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1953 Bentley 'R'

Story and History

1953 Bentley 'R' Type Continental Fastback

Chassis: BC 3C

Engine: BC 3C

Body: 5567

Registration: 108 YUF

Coachwork: H.J. Mulliner

Having been ordered in late 1952 or early 1953 through Mayfair Bentley dealers Messrs. H. A. Fox & Co of Burlington Gardens, chassis BC3C was completed on March 30th 1953, equipped with the 4 1/2 litre engine and manual gearbox. Of the 208 R-type Continental chassis built, BC 3C is one of only around 100 right-hand drive, manual gearbox cars wearing the supremely elegant Mulliner 'fastback' coachwork designed by John Blatchley - a delightful gentleman with whom I had the very great pleasure of taking lunch

The standard Continental two-door 'fastback' sports saloon body, number 5567, was completed by H.J. Mulliner in late July 1953, and road tested on 13th August. Painted in black with beige trim, BC3C � bearing the registration number LMW 623 � was delivered to its first owner, H. C. Coriat Esq, on 7th September 1953, whose wife Priscilla was formerly married to the legendary racing driver Earl Howe. Mr Coriat kept the car until late 1954, when ownership passed to Mr Guy Moreton, who in turn sold the car via Jack Barclay in April 1960 to a Mr Robert Baker.

Mr Baker enjoyed BC3C for over 15 years, before selling it to the eminent and pioneering classic car dealer Charles Howard, at the time the owner and proprietor of Coys of Kensington. Charles Howard was arguably the first classic car dealer to spot the desirability of R-type Continental Bentleys as important and fine motorcars, handling numerous examples since the early 1970s until his retirement in the late 1990s. He in turn sold the car via his American dealer colleague, Leon Shapiro in 1975, and after a brief period of ownership later that year, it passed in early 1976 to a Mr John Harwood of New York City for the sum of $8,000.

Mr Harwood ran the car as his (very stylish) daily driver for almost ten years before relocating to London in the mid 1980s, together with his Porsche Carrera GS Cabriolet and Jaguar XK140 DHC.

As may be expected when into her mid thirties BC3C was by this time looking rather tired, and Harwood decided to embark on a restoration, no doubt mindful of the considerable uplift in values of R-Type Continentals during his period of ownership � his $8,000 investment (around �5,000 at the time) had grown 12 or 15 times in the preceding 10 years.

He entrusted the car to leading Bentley specialists who removed the body and commenced the restoration, stripping and painting the car and partially re-trimming the interior. Considerable work was apparently also carried out to the engine and gearbox at the same time. For reasons that remain unclear, there seems to have been some sort of disagreement with the restorers, and the car was not fully re-assembled.

Due originally to his busy professional life, and later his advancing years and ill-health, Mr Harwood never got round to completing the restoration of

BC 3C (nor his other 2 cars), and it was carefully stored in its complete but unassembled condition, until he passed away

At this point his family decided that they would sell the Continental and that it would be prudent to do this when the car was re-assembled.

They organised the re-assembly with the help of world famous auctioneers, Coys of Kensington, who then sold BC3C on their behalf.

The buyer, an astute and experienced Continental owner, could see that having only had a single owner for the previous 34 years, BC3C was a most unusual 'R' Type and one not to be overlooked.

After a careful inspection prior to purchase showed the car to be in remarkably good order, if in need of correct finishing and detailing, he secured ownership.

It seemed appropriate to undertake whatever was necessary to bring the car to the fine condition it deserved, and indeed, boasts today - so over a two year period these works were undertaken and now BC3C runs, drives and operates as a correct 'R' Type should, whilst benefiting from fresh paint, new trim and re-varnished wood veneers too.

Resplendent in its original, and highly desirable, specification of black with biscuit hide, manual gearbox, lightweight bucket seats and rear wheel 'spats', BC 3C is now ready for its next owner to thoroughly enjoy.


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