1954 Bentley R-Type Continental Fastback

To describe this magnificent Bentley R-type Continental, it is difficult to improve upon the typically perceptive and balanced analysis that George Daniels himself wrote of the car for his autobiography All in Good Time — Reflections of a Watchmaker, published in 2000:

“The ease with which the Continental will cover vast distances without discomfort to its occupants is now legendary. It is silent, smooth and spaciously comfortable. At the cool, thin-rimmed steering wheel, one looks along a long, slender bonnet reaching proudly into the distance. The controls are beautifully weighted so that one can sense the road and the car’s response to changes in surface and conditions. And, of course, it is very beautiful to behold.”

This car was ordered originally by the Taylor Woodrow construction company for founder Frank Taylor, finished in blue/gray (today, the car’s color looks very much like a Royal Air Force blue) with matching pale-blue interior with the desirable option of lightweight seats. It was first registered to Taylor Woodrow on March 12, 1954, with 5% discount on the price for being “frequent clients” of Rolls-Royce Ltd.
Frank Taylor moved operations to London in 1930, Taylor Woodrow becoming based in Southall, Middlesex, and was building 1,200–1,500 houses each year by the mid-1930s. The company, much enlarged, was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1935. Taylor Woodrow Construction became engaged in defense work, and for six years through World War II built military camps, airfields, factories and many components of the Normandy Landings’ Mulberry Harbor.

Immediately post-war, Taylor Woodrow began building internationally, and by the time the R-type Continental was purchased, the company’s projects involved sites in Africa, Australia, Canada and the Middle East. It was against this dynamic, profit-based background that this Continental was kept by Taylor Woodrow for less than a year before the company probably realized a useful profit by selling it to the car’s second owner, a Mr. J.B. Ashbrook, who took title to it on February 1, 1955.

The car remained with Mr. Ashbrook for the next 23 years until July 25, 1978, when it was acquired — via Stanley Sedgwick of Bentley Drivers Club fame — by George Daniels, a horologist and watchmaker.

This is a three-owner, low-mileage Bentley R-type Continental with the highly desirable specification of manual transmission and lightweight seats that, in its 58th year, is surely one of the finest examples of its illustrious and thoroughbred breed.

Paul Hardiman

Paul Hardiman - SCM Senior Auction Analyst

Paul is descended from engineers and horse thieves, so he naturally gravitated toward the old-car marketplace and still finds fascination in the simpler things in life: looking for spot-weld dimples under an E-type tail, or counting the head-studs on a supposed Mini-Cooper engine. His motoring heroes are Roger Clark, Burt Levy, Henry Royce and Smokey Yunick — and all he wants for next Christmas is an Alvis Stalwart complete with picnic table in the back and a lake big enough to play in.

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