70th birthday of famous Heritage car celebrated with modern interpretation


Celebrating an Icon

Bentley Motors has handcrafted a unique and one-off Continental GT Azure, inspired by Bentley’s retained example of the iconic R-Type Continental, JAS 949. The new Continental GT is in honour of JAS 949’s 70th birthday, celebrating one of the important style icons in Bentley’s history. JAS 949 is one of only 208 examples of the R Type Continental ever built – but the car had a greater impact than the limited numbers suggest. The beautiful Bentleys old and new have been photographed at an equally spectacular London landmark that is itself a 21st century reinvention of a 1950s icon – Battersea Power Station in south London.

Quoted as ‘a modern magic carpet which annihilates great distances’ the R-Type Continental was the fastest four-seat luxury saloon in the world when launched in 1952. The three key design lines of the car – the power line from the front wheel, the rear haunch and the roofline – were the inspiration for the first generation Continental GT in 2003 and every Continental GT since. The latest Azure members of the Continental GT family continue to celebrate elegance and timeless design, directly descended from the R-Type Continental, while adding a focus on wellbeing behind the wheel.

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The Development of the original R-Type Continental

The brainchild of Chief Projects Engineer Ivan Evernden and Chief Stylist John Blatchley, the R-Type Continental set a template that continues to inspire Bentley designers.

Two pre-war coachbuilt specials, the ‘Embiricos’ Bentley and Corniche, had shown the advantages of improved aerodynamics. In the early 1950s, Ivan Evernden took inspiration from these one-off creations to create a sleek coupé based on the R Type Bentley saloon.

The first production model was delivered to its owner in June 1952 and by the time production ended in 1955, 208 R Type Continentals had been made. Of these, 193 were bodied by HJ Mulliner. Others included Park Ward (four dropheads and two coupés), Franay (five), Graber (three) and Farina (one).

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Re-creating a modern magic carpet

JAS 949 was delivered to its first owner, Dr Rowland Guenin of Switzerland, in December 1953. It was ordered in Ivory with a Red interior and a manual gearbox, a specification it retains today along with the original 4.6-litre engine.

To recreate the closest specification for the modern interpretation of JAS 949, a new Continental GT V8 Azure has been hand painted in Old English White – a faithful re-creation of the heritage paint colour that dates back to the 1950s. As per the muse, the Continental GT is fitted with bright chrome (including the matrix grille) While JAS949 rides on 16” wheels, the newer version runs on 22” hand-finished wheels, in a black and polished finish as per the original.

Inside the beautiful cabin, Cricket Ball leather can be seen throughout providing a cosseting, deep and rich heritage feel for the driver and passengers and mirroring the hide colour of JAS 949. To provide contrast and to preserve the design lines of the cabin, hand-applied piping in Beluga leather brings accents to the seats.

Discover more about the Continental GT Azure here.

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An iconic photography location for an iconic grand tourer

Battersea Power Station has been an iconic London landmark for over 90 years. Work began at the site in the late 1920s, and in 1955 the second half of the Power Station, Power Station B, and the landmark’s fourth and final chimney were completed, enabling the station to supply a fifth of London's electricity at its peak. Bentley Motors too had grown and developed in this timeframe - building from success at Le Mans in the 1920s, and with an established factory in Crewe, the 1950’s saw the introduction of the iconic R Type Continental.

Today, Battersea Power Station is a new neighbourhood for all with a vibrant mix of shops, bars, restaurants, leisure experiences, residences and public realm, with more to come.

The neighbourhood was the perfect place to photograph the new Continental GT Azure and JAS 949 together – with both the cars and the location reflecting the best of the 1950s and the present day.

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