Classic Bentley Fastbacks: When Bentleys weren’t Big German Barges

1955-Bentley-R-Type-Continental-Fastback-1-546x363

 

Do you think they are handsome or hideous? Every classic collection should have one.

There have been a lot of Bentleys over the years and recently they seem to have been bereft of what made a Bentley a Bentley. The beautiful picnic tables in the rear gave the impression that you’d be able to head into the country and have a spot of lunch in your very own cocoon of leather from cows that have been fed only on the dewiest mountain grass. What wasn’t leather would be wood veneered from ancient growth forests with the burls selected for their strength and  character and subtlety of grain. The very best of the very best materials made those nestled inside feel like royalty staying at the Savoy.

The owners were film stars and princes, kings and billionaires, mistresses and managing directors but all had very expensive taste. Among the rarest of the Bentleys were these R fastbacks. the 4.6 (later 4.8l)  engines were not exactly spritely and managed an anaemic  13 sec 0-100. That, and the appalling fuel consumption, didn’t matter to those rich enough to have one of these beauties in their garage. The handling wasn’t too brilliant either. They wallowed over the road like a whale out of water,but no matter because they were designed only to cruise leisurely but elegantly along wide straight boulevards sprinkled liberally with rarest of rose petals and the pelts of a million baby harp seals. So you won’t be cornering at Olympic speeds or accelerating at light speed but you will be doing everything else with as much class as very old money can buy.

Getting into one of these old girls now still transports you instantly to the time where girls wore full skirts with dozens of petticoats and the boys in snappy suits with hand-made shoes. The smell is that of a  gentrified club with antique carpets, well-worn chesterfields and old pipe smoke. This is just the place to enjoy an gently stirred martini and hors d’oeuvre whipped up by your man who knows what you want before you do. You shouldn’t be drinking and driving? Of course not, your man is doing the driving and you’re  in the back, being spoiled, and why not.

Cheers!

Bentley R and continental

 

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