SMITHS and the Bentley R Type

SMITHS and the Bentley R Type

In 1952, Bentley Motors released the R Type, replacing the Mark VI (produced between 1952 and 1955).  The car was Bentley’s second series of post-war automobiles.  Apart from radiator grilles and carburation, there was little difference between the R Type and the Rolls Royce Silver Dawn (1949-1955).

The R Type was very similar to the Mark VI, with the notable exception of a much larger boot.  As with many Bentley cars, the R Type was available with a standard body or one designed by coachbuilders including H.J. Mulliner & Co, Park Ward, Harold Radford, Freestone and Webb, and Carrosserie Worblaufen.

Engine Performance

The R Type is driven by a 4,566 cc, 4.6-Litre IOE straight-6 engine generating 130 hp.  The top speed was approximately 120 mph.

The R Type Continental

The Continental is a high-performance two-door model, which was the fastest four-seat car of the time.  The lightweight body construction, using metal throughout rather than ash-framed bodies, was designed in conjunction with H.J. Mulliner.

SMITHS Instrumentation

The R Type features classic SMITHS instrumentation including:

  • Speedometer (0-140 mph)
  • Tachometer (0 – 5000 RPM)
  • Ammeter
  • Oil temperature gauge
  • Dual water temperature and oil pressure gauge
  • Clock


Between 1952 and 1955 Bentley Motors built 2323 R Type cars.  The R Type proved far more popular than the car’s Rolls Royce competitor, the Silver Dawn, with only 760 produced.

Present Pricing

Classic Bentley R Type cars in a good condition have an purchase price of between £800,000 and £1,100,000 (2019 – Hagerty Insurance).

Caerbont Automotive Instruments (CAI) continue to manufacture SMITHS instruments for classic cars at their facility near Swansea in South Wales.  

All photographs taken by Paul Fears Photography

For more information on SMITHS gauges for any classic car, please contact us on:

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Tags: Bentley, Bentley R Type, Bentley R Type Continental

Categories: Case Histories

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