Ever wonder why Bentley calls its coupe the Continental? We’ll give you a hint: it’s not because it comes with orange juice and a breakfast roll. It’s because the coupe was designed to traverse entire continents in speed and comfort. And it has been doing that for 63 years now.The fastest four-passenger vehicle of its day, the original Bentley R-Type Continental is considered to be the world’s first grand tourer. The Continental was based on the R-Type saloon, retaining its 4.6-liter inline-six but replacing the four-door bodywork with an altogether more elegant, dynamic form. The two-door bodywork was crafted by H.J. Mulliner & Co, whose name still adorns Bentley’s customization department, and whom parent Rolls-Royce favored over its usual Park Ward for its pioneering skills in lightweight construction.The result was a vehicle that could sweep along the highways constructed in post-war Europe with ease and grace at speeds up to 120 miles per hour. Of the 2,000+ R-Types that Bentley made in the early 1950s, only 208 were Continentals, making it one of the most sought-after Bentleys of all time – and one of the most beautiful. It’s that spirit which the company aims to carry forth with its namesake, the latest Continental GT Speed, which stands as the fastest production model Bentley has ever offered.
Of course it’s not just on the road where Bentley forged its reputation, but on the racetrack as well. That history stretches back to the famous Birkin Blower that won at Le Mans in 1930 straight through to the Continental GT3 that scored podium finishes at Paul Ricard and the Nürburgring this year. Watch the video above and scroll through the galleries below to see Bentleys old and new come together and demonstrate the heritage that they’re always crowing about in Crewe.