Classic Van Auction Talk

Tuesday 2 July 2019

1953 Bentley R-Type 4½-Litre Coupé - BONHAMS AUCTIONS Goodwood Festival of Speed Friday 5th July 2019


Goodwood Festival of Speed
Friday 5th July 2019
Goodwood Circuit, Chichester

1953 Bentley R-Type 4½-Litre Coupé
Coachwork by Abbott of Farnham
Registration no. RSL 310 (see text)
Chassis no. B135SP
*One of only 16 Abbott-bodied R-Types
*Known ownership history
*Present ownership since 2007
*Well maintained
*Registered in the Netherlands


  • As had been the case in pre-war days, Bentley's new R-Type could be ordered in chassis form for bodying by specialist coachbuilders, this example being the work of E D Abbott of Farnham, Surrey. After two prototypes had been completed, Abbott bodied 14 'production' cars, that offered here being the first. Of the remaining 13, one was fitted with automatic transmission and one was built with left-hand drive.

    Abbott's R-Type was first introduced to the motoring public at the 1952 Earls Court Motor Show, receiving enthusiastic reviews. Indeed, one journalist even went so far as to claim it was 'the best thing at the show', despite the fact that HJ Mulliner's officially sanctioned 'fastback' Continental was making its debut at the same venue!

    Although not designated a Continental, right-hand drive chassis 'B135SP' was supplied with the shallower Continental-type radiator, lower (28 degrees) steering column, and higher-than-standard (12/41) axle ratio that enabled it to make optimum use of the Abbott body's reduced weight and superior aerodynamics.

    Accompanying copy chassis cards record the supplying retailer as Jarvis & Sons Ltd of London SW19 and the first owner as R R Burton Esq of Warsash, Hampshire. The Bentley was first registered (as 'SPK 1') on 12th May 1953 to Mrs Ethel Mildred Burton, presumably the purchaser's wife. The car was back with Jarvis & Sons in September 1956 and remained in Hampshire passing to the second recored owner listed in the original logbook, Fenwick Storage & Transport of Totton, Hampshire, on 30th July 1965. Three further owners are listed, the last of whom, James Adrian MacHarg, acquired the Bentley on 4th July 1969. In January 1972, while the car was still owned by Mr MacHarg, the engine was dismantled, rebuilt, and converted to 'Continental' specification by marque specialists Brunt's of Silverdale using a second-hand high-compression cylinder head (bill on file). According to the old-style V5 registration document on file, Mr MacHarg kept the Bentley until 27th November 2000, by which time it had been reregistered 'RVX 21'. Its most recent UK registration was 'RSL 310'.

    The current vendor has owned the car since July 2007 and up to May 2019 had covered 4,362 miles in it. During the vendor's ownership, the Bentley has wanted for nothing, as evidenced by servicing and maintenance invoices on file totalling in excess of €125,000. Finished in two-tone blue with light grey leather interior, this rare and desirable coachbuilt Bentley R-Type comes complete with fitted tool kit, an original owner's manual, and a substantial file of history. The car is currently registered in the Netherlands.


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