James Bond’s Bentley’ To Stir Crowds At Hampton Court Concours
The 1954 R-Type Continental Drophead Coupe is the car thought to have inspired author Ian Fleming to give his iconic British agent just such a model in his 1961 novel, Thunderball. Fleming, a keen petrolhead himself, is believed to have seen this Chapron coachbuilt Bentley in London while writing the novel, and subsequently had Bond taking his own fictional R-Type Continental coupe to H.J. Mulliner and converting it to “a convertible two-seater affair.”
The real-life car on display at Hampton Court was originally a Mulliner bodied fastback which was converted to a drophead coupe in 1956. Mulliner was approached at the time to perform the conversion but since the costs were deemed too high by its owner the project never progressed beyond the design phase, and French coachbuilder Henri Chapron was commissioned to carry out the work instead. Chapron’s final car didn’t fully resemble Mulliner’s elegant design work so the rear of the car was rebodied by a subsequent owner in 2005 to the original Mulliner specification, resulting in the stunning car on display.
Also competing within the Concours will be four other striking Bentleys – a 1925 Bentley 3 litre, a 1929 4 ½ litre, a 1930 4 ½ litre with coachwork by Vanden Plas, and a 1953 Mulliner Park Ward Saloon.
As part of the Crewe brand’s sponsorship of the event, Sunday September 7 will be officially known as ‘Bentley Sunday’, showcasing a broad range of Bentley models from 1925 to the present day. Highlights within Bentley’s display include a 1931 Bentley 8 litre Park Ward saloon – widely considered the greatest car ever produced by the company’s founder, W.O. Bentley – and the double Le Mans-winning Speed Six racer, known affectionately as Old No 1.