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

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5 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!

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