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Everyone knows the Aston Martin DB5 as the James Bond car. Aston Martin has built their name on it. However, in the Ian Flemming novel Thunderball, James Bond rolled even more luxurious than in the films. 007 preferred a much more elegant ride, the Bentley Type-R Continental. For some reason, the James Bond car that everyone forgot just happened to be the classiest. 

James Bond's calssiest car, the Bentley Type-R Continental
Bentley Type-R Continental | Ned Jackson Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

James Bond’s classiest car is not your average sports car

The Bentley Type-R Continental wasn’t exactly cutting edge at the time. According to Silodrome, the classiest James Bond car was developed in the early 1950’s – 10 years before the Ian Flemming novel – and though it wasn’t the newest flashiest car on the market, Fleming still understood James Bond’s car taste was better than just the newest or fastest thing. 

The idea behind the Bentley Type-R Continental was to be the ultimate ride for any British gentleman of the time. This early grand tourer was capable of ripping through continents as easily as it crosses cities, all draped in supple leather and finely wrought walnut trim. What could be better for the international man of mystery than that? 

What made this bond car so special? 

The Bentley Type-R Continental in black is the ultimate Bond car
Bentley Type-R Continental | Ned Jackson Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

It may not have been the fastest car in the world in 1961, but it was when it debuted in 1951. With a top speed of 100 mph, nothing on the road could touch it. It made 130 hp from its massive 4.6-liter straight-six. Only a handful of years later, the most famous of the Bond cars, the Aston Martin DB5, would stretch its top speed to a blistering 145 mph. 

Not only were these bad boys quick, but they were also very rare. Bentley only made 208 examples of what would come to be the classiest of the bond cars. 

Another thing that really separates the Type-R from so many other cars is that Bentley made them as powered rolling chassis. This meant that Bentley could sell them to coachbuilders to add a body and interior, adding to the limited, luxury aspect. In the novel, James Bond had his Type-R re-bodied from a wreck by the most common builders for these cars, British coachbuilders H.J. Mulliner. In fact, H.J. Mulliner worked closely with Roll-Royce to design the Type-R Continental. 

Bentley and Rolls-Royce is like peanut butter and Jelly 

walnut dash on James Bond's classiest car
Bentley Type-R Continental | Ned Jackson Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

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According to Silodrome, Rolls-Royce acquired Bentley in 1931. From this point forward, the two hyper-lux automakers have made several very similar cars that did little else than change the badging. The Bentley Type-R Continental is one example of this. The rare Continental version was developed by Rolls-Royce and H. J. Mulliner & Co. and Rolls-Royce Chief Project Engineer Ivan Evernden. 

This particular car has seen a fair bit of history itself. The Bentley was once wrecked and re-bodied; it had been restored a few times, had period upgrades, and recently crossed the Sotheby’s auction block. It sold for an astounding $1,435,000. 

As with anything else that has ever touched the massive James Bond Franchise, the Bentley Type-R Continental is a seriously sought-after item that has buyers throwing gobs of money around to get. I mean, if it was good enough for James Bond, it’s too good for the rest of us.