R-Type Continental Races 2016 GT Speed in Charming Family Reunion



Bentley is bringing out the big icons in its back catalog recently for side-by-sides with the current 2016 Continental lineup.

Last week, we saw the GT3 and GT3-R road models rendezvous with their iconic 1930 forebearer: the Birkin Blower Le Mans racecar.

This week, we trot forward in time to the R-Type Continental of 1952 — the closest direct link to the current car in spirit and execution.

This fastback stunner is a magnificent machine for defining its buyer wants and needs, and exceeding all expectations with the eventual product.

What were these goals? True sit-up luxury and generous space for four, but world-beating pace as the fastest 2+2 available when it was launched in the early 1950s.  The ethos carries through to today very strongly — sedan-based coupes with so much power, you forget that they are hyperlux cruisers on light throttle.  With the new GT Speed, the evo of the series is almost at its peak. Vastly lighter handling feel, body control and cornering grip make the new GT Speed a far cry from the best-selling W12 model that led the current Bentley sales nirvana.  Those old gripes about its understeer and lack of purity on the roads?

They are completely academic.  As in, they do not seem accurate in a real-world context, where the car is absolutely brutal at crushing air, time and space.Continental GT Speed - Spectre(1)

Bentley Continental GT launch, Norway, June 2015 Trollstigen Road, Norway Photo: James Lipman / jameslipman.com

Bentley Continental GT launch, Norway, June 2015
Trollstigen Road, Norway
Photo: James Lipman / jameslipman.com

Behind the wheel, sheer twin-turbo 12-cylinder force will pull even the most Teutonic cheeks into a full riotous smile.

And while it does not, in fact, have the fleet-footed, RWD manners of an Aston Vanquish that car reviewers love… for buyers, there is nothing better than the GT Speed’s velvet sledgehammer of a personality.

The tie-in with the R-Type is very effective at tugging the heartstrings among loyalists, and is likely to help sell a few more 206-mph 2016 GT Speed models than they might have before.

The wider purpose of these past meetups?  To set the footing for a hard reset of the Conti GT for the 2018 model year. The car will go lower, leaner and meaner than ever before. A Panamera-based platform will take road feedback and handling balance to a new peak.

But for Flying B traditionalists, now is the time to strike to secure a true R-Type grandson: the 2016 GT Speed.

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BENTLEY CONTINENTAL: EVOLUTION OF AN ICON

Dec 16, 2015

  • New film features 16MY Continental GT Speed and R-Type Continental
  • Traces the DNA and design of the Continental from 1952 to present
  • 16MY GT Speed is the fastest production car ever made by Bentley
  • Watch the film now at youtube.com/bentleymotors

(Crewe, 16 December 2015) The Bentley Continental GT is one of the most iconic cars on the road today. The Continental name first entered the company’s lexicon in 1952 with the R-Type Continental – arguably the world’s first Grand Tourer.

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Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly expanding automotive news magazine.He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.