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Car of the Month - October 2004
Bentley Continental R , 1997, #SCBZB15C0 WCH63076
Coupé by Mulliner Park Ward

When many years ago a company director had been asked what was the speed of the manufacturer’s production line, his reply was: “I seem to remember I saw it move last week.” Conditions were different in the 90ies, of course, but the production process still reflected the traditional method of the Bentley motor car taking shape by passing from one skilled craftsman to the next, each one painstakingly adding components to finish a perfect product.

This Bentley Continental R was ready for delivery towards the end of 1997 – hence it was given a model year 1998 chassis number. It is a fine example of a car tailored exactly to a customer’s specification as regards interior and exterior enhancements. Not only a unique driver’s seat – exactly adjusted to the driver’s ergonomic – had been asked for. A desire for a wooden steering wheel had been expressed, too. Those had been offered by the manufacturer during the 70ies for early Corniche and a few found their way into some Camargue motor cars, too (wooden steering wheels during that era were supplied by NARDI of Turin/Italy). The rather stringent safety regulations of the 90ies made it a real challenge to comply with the client’s order – though there was never any question if the job was done but only how the job could be done. This was the first ever Continental R with a wooden steering wheel, though it is true to state that today several more are sporting one, because more orders followed.

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A second specification was on “safety-sensitive” components, too. Chromed light alloy wheels wouldn’t have been standard but were an option. However in this case the centre “B”-motif was to be encircled by a bronze ring – and to deal with such a requirement made it mandatory to contact the supplier of these light alloy wheels and place a special order. – Compared to that the tasks of substituting the wire mesh insets to the front spoiler by chromed insets wasn’t difficult. And executing certain mechanical enhancements as per the discerning client’s specification was almost “business as usual”.

Perhaps at a quick glance this coupé appears to be but another Bentley Continental R - though by careful inspection it will be found this is a perfect example of the truth in the statement: “Bentley drivers, like Bentley engineers, have always found the courage to be different".

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