Villa Erba

27 May 2017

1953 Bentley R-Type Continental Sports Saloon by H.J. Mulliner

  • Chassis no. BC20A
  • Engine no. BCA19


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  • Shown at the 1953 Geneva Salon
  • Factory right-hand drive with “seats and spats” and manual gearbox
  • Outfitted with numerous bespoke special-order items
  • Finished in its original colours and retains its original engine
  • £40,000 in recent mechanical work; ready to be driven and enjoyed


The quintessential gentleman’s touring car, many enthusiasts regard the Bentley R-Type Continental Sports Saloon as the most desirable post-war Bentley ever built, combining splendid performance with stately, yet elegant design and advanced aerodynamics. Chassis number BC20A falls into that earliest series of R-Type Continentals and is just the 19th R-Type Continental produced. Keen historians will note that although its chassis number would imply that it is the 20th car, Bentley skipped chassis number 13 for superstitious reasons—a tradition for the marque.

Build information sourced from the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club highlights this particular R-Type Continental’s fascinating specifications. Further to its highly desirable full “spats” over the rear wheels and lightweight adjustable seats, the car was also special-ordered with flashing-type turn indicators with amber glasses, double-filament headlamps with convex lenses, high-frequency horns with a muting switch, a speedometer in kilometres, and two fog lamps. Heavier front shock dampers and a special steering gear were specified in an effort to improve handling, and a 17-inch high-speed engine fan and unique radiator were ordered to improve cooling. A radio was also fitted; this was included in the R-Type Continental’s standard price, but in an effort to save weight, would only be installed at the owner’s request. Finally, it was finished in the quintessentially British colours of Dark Green over Beige.

The RREC records further note that the car was shown to prospective customers and the automotive press alike at the Geneva Salon in March of 1953. This took place shortly after the car was formally delivered to Louis Schneiter Esquire, a resident of Villa “Bois-Fleuri” in Coffet, Vaud, Switzerland. The car remained in Europe until 1 January 1960, at which point it was acquired by Lamont Haggarty and exported to the United States.

Later, BC20A was purchased by the late Anthony “Bud” Korteweg of River Edge, New Jersey. Korteweg was the founder of The Coachworks, a well-regarded Rolls-Royce and Bentley restoration facility with numerous awards in national competition to its name. Korteweg remains the only person to have won the Rolls-Royce Owners Club Best of Show award on three separate occasions. A Rolls-Royce and Bentley collector himself, it was completely restored under his ownership and was the final automobile restored for his personal use. It is believed that at this time, the car was fitted with a front bumper and rear seats from a later S-Type Bentley.

Acquired by its current custodian in 2014, the car returned to Europe where it was brought to the United Kingdom. In the fall of 2015, the car was sent to the Bentley specialists at The Chelsea Workshop in London. There, it received an extensive mechanical service to ensure it was fully prepared to be driven and enjoyed on a regular basis. Invoices on file for the service work amount to £40,000 in work and include work done to the brakes, suspension, engine, gearbox, and clutch.

Boasting not only factory “seats and spats” from new, retaining its original engine, and having been displayed at the Geneva Motor Show by Bentley itself, this lovely R-Type Continental certainly stands proud amongst its peers. With recent mechanical service work, it would be an ideal gentleman’s tourer, just as Bentley originally intended.





• Vettura esposta al Salone di Ginevra del 1953
• Vettura prodotta in allestimento RHD con l’accessorio “seats and spats” e cambio manuale
• Dotata di numerosi accessori realizzati su misura
• Verniciata nei colori originali e ancora con il suo primo motore
• 40,000 Sterline recentemente spese per lavori di meccanica; pronta per essere usata senza problemi

La vettura da turismo per eccellenza del vero gentiluomo, molti appassionati considerano la Bentley R-Type Continental Sports Saloon come la Bentley del dopoguerra più interessante, capace di unire le prestazioni ad una forma maestosa ed elegante ed aerodinamicamente avanzata. La vettura con numero di telaio BC20A, una delle prime vetture della prima serie, è la diciannovesima R-Type Continental prodotta. Gli appassionati più attenti avranno notato la discrepanza tra il numero di telaio, 20, ed il reale numero di produzione, 19, ma, per motivi scaramantici, come da tradizione della casa, il numero di telaio 13 non è stato assegnato.

La scheda di produzione fornita dal Rolls-Royce Enthusiast Club riporta gli straordinari dettagli costruttivi di questa specifica R-Type Continental. In aggiunta al rarissimo accessorio “seats and spats” che prevede la copertura delle ruote posteriori ed i sedili alleggeriti e regolabili, la macchina è stata ordinata completa anche degli indicatori di direzione con vetri ambrati, fari a lenti convesse con luci anabbaglianti a doppio filamento, fanfare ad alta frequenza con tasto commutatore, tachimetro in chilometri e due proiettori fendinebbia. Per migliorare il comportamento stradale, la vettura è inoltre stata dotata degli ammortizzatori anteriori più rigidi ed uno sterzo con demoltiplicazione ridotta mentre, per migliorare il raffreddamento del motore, era stata specificata una ventola, ad alta velocità, maggiorata a 17 inches (ca 43 centimetri). Installata anche la radio, fornita di serie sulle R-Type Continental ma, con l’idea di salvare peso, montata senza extra costo solo su richiesta del proprietario. Per concludere, la vettura è stata richiesta con la tipica colorazione inglese di verde scuro su beige.

L’archivio del RREC ci permette, inoltre, di sapere che la macchina, oltre ad essere la vettura esposta al Salone di Ginevra del Marzo del 1953, è stata mostrata ai potenziali clienti ed alla stampa specializzata. Il salone, è importante notare, si è svolto poco dopo che la vettura, almeno formalmente, era stata consegnata al primo proprietario, Louis Schneiter Esquire, abitante a Villa “Bois-Fleuri ” a Coffet, nel Cantone di Vaud, in Svizzera. La vettura è poi rimasta in Europa, fino al 1°Gennaio 1960, quando è stata acquistata dall’americano Lamont Haggarty ed esportata negli Stati Uniti.

Più tardi BC20A è stata acquistata dal compianto Anthony “Bud” Korteweg di River Edge, nel New Jersey. Korteweg è stato il fondatore di “The Coachworks”, un rinomato centro specializzato nel restauro di Rolls-Royce e Bentley, vincitore di numerosi premi in concorsi nazionali. Korteweg rimane ad oggi l'unica persona ad aver vinto il Best in Show assegnato dal Rolls-Royce Owners Club in tre diverse occasioni. Collezionista lui stesso di Rolls-Royce e Bentley ha tenuto questa macchina, totalmente restaurata durante la sua proprietà, come sua auto personale. Si ritiene che sia durante questo periodo che la macchina è stata equipaggiata con i paraurti anteriori ed i sedili posteriori di una successiva Bentley S-Type.

Acquistata dal suo attuale proprietario la macchina è tornata in Europa, nel Regno Unito, nel 2014. Nell'autunno del 2015, la vettura è stata inviata agli specialisti Bentley del Chelsea Workshop di Londra, dove è stata sottoposta ad una completa revisione della meccanica per garantirne la perfetta efficienza e la possibilità di godersela con un regolare utilizzo. Le fatture disponibili con l'importo e la descrizione dei lavori di manutenzione, riportano 40.000 Sterline di costi e di lavori svolti sui freni, le sospensioni, il motore, il cambio e la frizione.

Sono molteplici i fattori che rendono questa splendida R-Type Continental una vettura speciale, diversa dalle altre; dal raro accessorio “seats and spats”, all’avere ancora il suo motore originale all’essere stata esposta, dalla stessa Bentley, al Salone di Ginevra. Grazie ai recenti lavori di manutenzione meccanica, può considerarsi la perfetta vettura da turismo di un gentiluomo, esattamente come originariamente previsto da Bentley.

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