1954 Bentley R-Type 4.6-Litre Coupé Coachwork by Abbott of Farnham Registration no. 764 BBP Chassis no. B329SP Engine no. B414S
'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 Silver Wraith and Bentley MkVI models. 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. 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. Abbott's streamlined Continental-style two-door coupé coachwork, designed by stylist Peter Woodgate, had been intended for the superseded MkVI chassis and bore more than a passing resemblance to H J Mulliner's contemporary Bentley Continental.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 'B329SP' was supplied with the shallower Continental-type radiator, lower (28 degrees) steering column and higher-than-standard (12/41) axle ratio that enabled it to make optimum use of the Abbott body's reduced weight and superior aerodynamics. Expert opinion differs with regard to how many R-Types were bodied by Abbott, the most commonly quoted figures being 14 or 15. Accompanying copy chassis cards record the supplying retailer as P J Evans Ltd of Birmingham and the first owner as Neal Carr Esq of Cano Works, Cranmore Boulevard, Shirley, Birmingham. Four further owners are listed, the last of whom, Dr David Stafford-Clarke of Woldingham, Surrey, acquired the Bentley in May 1961. The car was first registered 'OLF 9'. Chassis number 'B329SP' returned to this country from the USA in 1999 in semi-dismantled state and in 2002 was sold to Mr Robert Dowling, who commissioned a full, no-expense-spared restoration at Wilkinson's of Derby, which was carried out over a seven-year period at a cost exceeding £150,000 (bills on file). Mr Dowling sold the car to the current owner in 2010, since when it has been checked over by marque specialists Hillier Hill and a further £8,000 spent on various works. Finished in grey metallic with red leather interior, this rare coachbuilt Bentley R-Type is described as in generally excellent condition and offered with the aforementioned bills, old-style logbook, current MoT/tax and Swansea V5C document.