, a well-developed ‘D’ series model of 1955, was delivered new with the most desirable features of the model, including the largest and most powerful 4.9-litre engine, manual gearbox and lightweight seats. As noted in the Bentley R-Type Continental Register, it was first allocated to London dealer H.R. Owen for the N.I.G. Manufacturing Company. This order was cancelled and the car was instead sold to P. Carrington, of H.M.F. Carrington, on 4 February 1955 and registered PXC 163.

The Continental subsequently passed in 1958 to the Nibbler Paper Mill Company, then in July of that year to Douglas Cory-Wright, who would maintain it for the next 20 years. John Donner, a well-known Bentley collector, acquired the car in 1978, memorably registering it in his ownership as ‘JD 12.’

In 1982 the Continental was purchased from Mr Donner by Victor Gauntlett, the immensely successful petroleum dealer and avid automobile enthusiast, who famously helped rejuvenate Aston Martin as its chairman and main financial backer during this era. Despite his presence at the helm in Newport Pagnell during this era, Gauntlett was a Bentley partisan who owned several important vintage examples of the marque, including the prototype R-Type Continental, ‘Olga’. During his ownership, he re-registered this Continental ‘X 111’. He sold chassis number BC56D in 1983 to the brother of the current owner, and it has remained in their family now for 34 years.

The car has had power steering installed and was exhibited at the Continental 50th Anniversary Celebration at Silverstone. More recently, the engine was rebuilt and electronic ignition installed, and the engine bay today presents in beautiful condition, as does the glamorous yet understated Silver Chalice finish of the bodywork. Within the car the interior has a lovely patina, with the appearance of having been driven and enjoyed – just as a Continental should look. Accompanying the car are copies of its build records, as well as its valuable original Continental Touring Spares kit and correct tools. It should also be noted that the original registration number PXC 163 has been reinstated.

A lovingly maintained and desirably equipped Continental from excellent long-term care, this beautiful gentleman’s machine recently won its class at the 2017 Bentley Drivers Club Concours, continuing a two-decade-long history of success in BDC Concours. It is ideally suited for continued enjoyment, offering splendid performance and fine style in the best Bentley tradition, as a very fine example of one the greatest post-war road cars.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more