The Story Of The Bentley Continental
With the arrival of the extraordinary New Bentley Continental GT, Grange is on hand to provide the story of the Bentley Continental, which actually begins during the 17th and 18th Century long before Bentley was founded.
During these two centuries, young men and women of the British nobility were known to take Grand Tours around Europe in a voyage filled with excitement and discovery. The grand tourer range of cars now available to us is inspired by these adventures, as they refer to vehicles which can deliver a truly exhilarating driving experience while being comfortable enough to make even long journeys effortless.
With Bentley being all about a blend of performance and luxury, it's little wonder that their cars have made up a large part of the grand touring sector for the past century.
The First Bentley Grand Tourer
Bentley's first foray into the grand touring sector was actually also the first car that the British brand ever released. The 3-Litre was designed by Bentley founder W.O Bentley and came complete with innovative features at the time, such as twin spark plugs, twin carburettors and a crossflow cylinder head. Autocar magazine praised the 3-Litre, stating that it combined "docility in traffic with exceptional speed potentiality on the open road".
Impressive & Effortless
Bentley would continue to make a huge impression on the grand touring market, first with the launch of the six-cylinder 6 ½-Litre model - a car with a mesh stone-guard that protected the vehicle's radiator from flying stones and to which the influence can continue to be seen on the matrix grille styling of today's Bentley grand tourer range - and then with W.O. Bentley's masterpiece, the 8-Litre.
It wouldn't be until after the Second World War that Bentley began to use the name ‘Continental' on its cars though, with the first vehicle to receive this moniker being the 1952 R-Type Continental. This vehicle caught the eye for its fastback roofline, low, long and lithe body, and the fins which added to the rear wings for stability.
But, how did it get the ‘Continental' part of its name? This came about as Britain was without motorways back in the 1950s, which meant that drivers who wanted to witness the true grand touring experience had to seek out the open roads of continental Europe - a journey that helped coin the phrase in the process.
The Continental R
Many more Bentley Continental cars would follow on from the 1952 R-Type, including the two-door Continental R Coupé, the Continental T with its shortened wheelbase and increased power capabilities, and the Continental GT that captured attention with its sleek profile, almost 200mph performance credentials and high-quality interior design.
The New Generation
Most recently, Bentley's family of Continental cars has been enhanced further with the release of the new Continental GT. The third-generation model of the range, the vehicle delivers those behind the wheel with an agile and thrilling drive every time due to the setup of its 6.0-litre W12 engine and 8-speed transmission system.