2003 Bentley Arnage T Mulliner

“Big Ben” rules…

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The Bentley Arnage will be known in automotive history as the “Hatfield vs the McCoy” edition. This was the end of an era…the last traditional Bentley that would share a bodyshell with Rolls Royce. There was a vicious blood battle between Bayerische Motoren Werke, AG and Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft over the Grande Marque and its rights. BMW was the bully when they used the 4.4 litre BMW V8 as hostage in this fierce war.

In the aftermath, Bentley had to revert to the previous dinosaur making a few adjustments…and they landed on their feet, gracefully too if I may add! And to think…these are auto manufacturers of culture and engineering prowess acting as recalcitrant children!

Well…after they had slapped each other beyond recognition and then spent a few days in the time-out room, they came to an agreement. While working subtle refinement, Volkswagen created the world’s fastest production luxury saloon with not one but two turbochargers to boot…and Rolls Royce was no longer throwing the Bentley shade…

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The 2003 Bentley Arnage T Mulliner Twin-turbo is a rare and magnificent example of the classic Flagship saloon. It was more expensive and more powerful than its siblings the Arnage Green Label and the Arnage Red Label saloons. The Bentley Arnage was a large front engine rear drive luxury car with the legs of a sports car. An Arnage was the ultimate grand tourer…Mulliner refined it to superlative.

The magic Mulliner touch transforms a work of art into a priceless work of art. HJ Mulliner/Park Ward Coachbuilders was purchased by Rolls Royce in 1959. Mulliner is now an in-house design studio for Bentley Motors UK exclusively. The Bentley Arnage T with the Mulliner Driving Specification was the absolute epitome of elegance, opulence, and performance…

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It gained the reputation of the fastest road-going Bentley saloon. For a while, it was the most potently powerful and the fastest four-door saloon in the world. The Grande Marque was renowned for high-revs at low rpm.

During the 1920s, the famous Bentley Boys were virtually blowing the doors off the competition at the LeMans 24 hour endurance races to the tune of five wins…three of them in succession. The Arnage was named after a famous racing turn at LeMans.

To prove reliability, durability, and speed…Woolf Barnato, one of the Bentley Boys and CEO of Bentley, beat “Le Train Bleu” or the Blue Train, from Cannes to Calais and was actually sitting in a chair at his favorite club on exclusive St. James Street in London, England when the train arrived in France…

Blue Train

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The Bentley Arnage was one of the finest to come off the assembly line at Crewe. The Arnage was built from 1998 until 2009. It was already luxurious beyond belief with hand stitched leather by Connolly Brothers, hand-rubbed veneers that had a mirror-matched shine…right down to the Wilton hand-tufted carpets with lamb’s wool rugs. But add the dramatic Mulliner Specification and the Arnage was escalated to new heights in exclusivity and supremacy.

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The highly distinctive Mulliner Specification for the 2003 Arnage T included veneered wood tables with machine turned inserts for rear seat passengers. The aluminium inserts were also applied to the fascia and waist rails. Mulliner Specifications were highly bespoke editions with no two vehicles exactly alike…ever. A signature Mulliner feature was the exclusive hand-stitched tailored diamond quilting applied to seat cushions and door panels.

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The diamond quilting and machine turned aluminium added a sporting attitude to this elegant grand touring saloon. The Mulliner Specification added special 19” 5-spoke titanium bolted alloy wheels. Mulliner Specifications created the ultimate Bentley motorcars with exclusivity and supremacy shared with no other car. A Bentley Mulliner may be constructed to be as unique as its owner. To prove that the Arnage T Mulliner is a driver’s car, its brake and accelerator pedals are made of alloy. The sunroof is the crowning attribute of the Arnage T Mulliner Twin-turbo saloon.

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Mulliner demonstrated the fact that the Arnage T could be as sporting as it was luxurious…and in the grand touring tradition. The best part of today’s Bentley…is the fact it is out from under the imperious shadow of the Rolls Royce. Bentley is its own entity again, no longer the bastard at the Rolls Royce family reunion. They are fierce competitors fighting tooth and nail running the ultra-luxury race neck to neck…with neither posting the white flag…

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Bentley re-engineered the old faithful 6.75 litre Rolls Royce V8. It was bored out to 6.8 litres and used the Bosch Motronic ME7.1.1 engine management system replacing the old Zytek system. Two Garrett T3 turbochargers replaced the single T4 set-up. These tweaks miraculously turned the Bentley Arnage T into the fastest four-door saloon in the world for its day. Bentley has been turbocharging their engines since the 1982 Mulsanne.

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The 6.8 litre 411 CID 16-valve V8 engine produced 451 hp @ 4,100 rpm with 875 Nm of peak torque @ 3,200 rpm. Performance was rated as 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 14.6 seconds, with a top speed of 168 mph. It could do the ¼ mile @ 98 mph in 14.2 seconds. The engine was mated to GM’s 4-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission.

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The Arnage was a large luxury saloon built by Bentley from 1998 until 2009. It was also built as the Rolls Royce Silver Seraph until BMW purchased the brand and replaced it with the current day Phantom family. This was the last bodyshell the two would ever share. The Siamese twins had been successfully separated. This body design was the first retooling for the two since the 1980s.

The Bentley Arnage when introduced was powered by the BMW 4.4 litre V8 engine with a Cosworth engineered twin-turbo set-up. The Rolls Royce got the W12 normally aspirated twelve cylinder engine. Both had bodywork done at Crewe. Series I Arnage models were built from 1998 until 2004. The 4.4 litre BMW V8 was marketed as the Arnage Green Label and was available from mid-1998 until mid-year 2000.

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The Arnage T was built as monocoque construction. The front & rear suspension were independent and consisted of double wishbones with computer controlled adaptive electro-hydraulic dampers. The Arnage T was a large front engine rear drive saloon. It rode upon a long 122.7” wheelbase, had the luxury length of 212.6”, and was 76.1” wide.

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The Bentley Arnage will go down in automotive history as Bentley’s most controversial model. With the nasty split, BMW and Volkswagen locked horns in a sophomoric battle, both emerging as victor in this power-struggle. Bentley was finally out of the Rolls Royce shadow and was its own entity. The 2003 Bentley Arnage T Mulliner Twin-turbo became the world’s fastest production four-door saloon.

The tradition of hand-crafted artistry handed down from generations was instilled in the new Bentley Motors. It quickly established itself as its own identity. A Bentley Arnage is a masterwork of automotive art…the Mulliner magic touch elevates this to even more exclusivity and supremacy in an ultra-luxury motorcar. Power, presence, and prestige were bestowed upon the owner/driver of the 2003 Bentley Arnage T Mulliner Twin-turbo saloon. The Arnage Series was one of the finest crafted Bentleys to come from Crewe.

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Many thanks to both Bentley UK and Daniel Schmitt

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This tribute is from the Bad Boy’s Club…

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2003 Bentley Arnage T Mulliner Twin-turbo saloon

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One Response to “2003 Bentley Arnage T Mulliner”

  1. Tony Littlewood Says:

    Fabulous write- up. Should be better known!

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