REVIEW: Minichamps 1954 Bentley R-type Continental •

REVIEW: Minichamps 1954 Bentley R-type Continental

Words and photos courtesy of Wes Shakirov / StratosWRC


When planning to build the Continental back in the late 40s, Bentley envisioned a sporting tourer capable of impressive performance and luxury. The car ended up using aluminium extensively throughout its structure, resulting in acceleration and top speed figures that were unmatched by anything Bentley, or indeed anyone else, had build at the time. Speed is evident in the body shape as well, with a relatively steep window rake, a long swooping roofline, and a haunched stance. The streamlined appearance was thanks to some wind tunnel work with a quarter-size wooden buck. The bodies were hammered together by hand by H.J. Mulliner & Co. The car was powered by a 4.9L in-line 6 cylinder engine, allowing it to reach over 100 mph easily, a great feat at the time. Minichamps does a good job with Bentleys, but at over double the price of any of their other offerings, an investigation was in order to see if they’re worth it. So let’s get to it.

wes_Bentley R-type10

The model comes in one of those fancy Minichamps Bentley boxes, with the Bentley logo embossed on the underside of the top shell, so you can display it like that without removing the car from its cloth mantle. As I don’t have that kind of space inside my display cases, which I’m sure most of you can relate to, I promptly unscrewed it from its base to have a closer look. However, I have to say, the model looks much more regal and dignified when allowed to remain in the box.

wes_Bentley R-type3

I love the looks of this car. It looks like some upper class hooligan, unafraid of rolling up its sleeves and getting to work. I picked Black out of the three available colours. I thought Maroon was a bit too “senior citizen”, and White too “wedding rental” for me. It looks very distinguished in Black, with a hint of menacing purpose. All three colours come with the same Beige interior, which I think works best with the Black exterior.

Comparing the model to the pictures of the real car is largely a moot affair, as with coachbuilt bodies you’ll always have slight differences between individual cars. Having said that, I haven’t noticed any glaring errors or omissions. So far, so good, then. I was, however, surprised to see very obvious orange peel effect in the paint, which I wasn’t expecting at this price level. These things don’t bother me as much, but I know some other collectors would be bothered by that. The exterior detail is quite nice, with badges and decals all sharply executed, and the huge front grill is perforated.

wes_Bentley R-type15

On models like this, the engine is never the centerpiece, but it was nice to see that some thought was given to it too. It’s no CMC, and truth be told, at this price I expect better, but it’s not awful either. There is a photo-etched radiator at the front of the engine bay, some fine work on the air intake, and tiny prints on the engine block and in places where you wouldn’t think to look. Still all plastic, though. The piano hood opens on both sides, so you get another look at the engine, should you wish, though it certainly looks better on the left side.

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The interior is very handsome, with lots of carpeting throughout, and a wood grain effect on the dash and door trim. There is print on the sill denoting the name of the coachbuilder, and the doors even have a strip of soft material going across the lower half, which shows that they bothered. Not that you’d usually look there, but the ceiling is a sparse disappointment, with even the sun visors moulded in, as opposed to being separate units. For crying out loud, even Sunstar does fully functional sun visors. For three times the money, you’d think they’d include them here too.

wes_Bentley R-type27

Moving on to the trunk, we get more carpet, and a spare tire concealed by a carpeted compartment that looks like a giant block of cheese. You’d think that it’s just there for looks and there is no spare tire there, but I was VERY pleasantly surprised to see a little area where the spare tire is exposed. You would not see the spare unless you really looked behind this big round thing, so again, it shows that they bothered. There is even detailing on the underside of the boot cover. Also nice to see the only dog leg hignes you find are in the trunk, but I’m quite sure the real thing had them too. The underbody is not awfully detailed, but you get a good look at the functional suspension, and an exhaust performing some impressive geometry as it undulates along the undertray.

wes_Bentley R-type8

So is this model worth nearly $300? Objectively speaking, no, but where else are you going to find it? Like it or not, Minichamps is the only brand making them, and it is a somewhat inspired effort. The only reason it feels lazy in places is because of the price tugging at your logical strings, while the heart says “yes, I want it!” I was bothered by the price, yes, but I still enjoy the model, and you know what? I will buy more of them. The Bentley S2 is next on my list.

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wes_Bentley R-type12 wes_Bentley R-type13 wes_Bentley R-type14

wes_Bentley R-type16 wes_Bentley R-type17 wes_Bentley R-type18

wes_Bentley R-type19 wes_Bentley R-type20 wes_Bentley R-type21

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8 Responses to "REVIEW: Minichamps 1954 Bentley R-type Continental"

  1. myself says:

    Too many moldlines all over the engine bay, bumpers and interior for this price, and such a plasticky engine bay, PLUS paint issues you say. You must really like Bentleys. Thanks for sharing this I will never see one in person probably.

    • Wes Shakirov says:

      yeah it’s about Autoart Millenium level, but for 2.5 times the price. May have something to do with the Bentley license, I’m not even sure. But the finish should have been better.

      • JS Coleman says:

        Yes, there are a few issues for a car at this price point, but the overall effect is very impressive. It must look wonderful in your cabinet.

        Do you have the sedan S2 as well, by Minichamps?

        • Wes Shakirov says:

          I actually sold it last year. Was planning, at the time, to get the S2 as well though. But yes, it looked great in the cabinet. Just bothered me how much I paid for a model with detail that deserved maybe half the price.

          • JS Coleman says:

            Really? I was looking at getting this one not long ago – before deciding to go with either the upcoming MINICHAMPS Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud or the Bentley S2. I’m hoping they’re better…

  2. Well , I am now in the habit of reading the reviews here before I make the purchasing of any piece ,let alone a relatively expensive one ! I find that among the array of things being pointed out , or discussed, most are questions that have been banging around my head, or being pushed around by $$ dollar signs for a while. I am thoroughly appreciative at the lack of bias, the maturity and thoughtful consideration of what’s important in the dollar value against value given, and as always that very difficult to assess factor of whether this car or one like it is also being done by someone else to a greater or lesser degree, or for more or less money OR is the only game in town !! It reminds me of “Ricko ” 1/18 diecasts whom I loved and touted to anyone who liked unusual hard to find early Maserati’s and Lambo’s in 1/18th . No one made A6’s , 350’s and Lambo 3500’s, and there were other’s……Plus the paint was stellar , interiors well done with great dashboards (detailed gauges) carpeted to the trunks,unless authentically ribbed. all this came at a really reasonable price, much like the 30’s cars made by Yat Ming “Signature” All this palaver (babble) brings me specifically back to Minichamp’s Bentley’s . For years I looked at pics of the Bentley Blower and had a big desire to own it .Then 1 day I took the plunge . It arrived early and I was ecstatic I opened it and began to inspect what I bought for what I thought was a really reasonable $ 215.00 from a site (now priced at $ 259.00) I 1st noticed very cheap looking chrome grill , so much plastic in the build that I thought it might take flight (such was the lack of weight) The whole build seemed flimsy and very breakable. Needless to say, I was disappointed, and felt cheated SO when I was being attracted to the Minichamp Bentley R needless to say I was leary and wanted to hear someone , or many who would give me an honest and balanced view of what was for sale, and this is at least one place I can go and get what I need…….and feel sure of what I’m reading Much of what was said was not surprising. Some good and some expected. I thank you for the help !

  3. Wes , It’s several months since I bought My RType after leaving that small novel here. Something you, or someone said said stuck in my head about this Bentley was like a tough ,dressed in a Tuxedo (paraphrasing) ! The one I bought was in white, and I’ll never know how I failed to notice this , but while looking at a maroon one for sale I saw that it did have thuglike hunkered down stance that looked different from mine………THEN IT HIT ME !! both the black and maroon were treated to fender skirts , and NOT the white !! I don’t know the logic for this, but I would have wanted them on mine too . I really like the look of them……I’m considering an attempt at fabbing some . I’ll report how it goes…….

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