Ian Fleming’s Bentley R-Type Found!

1953 Bentley R-Type Continental Fastback

Say what you will about Peter Kumar and his company Gullwing Motor Cars, but this guy has been finding some absolutely incredible cars lately! As a matter of fact, he recently found, James Bond creator, Ian Fleming’s 1953 Bentley R-Type Continental Fastback hiding in a garage in Hollywood! Well technically it isn’t Fleming’s personal car, but one he special ordered for his friend Ivar Bryce, who was his inspiration for the character Felix Leiter in the Bond series. This beauty apparently went into storage shortly after winning it’s class at the 1971 Concours d’Elegance and that’s where it’s been ever since! You can find this once breathtaking Bentley here on Gullwing for an astronomical $1,495,000!

1953 Bentley R-Type Continental Interior

While this isn’t one of the Aston Martins used in the Bond films or even one of Fleming’s own personal cars, it’s still a very special machine! It’s a Grand Touring car through and through. The interior was adorned with leather and hard wood, but that doesn’t mean this machine is all comfort and no speed! As a matter of fact, this was the fastest production four-seater you could buy at the time! It offered a top speed of 120 mph and was fully capable of reaching and maintaining it over long distances. It’s easy to see why this car would appeal to Fleming and his spy friend Bryce!

1953 Bentley R-Type Continental Engine

Power comes from Bentley’s 4.6L inline 6, with power routed through a column shift 4 speed. Being a Continental means the engine was reworked slightly to offer more power than the standard R-Type. Upgrades included modified carbs, higher performance manifolds, higher compression pistons and a higher gear ratio. If you wanted to go fast in style and comfort, this was the car to get!

Bentley R-Type Continental Fastback

While the connection to Fleming is great, it’s really the car’s styling that captivates me. What a great looking car! I will admit though, I think I would feel like James Bond driving this high speed cruiser. It’s no Aston Martin, but between the styling and high performance engine, I think it would do just fine. So could you see yourself behind the wheel of this exquisite GT?

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Comments

  1. Joe Gotts

    I wonder how rare this is since its left hand drive?

    Nice!!!

    • MacVaugh

      43 left-hand drive examples produced for use abroad.

  2. DENIS

    Couple hundred outside my toy budget and I don’t give a RATZASS who owned it.

  3. John T

    You could have two or three Aston Martin DB6’s for that kind of money.

  4. Dolphin Member

    I’m not an expert in these R-Types, so I’ll take MacVaughn’s word for it that they made only 43 LHD versions. However many it was, it wasn’t many. And these were genuine 100+ MPH-all-day-long fastback saloons back in the day when most cars on the planet struggled to touch 80 or 90. They are the holy grail of vintage post-WW2 Bentleys.

    An R-Type in excellent condition is at least a $1 million car, so if this one can be confirmed to have any kind of Ian Fleming connection it should be worth that much even in this condition.

    If it were mine, and if I didn’t want to keep it, I would offer it through the best auction house on the planet. And even if that happened to be in the UK I think the LHD aspect wouldn’t hurt it. Maybe even make it more special. And since it came from California, so much the better.

  5. hhaleblian

    Kumarketing. As PT Barnum said…..

    • Wayne Thomas

      The thing about Kumar is this – network as best that you can to find your own barn finds. He is not going to stop and people will continue to go to him and pay what he is asking. If people did not give him money, Gullwing would go bankrupt.

  6. James

    Josh says,

    “It offered a top speed of 120 mph and was fully capable of reaching it and maintaing it over long distances.”

    Emm..No. But cars do get faster and faster depending who’s telling the tale(s).

    The Autocar (now known simply as Autocar since the merger with The Motor years ago) provided solid factual road tests. Their test Continental R in 1952 managed 0 – 50 mph in 10 seconds and attained the outstanding, for the time, top speed of 106 mph. Nevertheless this was very fast for the day. Cruising at 90 mph on continental (not UK) roads should have been possible.

    See Bonhams 2013 lot #330 for details from The Autocar’s road test:

    https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20929/lot/330/

    The Motor in their test of a 1954 B.7 Bentley 4.6 litre (4566cc) saloon with newly available automatic transmission attained a 0-50 time of 9.6 seconds, a 0-60 time of 13.25 seconds, a standing quarter in 19.30 seconds and a top speed of 101.7 mph. Fast for the day and per The Motor: “The first road test of a British car with a fully automatic gear-changing. Considerably improved performance.” Particularly improved was the handling “whereas on all the Mark VI models the degree of under-steer could be embarrassing, particularly on wet roads, with the B.7 a decisive but easily controlled breakaway at the back of the car can be readily induced.” Gee. Never read a similar line in an American test of a Cadillac. Different roads and driver skill levels may play a part.

    Oh, If only we’d purchased a Continental Type R when they were “inexpensive”.

  7. Peter Harrison

    Totalr-type continental production – 208 – 1.4 mill is too high for this car – prime examples are in the 1 mill – 1.25.
    Paint, brakes, fuel system – lot of work to get it back on road
    But beautiful none the less.

    • brakeservo

      I used to average returning two Bentleys a year to the road, the work isn’t as bad as you’d think. A complete brake job (as an ‘amateur’ it takes me about 40 hours and only $500 for parts) plus a fuel system clean out and thorough radiator flush will generally do it.

  8. brakeservo

    The irony with these cars and the prices they command is that for about 5% of the price, say $50,000 – $60,000 one can buy a standard four-door Bentley R Type and get 95% of the driving experience, particularly if you find one of the rare four-speed manual models! And the 4-doors will do 100+ mph all day long if in decent shape too – just ask the patrolman who stopped me!

    But I strongly recommend – DO NOT buy a $15,000 project from Gullwing, Beverly Hills Hair Club or anyone else. While a really good R Type is a great joy and very reliable and robust, a worn-out or rusty one is a terrible money pit. A proper engine rebuild will set you back $35,000 (and if you think you’re saving money by cutting corners, it will only come back and bite you harder in the wallet next time!) and proper new leather alone is at least a $10,000 additional investment so that $15,000 eBay bargain Bentley will ultimately cost you over $100,000 to put right if you do it all – and as things are today, will still only be worth $50,000 – $60,000 when done. (But I believe I still hold the world record price of $84,500 I got for a very nice original/unrestored 1952 R-Type I sold in 2013.)

    • Woodie Man

      wow. just wow. the cop I mean

    • Bill McCoskey

      The other part of the “value vs repair costs” equation is this fact:

      When dealing with Rolls-Royce & Bentley cars, unlike almost every other vehicle, a car with ultra low mileage is not preferable over a well maintained version with average mileage. These cars MUST have very regular maintenance, and that’s not cheap if you take the car to a shop that understands these cars. I’ll take a 75,000 mile, well-maintained R-type Bentley, over a 5,000 mile one that’s been in dry storage for 60 years.

      I’ve owned 3 Mk VI saloons, a ’54 R-type with automatic gearbox, and a ’52 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn. [Plus other Rolls-Royce & Bentley cars, 1932 to 1985.]

  9. Ross W. Lovell

    Greetings All,

    Bentley built more than a few of these with aluminum coach work. Not sure if the had the same weight gain as he alloy 120’s did by Jaguar. Not much weight savings due to the extra reinforcement needed for the aluminum body.

  10. Stephen

    One of the most memorable drives of my life involved a standard bodied ’54 R-type on about fifty miles of South Carolina two-lane sometime in 1987 or 1988. It was an astoundingly capable car for its era, and it responded very well to being hustled.

    • brakeservo

      I’ve done track days in my Bentleys . . . when I’m not being chased by the police!

      • Woodie Man

        that must have had some roll in the corners!

  11. brakeservo

    In many cases the weight savings of aluminium over steel is off-set by the added weight of the ash framing the alloy panels require. Personally I think the standard steel body is so darn handsome anyway it was very hard for the coachbuilders to actually improve on it’s appearance. Plus the steel body was stronger, doors didn’t sag and if you crash it even today new sheet metal panels are available! The aluminium cars require a panel beater . . . hard to find and expensive today too!

  12. Mark E

    In the present condition, I’d bet you could put twice the asking price into restoring it. No thanks. And though my opinion of Gullwing stands, when I found out Kumar’s name a few years back, I could only think of a certain movie… (LOL)

    • Woodie Man

      +1

  13. Jason Houston

    What a very handsome foreign car. The rear plate indicates it was registered as late as 1975, judging by the stickers.

  14. junkman Member

    Yep there most certainly are some unbelievable cars hiding in the Hollywood Hills. Not enough to make me want to go there and find them though. Nice Bentley, very sharp lines. Maybe I’ll stumble onto something for around 1/100th the price here in New England and skip the Hollywood types.

    • brakeservo

      Cool cars can be found ANYWHERE! I once found the prototype Bentley / Radford Countryman in a warehouse along the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon.

    • Jason Houston

      Southern California is STILL a gold mine of hidden cars. Two places – San Fernando Valley and Yucaipa – are rife with cars stashed away in the 1960’s that are still waiting to see the light of day. As recently as ten years ago we found a 1936 Ford Fordor that was abandoned in the early 50’s and a 1940 Ford 1-ton that was abandoned about the same time, not far from each other.

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