Bentley will bring down its velvet curtain on the Continental R coupé and Azure models this year as it tools up to build the new GT Continental.

Bentley will bring down its velvet curtain on the Continental R coupé and Azure models this year as it tools up its Crewe factory to build the new GT Continental.

Based on the current range, both the Continental R and Azure Final Series models will feature a series of performance-orientated additions to complement the extensive Mulliner specification.

Production is due to end mid-year, although the company's sales and marketing director, Adrian Hallmark, said a few bodyshells would be kept by to allow cars to be built after this date.

"There'll be a gap between production of the current two-door models ceasing and the new car arriving," Hallmark added. "But we will be able to accommodate special customers who can't wait for the new model."

The Continental R will feature sporting five-spoke wheels and high-performance Bentley branded brake calipers finished in bright red. Wide wheel arches accommodate the 18 x 9.5J wheels and tyres. The front bumper has been restyled and incorporates three meshed air intakes to match the front quarter panel wing vents.

For the Azure, five-spoke 18-inch wheels have been specified. A 'Mulliner' badge on each front wing pays discreet tribute to the coach built heritage of the two-door range. Inside, special attention has been paid to developing a unique Bentley Mulliner crafted interior that echoes the marque's sporting traditions.

The most distinctive feature is a stacked central instrument cluster that includes a turbo boost gauge, with chromed bezels and a red starter button. The sporting theme continues with a chromed and leather finished gear lever and drilled alloy pedals.

Diamond quilted sports seats and door inserts are complemented by a choice of either dark stained walnut veneer or black lacquered finish. In the former instance, the Bentley motif features on the waist rails to complete the highly detailed interior.

Both models, launched in their current forms in 1991 (Continental R) followed four years later by the Azure, are set to become collectors' items. Not least because the first officially named two-door Bentley Continental was announced in 1952.

At the time it was the fastest four-seat car available, a smooth and graceful machine with an assertive Bentley radiator and gently tapering lines toward the rear that spoke of good aerodynamics and even better aesthetics.

The name Continental returned to the Bentley stable in June 1984, with the Park Ward-Mulliner two-door coachwork retained from the Rolls-Royce Corniche models. At the Geneva motor show in 1991, more powerful Continentals using the Turbo R engine with the coupe's body appeared, and in 1994 the more powerful still Continental S was introduced in coupé form. These were the first motors since the R-Type to have unique-to-Bentley bodies.

The convertible Continental S followed again at Geneva in 1995, with the following year seeing the introduction of the 2 960 mm-wheelbase Continental T with more than 300 kW on tap.

Bentley has claimed that the Continental T is the world's most luxurious four-seat two-door coupe in current production. In addition, the Azure, fitted with electronic traction control and a viscous limited slip differential, was the most powerful four-seater convertible in the world, Bentley claimed.

It’s powered by a 6,75-litre V8 engine.

Original article from Car