Hershey | Lot 269

1954 Bentley R-Type Saloon by James Young

$63,800 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania

8 October 2021

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  • Offered from the Collection of Charles Gillet
  • One of 28 examples built with this striking coachwork
  • Among the most modern and attractive R-Types

Charles Gillet always admired and appreciated Bentley automobiles, which were one of the foundations of his collecting. The longest-term denizen of his collection was this car, R-Type number B26WH, one of 28 bodied to this design by the renowned Kent coachbuilders James Young. It is a remarkable design in the modernity of its lines, with fenders that are shapely but more in vogue of early 1960s design than the mid-1950s, and in many ways can be looked upon as forecasting the future. Indeed, chassis number B26WH was among the final R-Types produced, prior to the introduction of the successor S1—which, in its factory “Standard Steel Saloon” form, greatly resembles this R-Type. One wonders how much Bentley’s designers were looking to James Young for inspiration.

The car was originally delivered in July 1954 to K.A. Smith; according to Mr. Gillet, it was specially ordered with an R-Type Continental-style radiator shell and hood. In the early 1980s it was acquired from D.A. Sutherland of Martinsburg, West Virginia, by Charles Gillet, who submitted it to Billy Thompson’s noted White Post Restorations of Virginia for restoration back to original condition.

It is noteworthy that this was a relatively early restoration of a postwar Bentley, at the time scarcely 30 years old, and thus was an early indicator of Mr. Gillet’s intention to have his cars in the finest condition possible, regardless of effort and cost. Indeed, the restoration received an AACA Grand National First Prize in 1986. Following Mr. Gillet’s acquisition and restoration of his Phantom I, also offered today, the two automobiles were frequently shown together as a pair at events, representing bookends of Rolls-Royce and Bentley styling and history.

Few R-Type saloons are more attractive than this beautiful coachbuilt car, offered today from its long-term, caring home in Charles Gillet’s superbly curated collection.

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