A Brief History of the Bentley Continental Through the Ages
An icon of the Rolls-Royce and Bentley brand, the Continental brings luxury to the road and provides an excellent driving experience. The history of the Bentley Continental involves the evolution of a luxurious piece of technology. Here, you will find an exciting look into this vehicle's history and how it has developed into today's powerful machine.
Bentley Motors was its own brand until other car companies like Rolls-Royce and Volkswagen bought them. In the 1990s, under the Rolls-Royce brand, the Bentley Continental that we know today came into the automotive world based on a 1950's prototype called the R-Type Continental. The prototype inspired the Bentley Continental and its descendants throughout generations.
The First Line
After the R-Type Continental, Bentley Motors produced multiple grand touring models from 1955 to 1965 since long drives were a regular activity at the time. These models were the Bentley S1 Continental, Bentley S2 Continental, and the Bentley S3 Continental. Each model was more prominent than the last.
The history of the Bentley Continental through the ages includes a powerful engine. The engine of the S1 was designed as a better version of the R-Type Continental with over 4,000 ccs and straight-six-cylinder formatting. This engine derives from the design of World War II engines and made way for the S2 and S3 models.
In 1959, the S2 had the innovative Rolls Royce-Bentley L series V8 engine, which was a significant improvement from the straight-six that so many vehicles used during the war. The S3 shared the same engine with minor modifications to performance.
Each S model had a long front with a short back, and throughout manufacturing, the grill and the hood became slightly more expansive. The S1 is similar to the design of the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and includes a smoother independent suspension with better steering, braking, and a four-speed automatic gearbox. The S2 has multiple formats, including a drophead and a cabriolet but the general structure of a standard saloon car.
The S3 had two different models: the 1286 with a drophead and the 32 with a coach design. Bentley improved the interior with more legroom in the back and individual seats in the front instead of one large bench seat.
The S models were popular because so many people were amazed by the R-Type. The cost of the S1 original was over £8000, or $10,000, with customization costing more. The S2 and S3 cost over $15,000 and $16,000, respectively, the increase stemming from their improved engine and designs.
The Second Line
Nearly two decades after the S3, the Bentley Motor brand released a new line of Continentals with models R, S, and T. These models had a blockier design with sharper edges than most cars in the 80s and 90s.
The Bentley Continental and the Rolls-Royce Corniche
Within the history of the Bentley Continental through the ages, Bentley Motors remained under Rolls-Royce Motors, so it isn't surprising that there are two vehicles from different brands with the same design. The Rolls-Royce Corniche was a two-door model luxury car with an aluminum V8 engine produced in 1971. It wasn't until 1984 that the Bentley Continental came out with the same design and similar specs.
Both vehicles had various design types, such as a hardtop drophead for the Rolls-Royce and a cabriolet design for the Bentley. Bentley and Rolls-Royce produced numerous models of both cars and improved on them into the 21st century.
The first model since the original Bentley Continental came in the form of the Bentley Continental R. The Continental R was the first model produced by Bentley that didn't have a similar design to Rolls-Royce and the first to have an electronic gear selector on the steering column. This model included hydraulic suspension and ventilated disc brakes for better motor control and stopping power.
The Continental S was a limited edition model with slight upgrades compared to the Continental R. This model came with a charged cooler that used liquid to cool the turbo. Bentley manufactured only 37 of these for loyal customers.
In 1996, Bentley rolled out the Continental T, which offered more power, handling, and a shorter wheel column. The wheel arches were more prominent in this model, allowing for better torque. All three Continentals from this generation used a V8 engine with a four-speed automatic transmission, creating more speed and power options for drivers.
The original model for the second generation's original Bentley Continental sold at around $155,000 and increased in price as different models became available. The Continental R originally sold for over £178,000 ($270,000); this price rose to about £180,000 two years after its launch. The Continental S and Continental T were sold for thousands more, most likely due to the limited offer.
Third Line (Present)
The latest Bentley generation has come a long way since the mid-1900s. We see the design's modern appearance of smoothed edges and compact structure, and the hood is smaller due to the engine size and advanced mechanics.
The Continental GT is the latest Bentley model produced each year with a new model. This current generation of Bentley Continental has many features to offer compared to its ancestors.
The third generation of the Continental, as of 2022, has three different models: the first Continental GT, the Continental GTC, and the Flying Spur. The Continental GT and GTC are grand tourers with W12 engines (engines with four rows of three cylinders).
The GT model was the first Bentley model produced under Volkswagen's brand, and the GTC is the convertible version of the GT. An upgrade from the second generation, the Continental GT uses a six-speed transmission for more control of the vehicle's power. The Flying Spur has the same specifications in the engine and transmission but features a unique plastic grille made to look like chrome.
The Continental GT was initially sold at half the price of the Continental R, making it open for more sales to the public. Bentley's production rates increased sevenfold when they produced the Flying Spur, boosting sales and customer rates. The GTC model had a price tag of over $196,000 due to its convertible design.
The price decrease in Bentley models has made it easier to get Bentley Continental rentals. The widespread availability draws more people to the chance of driving a Bentley, even if it's for a brief time.
The Bentley Continental is a magnificent car that made a name for itself and its brand over the past half a century. Given its track record, Continental will continue to make better versions of this luxury vehicle for the world to experience.