First shown in prototype form at the 1984 Geneva Show masquerading under the title Rolls-Royce Project 90, the Continental first made production in 1991 when the Continental R thundered into the pages of the enthusiast press. Constructed from the Turbo R platform, the Conti's 'official' launch was at the 1991 Geneva Show where it wowed the crowds, the Sultan of Brunei reportedly demanding the show car from Bentley's stand.
Designed by Ken Greenley and John Heffernan, the Continental R's shape disguised its massive bulk effectively and despite being hugely space inefficient, rapidly became an aspirational pick amongst the luxury set. In 1994, the Continental S performance model was launched, the turbocharged engine now fitted with an intercooler to boost power. The real barnstormer came in 1996 with the launch of the Continental T, a car with for some time the most torque of any production vehicle. In 1999 Mulliner editions of the R and the T were launched which offered more luxurious fittings and, in the case of the Continental T, stiffer suspension. Development work on the next generation Continental GT saw the 'old' Continental quietly pensioned off in 2003.