A Rough Guide to Bentley Identification

Crewe Bentleys - monocoque construction to 1998

T11965-1977Engine enlarged to 6.75 litres from 1970Corniche
T21977-1980Improved suspension and
cosmetic differences
Corniche, Camargue**
Mulsanne1980-1992Fuel injection from 1986Turbo (from '82), S (from '87)
Continental1984-1995Rebranded CornicheA few Turbo Continentals from '92
Turbo R1985-1997Improved roadholdingS, RS, RT, RL
Bentley 81984-1992An economy model  
Brooklands1992-1997non-turbo version of Turbo RLPT from 1996
Continental R1992-20032-door coupe T, SC
Azure1995-2003DHC variant of Continental R  

* Some dates may be open to interpretation where production was extended by variants
** One Camargue is believed to have been Bentley

Until 1998, Bentley remained part of Rolls Royce Motors. By 1998, RR/B was owned by Vickers, who then sold it in a complicated deal to BMW, but the name and Crewe factory were transferred to Volkswagen.
This page depicts examples of the cars made before the Volkswagen era. There is some overlap into the latter era, as the coupe models were continued past 1998.

T Type

There are few external differences between T1 and T2 Bentleys. The most obvious are an air dam at the front and a badge on the boot lid of the T2. Some T2s were fitted with wiper brushes to clean the headlamps, pivoted where the T1 had an air vent under the headlamps.

Because there was no longer a separate chassis, there were no traditionally coachbuilt cars. H J Mulliner and Park Ward had merged and been absorbed as a subsidiary of Rolls Royce and designed a slightly modified rear wing line for the T type, which was marketed in both RR and Bentley forms called the Corniche.


A T2 (left) contrasts with a rare Corniche Bentley DHC (right). The waisted rear wing line is not as clear in this photograph as in that of the later Continental (below).

I have no photograph of the single Bentley version of the Rolls Royce Camargue.
The Continental name was revived for a car very similar to the Corniche, but with a front air dam, alloy wheels and painted radiator shell, prior to introduction of the Continental R.


The Mulsanne replaced the T2. It wore a painted radiator shell and rectangular headlamp cluster (pictured below alongside a Turbo R).

Turbo R

Improvements to the suspension (the "R" indicates "roadholding") marked the introduction of the Turbo R
Twin circular headlamps replaced the Mulsanne's rectangular cluster and the front air dam was redesigned with triple vents. Painted radiator shells were standard, chrome ones were optional. Alloy wheels were standard, in a variety of different styles. Late models were enhanced with a laser-cut stainless steel matrix radiator grille. RT denoted a 400 bhp engine upgrade; RL denoted long wheelbase, which became the standard model in the last years of production. The variants are best identified by examining the boot badges.
"Mulliner" versions carry triangular vents in the front side-valances and a large, oval tailpipe in place of the standard twin circular ones.

The Bentley 8 was a normally-aspirated version, identified by a wire-mesh grille matrix instead of the vanes that were standard at the time.



Left: Turbo R and Mulsanne Turbo

Right: Continental R and Turbo RT

Continental R

The Continental R shares no body panels with the Turbo R, though the radiator shell may be interchangeable.
The most obvious differences are at the rear, where the 2-door coupe configuration allows a waisted rear wing line with scalloped top sides to the boot and steeply raked front and rear windscreens.


Left: an early (1992) car. The bonnet line is entirely different from that of the Turbo R.

Right: the rear of a 1993 car.

Left: The profile shows the subtle curves of the Continental R compared with the 4-door cars.

Right: a late model, with laser-cut radiator grille and wire-mesh vents below the headlamps. This is a Mulliner wide-body car, with flared rear wheel arches and side-vents behind the front wheels.

Some early Turbo R and Continental R cars have been retro-fitted with wire mesh or laser-cut grilles, under-lamp vents or both. A definitive opinion about a particular car's origins cannot be derived from cursory observation of these features.
Chrome radiator shells were an option. The Continental T was a slightly shorter version with an uprated engine.

Continental SC

The Continental SC (sedanca coupe) has a removable roof panel above the driver and front passenger. Only about 74 were made.


The Azure is a DHC version of the Continental R.

Back to Crewe Bentleys (chassis-based)
Next: Crewe Bentleys - 1998 onwards

Aug 2013, (corrected Apr 14)