- 2000 Bentley Continental R Mulliner
- One of only 63 right-hand-drive cars built
- Low-mileage example in Silver Pearl
- Exclusive 420bhp Grand Tourer
Bentley produced only 148 Continental R Mulliners, and the car now being offered for sale by the Classic Motor Hub is even more exclusive because it’s one of the 63 right-hand-drive examples.
Supplied new via the renowned HR Owen dealership in London, this car was first registered on 21 December 2000, and was finished in Silver Pearl with Black leather trim and Burr Walnut veneer. Optional extras included front-wing vents, veneered waistrail, drilled brake and throttle pedals, seat piping, and chrome instrument bezels. Even with a 10 percent discount for its first owner, the total cost was £204,039.
This Bentley Continental R Mulliner received its first service in July 2001 at Jack Barclay in Berkeley Square, London. In 2002 and 2003, it was cared for by Broughtons of Cheltenham, and the service history through the mid-2000s is meticulously recorded.
By 2017, the car had covered only 40,000 miles and was sold to its new owner by P&A Wood. The well-known marque specialist looked after the car into 2018, when it received a major service including new rear suspension gas springs and seals. The invoices included in the history file for this period testify to the quality of care that the Bentley has been treated to, and it is still showing only 45,000 miles.
All of the car’s build sheets are included in its paperwork, as is the owner’s handbook in its original slipcase. There are also copies of the Bentley Continental and Mulliner brochures.
The subsequent Continental GT model that was introduced in 2003 was built in far greater numbers and offered at a lower price. This Bentley Continental R Mulliner therefore marks the end of an era in terms of production at the Crewe factory. It presents beautifully and is hugely impressive to drive – exuding quality, luxury and performance in the very best tradition of this most British of marques.
When it was introduced at the 1991 Geneva Motor Show, the Bentley Continental R was intended to emphasise the company’s profile as a standalone performance brand. It was therefore the first Bentley since the 1960s not to share a body with a contemporary Rolls-Royce. Styled by John Heffernan, Ken Greenley and Graham Hull, it offered effortlessly fast motoring for four people and their luggage – a Grand Tourer in the finest sense.
The even more exclusive Bentley Continental R Mulliner was offered from 1999 onwards. HJ Mulliner had been founded in the late 1800s and specialised in automotive coachwork. It formed an early relationship with Rolls-Royce, which took over HJ Mulliner in 1959 and two years later merged it with Park Ward to create Mulliner Park Ward. Before its closure in 1991, this division built bodies for a number of Bentley and Rolls-Royce special models.
The Mulliner name was retained by Bentley when the latter was acquired by Volkswagen in 1998, and has since been used on limited-edition and bespoke models. In the case of the Continental R Mulliner, the intention was to ‘offer an intense experience for the keen driver’. It therefore used the more powerful engine from the short-wheelbase Continental T. This 6.75-litre turbocharged V8 kicked out 420bhp and an outrageous 650 lb ft of torque at 2200rpm.
Other modifications included uprated anti-roll bars, a steering rack that was 20 percent quicker than on the Continental R, and low-profile Pirelli P-Zero tyres on 18-inch alloy wheels. The ‘wide body’ exterior featured fully flared wings and wheelarches, and the bumpers featured wire mesh inserts to match the radiator grille. Even so, the brochure emphasised that the Bentley Continental R Mulliner was ‘a motor car which exudes singular intent without courting aggression’.
Performance was immense, the big GT surging to 60mph in 5.8 seconds and going on to a maximum speed of 170mph – all while cosseting the driver and passengers in extreme comfort and luxury. It was a combination of qualities that have long been synonymous with the marque, and the Bentley Continental R Mulliner has rightly become a modern classic.