Bentley has built a one-off Conti GT 'Azure' inspired by the gorgeous 1953 R-Type | Top Gear
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Bentley has built a one-off Conti GT 'Azure' inspired by the gorgeous 1953 R-Type

New timer learns its tricks from the old timer. Old timer remains absolutely stunning

Published: 25 Jan 2023
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1953 was a special year for a number of reasons. Elizabeth was crowned Queen, Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tensing summited Everest and the automotive world said ‘hello’ to the Bentley R-Type Continental. In celebration of its 70th Birthday this year, the brand is showcasing a one-off handcrafted variant of the latest Conti GT.

Using Bentley’s own JAS 949 press fleet classic as inspiration, the Bentley Continental GT Azure has been handpainted in 'Old English White', accented by chrome to imitate the brightwork of the ‘50s icon.

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The interior has been crafted to mirror the original's features, featuring 'Cricket Ball' red leather upholstery and a beautifully contrasting open-pore burr walnut veneer to imitate the patinated finish of JAS 949 - there’s only three ultra-thin layers of lacquer to give a wax-like final appearance.

Naturally, in addition to splendid aethestics, the cabin bears all the Bentley traits including massage seats, decoupling anti-roll bars and driver assistance systems. The tech kit also includes a head-up display (HUD) and night vision, which uses infra-red to detect other road users after dark.

Bentley referred to the original R-Type Continental as the "modern magic carpet which annihilates great distances". Just so happened to be the fastest four-seater upon launch in 1952, too. This particular ivory-and-red-leather example was delivered to its first owner in Switzerland in December 1953. By the time production of the R-Type ended in 1955, only 208 examples had been made.

JAS 949 still features the original 4.6-litre engine, which in its day, pushed a remarkable 153bhp and averaged a top speed of 118.75mph. On slightly larger 22in wheels, the Continental GT Azure pushes a comparative 542bhp and top speed of 198mph, from its 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 TSI engine.

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Which one would you pick?

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