Bentley Continental: Evolution Of An Icon

The Bentley Continental GT

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.

With a top speed of 120 mph it was the fastest four-seater in the world at the time of its launch. Many of the 208 examples produced were coachbuilt by Mulliner – a name that is still closely associated with Bentley to this day.


With just three strokes of the designer’s pen, the shape of the Continental comes to life – the striking power line, muscular rear haunches and swooping, fast roof line. These three elegant styling cues have remained a fundamental part of the Continental’s DNA over six decades.

Today’s Continental elegantly fulfils the same grand-touring brief as its forebear. With immense W12 power, a top speed of 206 mph and an unsurpassed ability to cross continents in total comfort, the Continental GT Speed is a truly extraordinary car.

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
R-Type Continental In 1952, cars that could hit a top speed of 115 mph were uncommon. Cars that could cruise at 100 mph with four occupants (and luggage) were unheard of - until the R Type Continental. Although only 208 were produced, the R Type Continental created a template for Bentley Grand Touring that lasted decades. It even inspired the design team working on the first Continental GT, fifty years later.

Reinventing Bentley

Reinventing Bentley

Pre-war, two coachbuilt specials had shown what a Bentley of the future might be. Both the ‘Embiricos’ Bentley and the Corniche featured streamlined bodies and were capable of cruising at high speeds on the fast roads of the continent. One man who took careful note of these one-off creations was the company’s chief projects engineer, Ivan Evernden. Although a lifelong Rolls-Royce employee, he was inspired to reinvent Bentley for the post-war world and distance it from its more staid cousin.