1999 Bentley Azure Mulliner Wide Body Convertible

The return of the silent sports car…

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A Bentley Azure is among the grandest of the open tourers. It debuted in 1995 at the Geneva Motor Show. This capacious land yacht was intended to convey a sense of presence. It cossets four adults in the lap of luxury…open-air luxury in the Bentley grand touring tradition. The Azure was built from 1995 until 2003.

The Bentley Azure was a collaboration between Bentley and Pininfarina of Italy transforming the Bentley Continental “R” hardtop coupe into an elegant four-seat convertible. This rare Bentley was quite pricey for its day. The base convertible started at $347,645 which was $36,355 more than a Continental “R” for the 1995 model. This elegant machine was available with the Mulliner Wide Body Specification from 1999 until 2002.

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Converting a coupe to a convertible requires special modification to offset harmonic resonance which can destroy a vehicle from vibration. The vehicle must also receive a lower center of gravity to prevent roll-over. The Bentley Azure received extensive chassis modification for reinforcement and rigidity. The basis of the luxurious Azure begins its production life as a Bentley Continental “R” which was a large ultra-exclusive hardtop coupe.

It was built from 1991 until 2003. This was the first Bentley to feature bodywork not shared with Rolls Royce. The Continental “R” series was the fastest, most expensive, and most powerful Bentley of its day. It was also the most expensive production car in the world. To give you an idea how large this coupe is…the Continental “R” is 4” longer than a 2013 Mercedes-Benz S-Class long wheelbase saloon. The Continental “R” was cleverly designed to conceal its humongous stature most attractively.

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The bodyshell and soft top were hand-crafted in Italy at the Pininfarina facility from parts supplied by Bentley. Final hand-finishing was completed at the Crewe facility in the UK. The craft of coach building acquired the status of art with the Azure transformation built totally by hand with loving care. The skills for this endeavor are not learned in one year…Pininfarina is an exemplary coach crafter with success spanning decades. Pininfarina designed the Rolls Royce Camargue.

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From 1999 to production end, the Azure was available in Mulliner trim which added bespoke specifications and additional equipment for further customization during the car’s build. The Mulliner Wide Body Specification was the ultimate Azure.

It had a sticker price exceeding $416,000. The Mulliner Specification is the absolute epitome of luxury and elegance escalated to a work of automotive art. Every Mulliner masterpiece is a one of a kind creation.

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Only 154 Mulliner Wide Body Azure convertibles were built from 1999 through 2002. The Wide Body Specification added an aggressive yet elegant ‘attitude’ to the Azure. Open-air touring was never more exclusive than the Bentley Azure Mulliner Wide Body.

The 1999 Azure Mulliner rode upon a long 120.5” wheelbase, had the luxury length of 210.3” and a wide 73.9” stance. The Mulliner model range was introduced at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show. The Azure Mulliner was equipped with the most powerful engine as the Bentley “T” series.

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Hand stitched Connolly leather and rare hand rubbed veneers 

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Bentley Continental “T”

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The Bentley Azure Mulliner as with all Bentleys had a zest for performance that yearned for a nice leafy run on the open road. “Grace under pressure” was the Bentley forte. High revs at low rpm held true for the 1999 Azure Mulliner.

The Rolls Royce 6.75 litre V8 engine powered this elegant machine. This all-alloy V8 was equipped with a Zytek EMS3 engine management system. The engine was fitted with a Garrett AiResearch T048 turbocharger (0.8 bar) and intercooler.

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The 6.75 litre V8 produced 420 hp @ 4,000 rpm with 875 Nm of peak torque @ 2,200 rpm. Performance was rated as 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds, 0-100 mph in 16.4 seconds with a top speed of 157 mph. The Bentley Azure Mulliner did the ¼ mile @ 95 mph in 14.7 seconds. Despite its Goliath presence, it is mighty quick!

The Mulliner Specification tuned the engine for higher output than the standard Bentley set-up. The Zytek EMS3 improved engine management system refined throttle response, improved fuel economy, and digitally controlled turbo over-boost. This sophisticated system synthesized all systems for optimum performance and silky-smooth overall operation.

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People always admire a Bentley as it silently glides by. They wonder who is inside and what have they done to be ensconced within such a luxurious ambiance. Bentley is the benchmark of excellence in the industry.

Old-fashioned quality, luxury, and spirited performance are all Bentley hallmarks. Bentley sports cars had earned themselves a reputation for fine engineering in the 1920s. And…lest we forget, the famous Bentley Boys and the famous four consecutive victories in the grueling LeMans 24-hour endurance races of 1927, 1928, 1929, & 1930.

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Never treat a Bentley timidly. Drive it over the roughest pavement that you may encounter and “Big Ben” takes it in stride completely impervious to boulevard travel intrusion. The Bentley is the return of the ‘silent sports car’.

Today’s Bentley combines exhilarating performance with refinement and supreme comfort. A Bentley is for those who appreciate the very finest in British engineering and hand-craftsmanship. After all, a Bentley was really a Rolls Royce incognito…

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2014 Bentley Continental GTC 6.0 litre W12

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Continental GTC W12 photos courtesy Bentley UK Media

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Think of the Bentley Azure Mulliner Wide Body as something rich and rare. Only a chosen few will ever savor its exemplary performance first hand. From the spectator’s view…it’s a serendipitous surprise.

The Azure was a custom coach crafted collaboration between Bentley  and Pininfarina of Italy. Just the rarity alone of its unique transformation from the Continental “R” hardtop coupe…to the ultra-exclusive Azure convertible made it the pinnacle of Bentley luxury.

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 Bentley Continental “R”

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Add the bespoke supremacy of the illustrious Mulliner Wide Body Specification and the Azure becomes a one of a kind masterpiece. Bentley comes from a long line of distinguished motorcars of performance and prestige.

Certain Bentley models will appreciate more rapidly and exceed the classic Rolls Royce because they were so busy building the “Spirit of Ecstasy” that they forgot all about ‘ole “Big Ben”…so his small production numbers will trump the opponent’s ace. As in the days when the Bentley legend was first building momentum, they still hold that same excellence as the norm…

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Continental GTC W12 is the contemporary ultimate open tourer

7 Responses to “1999 Bentley Azure Mulliner Wide Body Convertible”

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  3. jim purvis Says:

    I have recently secured a 2000 Bentley Wide-Body Azure……….and it’s IS the finest auto I have ever had in the “stable”!
    So much yet to learn…….but every day with the car is a “date day” – never knowing what I may learn about “her”!
    An amazing auto………..

    • That is GREAT Jim!! You do realize what a rare gem you have don’t you? Treat her as you would with any lady with respect! Make sure to have a “beater” to use daily, then too…make sure to drive the Azure. Like its Rolls Royce counterpart, those cars require use to keep them in shape. NEVER let it sit, give it a good work out then garage it. AND most important…find a mechanic that specializes with Rolls Royce and Bentley motorcars…do not take it to Walmart for a tune up! (Just kidding, I know you wouldn’t have the balls to!) I have seen it happen too many times, people find ultra-luxury cars like what you have and then they either let too many people under the hood trying to save money or they take it to an establishment that doesn’t normally repair fine automobiles such as what you have…to only have to go to the dealer to un-do what a back alley grease monkey did to make it right, ending up spending more than if you had gone to a certified mechanic in the first place. I have a friend now that has a very expensive “driveway ornament” because he wouldn’t listen to me and take his Silver Cloud II to a reputable certified mechanic! He cannot look me in the eye when we talk about it! I know how much it takes to keep a Rolls Royce and Bentley in tune. I have a Silver Cloud III, a Silver Wraith II, a Phantom Series II, and a Bentley Arnage “R” and the maintenance is sky high, but it’s my pleasure and hobby. Besides, I LOVE to drive to a special occasion to get admiring glances as well as the look of sheer envy from the other guys when I arrive in one of my stable! I use a 2002 Cadillac DeVille as the daily driver. Good luck with your investment, it will appreciate like you will not believe if you keep up the maintenance and keep it looking showroom new!

      • Jim Purvis Says:

        “Big B” is one of six “lesser” cars……..so it’s certainly not a daily driver. But no garage queen, either. Thanks for your thoughts and advise. Sounds like I’m not the only “crazy” with more cars than owned garages!

  4. Bjarne Kvarnstrom Says:

    I own a 2001 Bentley Azure. The car now (October 2017) has less than 20,000 miles on the odometer. I have started to call it the “can” as all sorts of quality issues arise. The front seats which are carried over from BMW 850 are stuck in one position because the drive wires shrink over time and no longer engage the gears that move the seats. The air cond , a japanese unit, has so much debris inside from the Bentley factory that it clogged an internal filter and stopped operating. Left window regulator welds fractured, leaving window stuck in open position with a lot of ruckus. Right window regulator secondary arm bearing fractured, leaving a half inch open space for rain or car wash water to flood the interior. I was quoted $ 2800 for one window regulator. Most regulators cost around $35 to 300 for other cars, including BMW AND Mercedes. The 2 latches above the windshield for the convertible hood leak like sieve because of broken seals, a well known problem from Mercedes 500 SL, from which Bentley bought the whole hood hydraulic. Expect all cylinders and hoses to need replacement down the road. I am filling up the reservoir regularly even after repacing the latches as more, hidden leaks obviously exist. One of my wheel caps fell off unbeknownst to me until a neighbor told me. A plastic lock had broken. In short, it is good to have a pile of money when you buy this can, but more important to save for repairing it when things go wrong. The all plastic remote control works if you squeeze just the right way…One nice thing: the paint is still gorgeus ( a custom silver job). My wife’s Lexus has 3 times the milage, cost 1/8 of my car and has had zero problems or repair. However, I see Lexuses everywhere everyday but have only seen 2 Azure here in car crazy Southern California Over the last 8 years. Wonder why?

  5. Hello Bjarne! Where on earth did you purchase such a travesty of luck? Sounds like you have a recluse from the scrap heap. These beautiful cars can become instant junk if not properly cared for. How old was this car when you purchased it? I had one for nearly 10 years without any issues. I sold it for more than I paid for it. I still own an Arnage “R” (2002) and the Arnage “T” (2004) I sold 2 years ago which had virtually no issues. The ’02 Arnage was purchased at 2 years old and still runs like a scalded cat. It had ‘expensive’ brake issues but with all things this expensive…one must take the bitter with the sweet so to speak. It is a masterful motorcar and worth every penny.

    The Bentley is secretly a Rolls Royce sporting version. I also own a Sliver Cloud III, a Silver Wraith II, and a Phantom. I have never had issues with my Corniche IV, its power hood doesn’t leak nor have there ever been any cosmetic issues. All cars are driven and never allowed it ‘sit’ any length of time and they are never driven on the road in winter months which require the roads to be treated with calcium chloride. They still look showroom new also. I am sorry you had such bum luck with your Azure. It is a rare car but it is one that must be treated with ‘kid gloves’ as they will become a money pit if you get one that has been abused. You NEVER buy a high-end car like these used without seeing the maintenance schedule with all receipts. Also, I advise taking the Rolls or Bentley to a certified mechanic BEFORE you buy it. These are very very very expensive automobiles which require proper care and handling.

    Here’s another bit of advice which may sound a little crass. When all else fails and the car continues to break the bank…sell it as parts piece by piece. It is actually worth more in parts than it is as an entire unit. You can make a fortune alone on the cosmetics and body parts. People restore and repair these all of the time. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how much you will make. It is sad to watch it being devoured but it beats the cost of a complete restoration. I did this twice as an experiment and I bought another Rolls Royce with the profits I made$$! Like any motor vehicle, there are ‘junk’ Bentley and Rolls Royce models all over the world and one must be careful not to “fall into a money pit.” There are 2 things I strive for the novice: if you are looking to buy one of these rolling masterpieces take it to a certified technician BEFORE the purchase and pay to have it appraised. (also look online for the cost of brakes, exhaust systems, and suspension parts…this will give you an idea of the maintenance schedules and costs involved) Last but not least, read reviews for the car you are looking to purchase.

    ALL Rolls Royce and Bentleys have idiosyncratic behavior just like any car…only with these, you can purchase another car for the cost of just a few repairs. It’s best to buy one brand spanking new and follow the maintenance schedule to the “T” this way you know your car. As you may see by now, everything on the car is very expensive. A Rolls Royce or Bentley is a beauty to behold…but expensive to maintain from oil changes to basic maintenance schedules which MUST be followed or negative consequences will follow. I caution buyers to look before they leap, it’s a different league – an expensive league – when one moves to a Rolls or Bentley…

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