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One-Off Bentley Continental GT Celebrates Iconic R-Type Continental's 70th Anniversary

Bentley has showcased its latest one-off, which comes as a highly-personalized Continental GT Azure. Since the Continental GT is a production model, and so is the Azure line that is available for it, why is this one special? Well, it celebrates the 70th anniversary of another special car, and it does so with class.
Bentley's one-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R-Type Continental JAS 949 14 photos
Bentley's one-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R-Type Continental JAS 949Bentley's one-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R-Type Continental JAS 949Bentley's one-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R-Type Continental JAS 949Bentley's one-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R-Type Continental JAS 949Bentley's one-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R-Type Continental JAS 949Bentley's one-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R-Type Continental JAS 949Bentley's one-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R-Type Continental JAS 949Bentley's one-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R-Type Continental JAS 949Bentley's one-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R-Type Continental JAS 949Bentley's one-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R-Type Continental JAS 949Bentley's one-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R-Type Continental JAS 949Bentley's one-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R-Type Continental JAS 949Bentley's one-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R-Type Continental JAS 949
Seven decades ago, Bentley was busy building the R-Type Continental, which only saw 208 units, including the prototype. One of those models had a license plate that wrote JAS 949, and it came with a unique specification. We simply cannot grasp if it was fashionable back then, but it does look cool and classy when looking at it right now.

In its day, the R-Type Continental was the fastest four-seat luxury saloon in the world, and today's Continental GT is no slouch, either. This model was also an inspiration for the modern Continental GT, at least in three points.

Bentley designed the 2003 Continental with the power line from the front wheel inspired by the one on the R-Type, as well as the rear haunch and the roofline from the historic model. All following Continental GT models have mimicked the idea, so the designer of the original R-Type Continental was quite a visionary in their time.

Can you imagine designing something that remains relevant and inspirational 50 or even 70 years later? The work was done by John Blatchley with H.J. Mulliner, a coachbuilder led by Ivan Evernden, Rolls-Royce's Chief Project Engineer.

Bentley's one\-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R\-Type Continental JAS 949
The Continental was the performance version of the R-Type, which was made in just over 2300 units, so the Continental of the day was the one to get for those wealthy enough to even consider such a purchase in the first decade after the conclusion of World War II.

Well, thanks to Bentley's Mulliner Personal Commissioning Guide, someone decided to honor that model that was made 70 years ago with a brand-new Bentley Continental GT Azure that has a specification that mimics the look and personalization of the old JAS 949. Initially, this example was delivered in Switzerland in December 1953, and it was finished in Ivory with a Red interior.

The two models were photographed together at the Battersea Power Station, which is in South London, and it can be considered an iconic location of the city, as it has been in the same place for 90 years, despite laying dormant for almost three decades, but then revived with the help of a foreign consortium.

Both models are part of the Bentley fleet now, as the new one is a press car, while the old one is part of the Heritage Collection, which is held and maintained by the recently inaugurated Heritage Garage in the firm's carbon-neutral campus in Crewe.

Bentley's one\-off Continental GT Azure inspired by 1953 R\-Type Continental JAS 949
The British marque managed to track down the vehicle back in 2001, bought it back, and sympathetically preserved its patina, as well as its distinctive elements, such as its original 4.6-liter engine and its manual gearbox, among others. Just 43 out of 208 R-Type Continentals came with left-hand drive, but this example is not one of those. The vehicle is driven on the road regularly and meticulously maintained to ensure preserving its condition for as long as possible.

The new Continental GT Azure was finished in Old English White, which is a faithful re-creation of the heritage paint color that dated back from the 1950s without the era-specific chemicals. The 22-inch alloys are significantly larger than the 16-inch ones on the original car, but both share the black and polished finish, done by hand, of course.

On the inside, the modern Continental GT was fitted with Cricket Ball leather, as Bentley calls it, and it is in a shade that mimics the one on the original JAS 949. The firm installed the absolute best open-pore veneer in its stock with three ultra-thin layers of lacquer. The layers add up to just 0.1 mm (0.004 inches) of thickness, which is incredibly thin.

If you needed an example of the artisanship that the people at Bentley are capable of, the layers in question are applied by hand, sanded between applications, and ensuring that the lacquer sticks to the natural grooves in the wood, not to a thick layer of itself. The resulting finish is closer to wax than lacquer, and it highlights the natural look of the wood species used here.

The British marque still offers cross banding inlays for its interiors, and this new Continental GT Azure gets Australian straight grain veneer with boxwood inlay that is finished with a Bentley Mulliner overlay in rich Gold to make it shine.

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