In 1952, Bentley Motors released the R Type, replacing the Mark VI (produced between 1946 and 1952).  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).

Bentley R Type
1953 Bentley R-Type Continental H. J. Mulliner

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, although the R-Type could comfortably cruise at 100 mph even with four occupants and luggage.  The R-Type was an exceptional example of the celebrated British automotive engineering of the time.

The R Type Continental

The Continental is a high-performance two-door model of 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.  This was a car that matched luxury with performance, designed to run for long periods at high speeds across Continental Europe.  The engine of the Continental was fine-tuned to raise the power to 140-153bhp.  In September 1951, at the Montlhèry track near Paris, the sleek new Bentley Continental averaged 118.75 mph over five laps, with a best lap speed just under 120mph.  This was an incredible automobile.

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
Bentley R Type
SMITHS speedometer in a 1953 Bentley R Type


Between 1952 and 1955 Bentley Motors built 2323 R Type cars, with 208 R-Type Continentals.  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 up to £1,100,000 (2019 – Hagerty Insurance).  In 1952, the R-Type Continental sold for £6,928, which was almost 15 times the UK average annual income.

For more information on gauges for classic cars like the Bentley R-Type, please contact us on:

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +44 (0) 1639 732200

Via the website