Amelia Island

The Ritz-Carlton
12 March 2016
Lot 147

1954 Bentley R-Type Continental Fastback Sports Saloon by H.J. Mulliner


$1,815,000 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida



Chassis No.
Engine No.
Body No.
  • Most desirable configuration of factory LHD, 4.9-liter engine, center-shift manual transmission, and “seats and spats”
  • Four private owners from new
  • Regularly driven and enjoyed since its Amelia Island Best in Class–winning restoration
  • The ultimate R-Type Continental

Body Style 7277. 178 bhp, 4,887 cc OHV inline six-cylinder engine with two SU carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with wishbones, coil springs, and an anti-roll bar, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 120 in.

Chassis BC2LD is of the ultimate specification for an R-Type Continental. It was the second chassis to be built with the largest and most powerful 4.9-liter engine, here combined with the desirable, sporting center-mounted four-speed gear change; it is reportedly one of only seven left-hand-drive cars with both the 4.9 engine and “center shift.” In addition, it was optioned with lightweight bucket seats and rear wheel skirts, the famous “seats and spats” that are as hotly desired by R-Type Continental enthusiasts as “chairs and flares” are by Dino cognoscenti. The body is, of course, the iconic Mulliner Fastback Sports Saloon, specified dressed in Maroon with Putty interior—the same combination that the car still wears today.

The R-Type Continental Register and original build documents note that the car was road-tested August 16, 1954, and subsequently completed on August 21st. Afterward, it was shipped from London to New York aboard the SS American Producer and was sold by Manhattan dealer J.S. Inskip on November 17th to its original owner, Mary Thurston Horn. A member of one of New York’s oldest families, Miss Horn was the daughter of prominent lawyer and bibliophile William Thurston Horne and spent her life as the benefactor of numerous worthy causes in New York City. Her residence at the time she purchased her Bentley, 1158 Fifth Avenue, is still an elite address today.

In 1957, the Continental passed to its second owner, Arthur M. Young, an aeronautical engineer who is noted in the Register as having tuned the car’s engine for increased power. It was maintained in his ownership for the remainder of his life, by which time it had been driven approximately 110,000 reliable miles! In 1995, it was sold by his estate to a broker in the United Kingdom, for whom it was subsequently restored before being passed back to the United States in the hands of Miles Marsh.

Mr. Marsh brought the Continental to well-known specialists Vantage Motorworks of Miami, Florida, which upgraded its restoration to modern Pebble Beach standards, including a thorough overhaul of all mechanical aspects of the car and a thorough detailing, including date-stamped Lucas electrical components. An authentic Continental Touring Spares kit was sourced for the car, and factory brochure photographs allowed for the recreation of a six-piece set of fitted luggage to original Mulliner designs.

Thereafter, the car was acquired in January 2009 by its current owner, the fourth registered owner from new, who had lusted for a “D” series Continental since admiring a similar car at Pebble Beach several years earlier. The restoration work at Vantage Motorworks was completed under the new ownership, after which the car was debuted at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, followed by Best in Class here at Amelia Island in 2010.

Frequently driven and enjoyed since, the car is offered today with its original owner’s handbook and a collection of documentation relating to its history and restoration. It is, quite simply, an R-Type Continental that has all that the knowledgeable buyer seeks: the best possible options and equipment, the most powerful engine, an iconic body style, known history with only a few careful keepers, and a well-maintained restoration. It is a superior example in virtually every way and will undoubtedly be among the most sought-after Continentals to come to market in recent years.