The Earls Court Motor Show car and first R-Type chassis produced 1952 Bentley R-Type 4.6-Litre Two-Door Coupé Coachwork by Abbott of Farnham Registration no. UPB 153 Chassis no. B2RT Engine no. B1R
'In June 1952 the R-Type was presented to the public and it owed its name to the fact that the VI series had by this time reached the chassis letter R...(it) became one of the most popular Bentleys ever built.' Adams & Roberts, 'A Pride of Bentleys', NEL, 1978. Rolls-Royce commenced production post-war with the Bentley MkVI models followed by the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith. The traditional separate chassis was retained for the two newcomers, but for the first time there was standard coachwork. This new 'standard steel' body - produced by the Pressed Steel Company, of Oxford - was available at first only on the Bentley, the equivalent Rolls-Royce - the Silver Dawn - not appearing until 1949. The range featured a new design of independent front suspension, hydraulic front brakes and a new 4,257cc, six-cylinder, 'F-head' (inlet-over-exhaust) power unit destined for enlargement to 4,566cc in 1951. A much-needed improvement to the standard bodywork arrived in mid-1952 in the shape of an enlarged boot together with associated changes to the rear wings and suspension, subsequent models being known as the R-Type Bentley and E-Series Silver Dawn. The two newcomers were the first Rolls-Royce products available with automatic transmission, the company having opted for General Motors' Hydra-Matic, a state-of-the-art four-speed unit permitting manual selection built under licence by Rolls-Royce. The standard R-Type was a lively performer, achieving 106mph in silence and reaching 50mph from standstill in 10 seconds despite a kerb weight approaching two tons. As usual, the R-Type could be ordered in chassis form for bodying by specialist coachbuilders, this manual transmission example being the work of E D Abbott of Farnham, Surrey. 'B2RT' is the first of the improved Bentley R-Type chassis produced, and was delivered to Abbott in June 1952. The stylish, streamlined two-door coupé coachwork, designed by Abbott's stylist Peter Woodgate, had been intended for the superseded MkVI chassis and bore more than a passing resemblance to H J Mulliner's contemporary Bentley Continental. Although not designated a Continental, right-hand drive chassis 'B2RT' was supplied with a shallower radiator, lower steering column and higher-than-standard axle ratio that enabled it to make optimum use of the Abbott body's reduced weight and superior aerodynamics. The completed car was exhibited at the Earls Court Motor Show in October 1952 and first registered in France on 30th January 1953. It was subsequently reregistered 'UPB 153' in the UK in January 1954. The car is illustrated on page 100 of Rodney Steel's book, Bentley - The Cars From Crewe. Expert opinion differs with regard to how many R-Types were bodied by Abbott, the most commonly quoted figures being 14 or 15. Sold at the Beaulieu Autojumble auction in 1992, 'B2RT' was recorded at that time as having remained in single family ownership from 1962 'until recently', and had been in storage for many years. In January 1993 the Bentley was acquired by its next owner and immediately sent for restoration, a necessarily expensive and lengthy process that took the next 10 years to complete. The current vendor purchased the car at Bonhams & Butterfields' auction at Westport, Connecticut in September 2010 (Lot 337). Finished in two-tone black/grey livery that accentuates the body's sweeping lines, 'B2RT' boasts an interior re-trimmed in black leather and is not only a very rare and attractive car by design, but also one whose condition is equally appealing. This rare coachbuilt Bentley R-Type is offered with current MoT and Swansea V5C document.