Lot 215

London 2023

1952 Bentley R-Type Continental Fastback Sports Saloon by H.J. Mulliner


Sold After Auction

United Kingdom Flag | London, United Kingdom



Chassis No.
  • Displayed at the 1952 Paris Salon
  • Features desirable lightweight seats and manual gearbox
  • Finished in Oxford blue over a red leather interior
  • Complete known history with just seven owners from new; in current ownership since 2007
  • Complemented by a fascinating history file with over 450 pages of invoices, correspondence, and photographs dating from 1952 to 2021
  • Accompanied by its owner’s handbook, spare wheel, jack, and toolkit
Please note if this vehicle is exported outside of the UK an export license will be required.

For the sophisticated driver in the early 1950s, it was hard to imagine a better all-round luxury tourer than Bentley’s R-Type Continental. Near silent at speed, smooth, elegant, with space for four plus luggage, and the ability to hit 120 mph, this was a car for all purposes and all seasons.

H. J. Mulliner was responsible for crafting the bodywork on the vast majority of what Bentley originally called the ‘Continental Sports Saloon’. It was clear from the outset that these cars were a hit with Bentley’s clientele as order books quickly filled up, despite it being one of the most expensive cars in the world with an asking price of £6,928. Only 207 R-Type Continentals would be built and though its production numbers were low, these cars are considered today to be among the finest driving and most desirable Bentleys of all.

Reaching completion on 4 April 1952, chassis BC6A was despatched to H. J. Mulliner to be bodied as a right-hand-drive R-Type Continental Fastback Sports Saloon. Finished on 20 August that year, the elegant coachwork was coated in shade of green, with the interior trimmed with grey leather. A special car, BC6A was commissioned by the factory to be displayed at the 1952 Paris Salon de l’Automobile in October, and upon its road test on 25 August a French journalist inadvertently captured a photo of the car. Being a factory order, this example had the underside of the bonnet painted in cream, likely a decision taken to brighten up the engine bay for visitors to the Paris Motor Show.. Photographs on file depict this R-Type Continental on the Paris show stand on 1 October.

Following the Paris Salon, chassis BC6A entered the stock of Franco-Britannic Automobiles and was sold new to its first owner, Henri Lafond, on 31 October. Six years later, on 1 October 1958, the car was acquired by the second owner, V. Millet; while in his care, Franco-Britannic Automobiles upgraded the engine with a new 4.9-litre block. It entered the possession of its final French custodian on 3 October 1962. During its time in France, BC6A was repainted in a shade of grey.

Two years later, while the car was sitting in the Franco-Britannic showroom, Colonel G.P. Burnham—proprietor of Burnham & Co. of South East London—sent a letter regarding the asking price and to request assistance importing it to the UK. Acquiring chassis BC6A for £1,000, Burnham soon had his R-Type Continental brought back home; a meticulous man, every single piece of correspondence with Franco-Britannic Auto, and receipts from other workshops were kept and filed in date order. More than 200 pages of detailed information can be found on file regarding the history of chassis BC6A from 1964 until 1976, when Burnham sold the car. He even kept a mileage log charting fuel and oil use.. In December 1972, Burnham had the car repainted in the same colour grey as when he first acquired the car. He used this car almost daily according to his logs, and amassed more than 70,000 kilometres over his 12 years of ownership.

Burnham parted ways with chassis BC6A when he sold the car to G. E. Turner on 1 July 1976. Little is known about his ownership period, though the buff logbook and V5 from 1982 show that he owned the car for six years before selling it to Victor Clark on 1 December 1983. Clark immediately embarked on a full and nut bolt restoration from 1985 to 1987. The majority of the work was carried out by Healey Bros Ltd. of Northamptonshire, with invoices exceeding £10,000. During the restoration, BC6A was repainted from grey to Oxford Blue and was fitted with the red leather interior it has today.

Retaining chassis BC6A for 35 years, Victor Clark was as meticulous as Colonel Burnham; invoices and previous MoTs date all the way back to 1983, and for almost every year there is paperwork showing servicing, maintenance, and repairs. This Bentley was used frequently and likely covered in excess of 50,000 kilometres during this period of ownership. When sold to the current owner on 19 April 2007, the history file boasted over 400 pages of invoices and receipts from previous owners.

Under the care of the current owner, chassis BC6A has had nearly £20,000 spent on maintenance and servicing, with the car subject to several thousand pounds worth of paintwork in 2022; invoices for all the work can be found on file. This Bentley is still finished in Oxford Blue with a red leather interior. In the boot lies the spare wheel and factory-supplied toolkit, alongside a jack.

Today, chassis BC6A presents as a wonderful example of Bentley’s R-Type Continental Fastback Sports Saloon. Built in right-hand-drive configuration and having starred as the Paris Show car, not to mention boasting arguably one of the most impressive history files one could ask for, BC6A is sure to attract the attention of discerning collectors looking for only the very best examples to add to their collections.