Archive for Bentley Mulliner

2017 Bentley Mulsanne: A Trilogy of Luxury

Posted in Bentley, Editorials, Extreme Luxury, Luxury Sedans with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2016 by 99MilesPerHour

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“Big Ben’s” rise to ultimate success reads like a modern-day “Cinderfella” story. Poor little understudy, Bentley…was always in the shadows. As its wicked step sibling – Rolls Royce – rode off on its high horse stealing the publicity and limelight…Bentley was left behind to clean the stables. The once formidable track star – which negotiated the chicanes and the Mulsanne Straight winning numerous events in the grueling 24 hours of LeMans – was reduced to a badge engineered clone. Today’s Bentley…the all-new Bentley – is now at home behind gated estates AND is parked right beside Rolls Royce at the country club sharing the spotlight equally.

Bentley has catapulted from being a humble Rolls Royce throwback…straight to eminent immortality. The flagship of the fleet is the iconic Bentley Mulsanne. It has swiftly established its reputation in the ultra-luxury car segment being part limousine and part performance saloon. The ultra-exclusive Bentley Mulsanne is one of the world’s fastest four-door saloons. “Big Ben” is back with a vengeance and a thirst for adventure. It has carved its own niche as a new breed of luxury with three distinctive models: Mulsanne, Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase, and Mulsanne Speed. This is a unique Trilogy of Luxury – each offers its own poised dignity which is a hallmark of the brand.

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Alluring new beauty

The Mulsanne totally disregards status quo. Since its inception, it has created its own unique manner of exclusivity in a niche no other motorcar can fill. For 2017, the Bentley Mulsanne features refined new beauty. Its coachwork has been re-tooled for a familiar yet dramatically new appearance. The long, low, wind-cheating architecture draws from its retrospective heritage. The bodywork is etched with a symphony of lines that appear never beginning and never-ending forcing the eyes to roam its entirety in a single appraisal.

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Its facelift creates even more exquisite beauty. Mulsanne represents the pinnacle of elegance in ultra-luxury motoring. Its new refinement begins with a restyled front end ensemble. Everything in front of the “A” pillars has been refreshed adding graceful definition. Mulsanne’s signature styling has been retained yet tastefully updated.

The elegant redesign echoes classic Bentley styling cues. The bold new attributes features all-new front wings and bonnet. Its classic grille work has changed from the previous matrix design to a distinctive wider framed design with dominant vertical stainless-steel vanes. Its familiar LED projector headlamps proudly features the Bentley name. The grille work repeats below the impact-resistant bumper with symmetrical vents for the air induction system.

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Subtle refinement adds panache to the rear end ensemble. Newly designed taillamps highlight Mulsanne’s sculpted look. The previous ellipse style taillamps are replaced with a dramatic LED design which reveals the famous “B” motif. The discreetly modified profile gives Mulsanne a prominent, more upright appeal. Understated dual stainless-steel exhaust ports adds the finishing touch of class.

Superb engineering

The familiar silhouette has undergone a subtle enhancement. Its chiseled new definition adds unique character. Its shoulders are squared off to augment a sweeping new elegance. The side strake vents sports an integrated “B” into its stainless-steel charm. Mulsanne’s beauty is composed of a galvanized steel bodyshell with its front wings, hood and doors made from aluminium. The SMC (Sheet Molding Compound) composite bootlid has an integrated antenna.

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Mulsanne is built like no other. Bentley’s process of hand-brazing yields perfect joins around intricate curves. The bonnet, boot lid, doors, and front wings are crafted using the “Superform Process.” This patented system creates complex panels from a single sheet of product to eliminate body seams and welds. This feature not only eliminates areas for corrosion but also aids aerodynamic efficiency. Each Mulsanne is a consummate blend of design excellence, advanced engineering, and of course… exemplary fit and finish.

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Luxury and innovation

Mulsanne is a showcase of Bentley superlatives. Evolution plays an important role in the continual strive for excellence. The company flagship is one of the world’s most spacious and splendidly appointed saloons. It offers more than inert luxury; it cossets its passengers in technological sophistication. Intelligent electronics and controls assist the driver and elevates passenger comfort.

Advanced chassis refinement with more efficient air springs and hydraulically damped sub-frames eliminates noise 4 decibels more than the previous model. Noise absorbing technology in the tires results in a 50% decrease in peak rolling noise. Mulsanne’s formidable V8 does its part by reducing noise another 25 decibels using a closed loop system to cancel vibration.

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The most elegant occasion seldom surpass the splendor of the journey in the Bentley Mulsanne that took you there. The epochal Bentley brand is epitomized by the luxury and distinction of the Mulsanne. Its world-class attributes are further exemplified offering three unique expressions of this elite flagship. Each shares the unparalleled opulence that is the essence of the brand.

Mulsanne…Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase…and Mulsanne Speed all create a delightful agony of choice. Whatever model is chosen, rest assured…it will move over the road with an effortless feeling of mastery that confirms its place as the ultimate statement of Bentley engineering. They are three of the most ambitious four-door luxury saloons the world has to offer –

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Mulsanne standard wheelbase is contemporary luxury that methodically repeals the laws governing saloons in its class. This is high performance cloaked in absolute respectability. It cossets its occupants in an exclusive world of supple natural grain leather and rich handcrafted veneers. Most every power assist imaginable is standard fare to augment comfort and convenience.

The Mulsanne received cabin updates for the 2017 model year. Redesigned seats, door trim, armrests, and unique glass switch gear makes it even more opulent. In addition to 24 exquisite hide colors, Mulsanne features an all-new infotainment system and navigation technology. State of the art audio and visual equipment is available to tailor the entertainment system to the owner’s requisites. The Bentley Mulsanne can serve with equal distinction as a high performance touring saloon or the varying roles demanded of a family sedan.

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Luxury with an emphasis on the rear passenger compartment is important to those who prefer to be driven about in style. Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase is 9.8” longer than the standard saloon. This means…rear seat passengers have more legroom and room for special appointments.

Limousine-style seating makes use of the extra inches by incorporating power assisted leg rests into the base of the aircraft inspired lounge seats. These extend outward pivoting as recliners. They make the special world of Mulsanne even more so. This extra exclusive cabin is a 2+2 configuration with front and rear center consoles.

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The exclusivity is augmented with options to make the Mulsanne EWB saloon a highly bespoke masterpiece. Electric rear seat curtains may be requested with a black or champagne lining for the ultimate in privacy. Both rear seats can be ordered with deployable folding tables. A large glass sun roof over the rear cabin may be operated by passengers or the driver. It tilts and slides with an Alcantara sun blind to control light entering the cabin. The extra special accoutrements focused upon the rear seat passenger compartment sets this personal limousine apart from the standard saloon. Bentley Mulsanne is the quintessential flagship replete with an elegant flair all its own. The Mulsanne EWB saloon is luxury and elegance on the grand Bentley scale…in the grand Bentley manner –

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…welcome to elite sophistication

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Rear seat passengers benefit from the all-new “Bentley Entertainment Tablet.” A pair of 10.2” Android devices with 4G Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability are integrated into the front seat backs and deploy at the touch of a button. The Android powered tablets feature Bentley-specific interface with access to over one million Android Apps.

They may also be used away from the car. Each tablet has 32GB on-board storage capability. The system interfaces with the car’s navigation system. Audio/Visual streaming capability is included as part of the Mulsanne’s inter-connectivity along with internet browsing. With a motorcar as highly bespoke as Mulsanne, the client may design their own exclusive suite of infotainment to interface with home or office systems.

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Mulsanne EWB is the epitome of executive-class luxury

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The famous 1929 “Blue Train” Bentley

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Introducing one of the fastest production limos in the world

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The formidable Mulsanne Speed

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The return of the silent sports car…

Mulsanne nomenclature adorned a new breed of Bentley supercars beginning the 1981 model year. Bentley Mulsanne was marketed as “The return of the silent sports car.” This spectacular motorcar revived the Grand Touring tradition with high style and a prolific presence few cars can compete… 

It targets the driver who demands luxury with extraordinary performance combined with European handling and finesse. This is the ultimate statement of Bentley sporting philosophy. The Mulsanne is named after a portion of the tracks at LeMans where drivers reach their highest speeds known as “The Mulsanne Straight.”

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The 2014 Mulsanne Speed blew the doors off its competition

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This is the ride for executives who work…quickly – 

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The illustrious Mulsanne Speed became the most spirited contemporary Bentley model joining the ranks for the 2014 model year. Mulsanne Speed for 2017 is a pulse-invigorating performance saloon that offers substantially more than performance. Talented artisans handcraft rare veneers, high quality natural grain hides, and plush pile carpets into a cabin of unsurpassed comfort and distinction.

Mulsanne Speed remains true to form being a fast sporting machine built in the classic European tradition. Performance, impressive road capabilities, silence, and superb comfort come together in the newest of a historic and elegant line of motorcars that have made Bentley the definitive choice among enthusiasts for well over half a century.

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Mulsanne Speed has its own prominent character

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Here’s a grand touring saloon that does 0-60 in 4.8 seconds

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Mulsanne Speed is one of the most tastefully appointed sporting saloons in the world. A coined finish to door handles, knurled gear shift lever, and “organ stop” ventilation controls gives the cabin its own unique personality. The drilled alloy foot pedals proves the Mulsanne Speed’s pedigree as the ultimate grand tourer. The cabin is as luxurious as it is sporting –

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1929 Bentley 6.5 litre

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The heart and soul of this British masterpiece beats the 6.75 litre light alloy 16-valve OHV twin-turbocharged V8 engine. High revs at low rpm is a Bentley hallmark. This legendary powerplant cranks an astounding 530 hp @ 4,000 rpm packing a prolific punch with 1,100 Nm of peak torque @ 1,750 rpm for the Mulsanne Speed. Mulsanne and Mulsanne EWB offers equally impressive performance pumping 505 hp @ 4,000 rpm with an astounding 1,020 Nm of peak torque at 1,750 rpm.

Its chassis is equally aggressive to accommodate this masterful motorcar. Advanced technology delivers one of the world’s most refined rides with effortless comfort via selectable sports suspension to fine tune the ride to the driver’s preference. This luxury brute is highly capable of performance that would shame a sports car. Longitudinal acceleration for the Mulsanne Speed is rated as 0-60 mph in a mere 4.8 seconds with a top speed in the 190 mph range. While Mulsanne and Mulsanne EWB has longitudinal acceleration rated as 0-60 mph in just 5.1 seconds with a top speed in the 184 mph range.

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High performance is nothing new to any Bentley. From its humble beginnings with its creator W.O. Bentley who initiated the legend to the notorious Bentley Boys that earned consecutive wins from 1927 to 1930 at the grueling 24 hours of LeMans – Bentley EARNED its respect.

Bentley has always been a tad bit more spirited than its Rolls Royce counterpart. It was considered the sporting version of Rolls Royce for the owner who wished to maintain a low profile. Walter Owen Bentley’s motto was “To build a good car, a fast car, and the best in its class.” His cars raced climbing hills at Brooklands…scorching the tracks at the Indy 500, and those famous wins kickin’ up a little dust at LeMans.

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The famous Calais-Méditerranée Express race

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1 of 30 Bentley Arnage Blue Train Limited Editions

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Aside from Mulsanne’s luxurious appeal, there is also a practical sense. Its powerful V8 engine is geared for today’s world. “Big Ben” is the unexpected economy car. The Mulsanne uses technology to reduce overall fuel economy via cylinder deactivation to allow the car to cruise on four cylinders under light vehicle loads.

Cam phasing is also big news in the auto industry. Cam phasers help to increase fuel efficiency by decreasing the power needed to turn the engine over and keep the camshafts in optimal positions at all times. The engine is mated to the energy-efficient 8-speed ZF automatic transmission as part of Mulsanne’s electronic network aimed at reducing fuel consumption. (ahem…if one can afford the car, obviously fuel economy is insignificant…right?)

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Note the styling continuity, the previous Mulsanne saloon remains as tasteful and elegant as the current model. This only proves that good taste is never rendered redundant.

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1973 Bentley T saloon

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“Big Ben” is a highly intuitive luxury saloon equipped with a thinking suspension. It uses an air cushioned system with Continuous Damping Control (CDC) to refine the ride at lower speeds for comfort. It automatically lowers the car’s ride height at higher speeds to aid stability while enhancing vehicle downforce.

Drive Dynamics Control System allows the driver to program the ride operated by a rotary switch mounted next to the gear shift lever. The driver may choose from Bentley, Sport, or Comfort. And if this isn’t sufficient…there is a 4th selection. Custom mode enables the driver to select bespoke settings through Mulsanne’s multimedia system to further fine tune this luxury limo to suit their individual exigencies.

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Mulsanne is a continual source of unparalleled excellence with comfort and convenience beyond the realm of ordinary luxury motorcars. For example…Mulsanne’s “High Beam Assist” automatically dips its high beam headlamps when oncoming vehicles approach to avoid dazzling the eyes of motorists at night.

This electronic system adapts the shape of the light beam according to vehicle speed operating in 4 modes from which to select: Town, Country, Motorway, and High Beam. An ingenious “Blind Spot Warning System” detects vehicles behind the car in its blind spots to predict the possibility of collision. It flashes lights in the door mirrors. Another of Mulsanne’s collision mitigation features is Advanced Automatic Stability Control (ASC) to maintain optimum vehicle poise when needed.

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…The opulent Mulliner Touch

Bespoke is a sine qua non for Mulsanne. Each Bentley is handcrafted to reflect the requisites of its owner. The ultra-exclusive world of Mulsanne is further exemplified by Bentley through an extensive personal commissioning program. Mulliner is the in-house coachbuilder to design an automotive masterpiece that is as uniquely individual as one’s own finger prints. The majestic Mulliner personal commissioning service is limited only by one’s imagination…

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The Mulliner touch immediately escalates Mulsanne to new heights in exclusivity and supremacy which becomes the pinnacle of Bentley luxury and elegance. One such example has been created for George Bamford of Bamford Watch Department. Bamford specializes in the bespoke customization of elegant timepieces.

The Bamford X Bentley Mulliner Mulsanne Speed was designed in an elegant monotone of chic dark hues which is a true reflection of his very own savoir-faire. His signature panache coordinates black and dark tinted elements with a Beluga finish to all interior and exterior bright ware.

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Once the Mulliner magic has been cast, the motorcar becomes a highly collectible heirloom. Apart from custom handcrafted four-door saloons and limousines, Mulliner has created two-door fixedhead and drophead coupé models. Only those who know the bona-fide meaning of success can fully comprehend the true nobility of a Mulliner masterwork.

Before the spit between Bentley and Rolls Royce, HJ Mulliner, and Mulliner Park Ward handcrafted all two-door models exclusively. Bentley and Rolls Royce were at the time, built primarily as four-door saloons. The coupé models had to be coachbuilt. The elusive Corniche models became the dernier cri in grand touring coupés.

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Mulliner creates exclusivity, pedigree, and élan. Each masterwork becomes a crowning achievement in all of motordom. The pleasure of owning such a magnificent example of automotive art is reveling in the fact that no other motorcar will be exactly the same… 

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Mulsanne “L” one of only 2 built between 1984 & 1988

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1997 Bentley Turbo R 400 Mulliner Park Ward Newport Edition 

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note the impeccable fit and finish

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1963 Bentley Continental S3 Flying Spur by Mulliner

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1960 Bentley Mulliner coachbuilt coupé

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Here’s the world’s only Bentley badged Camargue

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1959 Bentley S1 standard saloon

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1964 Bentley S3 standard saloon

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The eloquent 1977 Bentley T2 standard saloon

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…do I give you the business or what?

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…The finale – this is the end of a magnificent era in luxury motoring. Here is the last time a body shell would be shared between these two legends. The Bentley Arnage and the Rolls Royce Silver Seraph is the end of the line. After these two icons rolled out of the assembly hall at Crewe…there became a distinct difference. “Just in fun…the fight begun, before long a web of hate was spun! Bentley pretended…same as Rolls Royce – but friends again they’d never be…so they scandalized, and criticized, and then they learned how to despise – “

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Bentley Arnage exhibits understated preeminence

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Arnage is the summit of unpretentious glamour

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…Epilogue

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Bentley 8 litre

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“Big Ben” stands alone today and is no longer foreshadowed by you-know-who! It’s a masterpiece that could only come from the master craftsmen. No car in years has so captured the admiration of the ultra-luxury market segment as the Bentley Mulsanne. Whatever the occasion…there is no more magnificent manner in which to arrive. This is luxury on the grand Bentley scale…unique even among other Bentley models.

The Mulsanne is rich in power assists, conveniences, appointments, and lavishly elegant interiors. The famed 6.75 litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine has one of the largest displacements in the industry. Mulsanne, Mulsanne EWB, and Mulsanne Speed each possess a distinctive character of its own. Whichever sumptuous saloon you select, rest assured…you own the world’s standard of excellence in luxury motoring. Stunning elegance, extraordinary power, and exceptional handling characteristics are just a few of the outstanding attributes one may expect from a Bentley Mulsanne – (applause…applause)

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Many thanks to my friends at Bentley Crewe http://www.bentleymotors.com/. Special thanks to my buddy Rodd Sala at Park Ward Motors Museum http://www.parkwardmotorsmuseum.com/. Hello to one of the finest Luxury Car dealers in the world Balmoral UK http://www.balmoraluk.com/. And I can’t thank Daniel Schmitt Classic Cars enough http://www.schmitt.com/. Thanks again for making this special tribute to the 2017 Bentley Mulsanne and Bentley history possible.

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…welcome once again to Greg’s World

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Greg’s World IS NotoriousLuxury  © 2016–2018

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Bentley: The Legend of Big Ben

Posted in Bentley, Editorials, Exotic Exotics with tags , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2014 by 99MilesPerHour

The legend of Big Ben continues

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From rags to riches describes the Bentley brand. The story reads as though it was a soap opera. Bentley, a once formidable thoroughbred was purchased and the brand was forced into a virtual subservience. The legend of Big Ben continues. While the snooty Rolls Royce rode off on its high horse…Big Ben was left cleaning the stables. It’s a classic fairy tale; Cinderfella suffered numerous indignities but managed to land on his feet. Not many are aware of his plight.

Did you ever wonder how the formidable Bentley brand ended up wearing hand-me-down architecture from “you-know-who?” It’s more of a tear-jerker than “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.” There’s more drama than “The Valley of the Dolls.” It has more suspense than “The Stepford Wives.” It seems…Rolls Royce was the “Perfect Stranger…” Rolls Royce isn’t the Flo Ziegfeld of the auto industry as you may have thought – And now, here’s the true story of how Big Ben became the bastard at the Rolls Royce family reunion…

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Once upon a time in a town called Cricklewood near London in the UK there lived a man whose vision led him to build some of the fastest and most durable cars in the land. His name is Walter Owen Bentley who simply went by W.O. He always wanted to design and build his own range of automobiles that would bear his name. W.O. was in partnership with his brother Horace Milner Bentley selling French DFP automobiles. It was a trip to the DFP factory in 1913 when W.O. glanced at an aluminium paper weight and had a brainstorm of crafting internal engine pistons out of this lightweight material instead of cast iron. The first Bentley aluminium pistons were installed in aero engines for the Sopwith Camel during WWI.

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On August in 1919, Bentley Motors LTD was registered. Ex-Royal Flying Corps, Officer Clive Gallop designed a 4-valve per cylinder engine, and a running version of W.O.’s Bentley became reality by December of 1919. The company began taking orders for the cars delivery for June 1920. Their development took a tad bit longer and weren’t ready until September 1921. These vehicles were so awesome that their durability earned widespread acclaim. The Bentley began making its debut at such places as the tracks at the famous Brooklands.

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The NOTORIOUS Bentley’s first major event was the Indy 500 in 1922. The car finished in 13th place with an average speed of 75 mph. But it gets better…let’s fast forward to 1925. Enter the famous Bentley Boys! They were a group of wealthy British motorists that demonstrated the prowess of W.O. Bentley and his cars. One of the group, Woolf Barnato got a 3.0 litre Bentley in 1925 and began winning numerous races at Brooklands.

Bentley Motors LTD had become struggling financially. Influenced by the 1924 LeMans win by Bentley Boys John Duff and Frank Clement, Woolf Barnato agreed to finance the company. He invested a little more than 100,000 pounds into the company with a financial reorganization carried out, gaining control of the entity thus becoming the CEO in the process. With subsequent financial injections into the company in 1927, 1928, and 1929, W.O. was able to design the next generation of Bentley automobiles.

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The Bentley Boys continued to exploit the Bentley’s indomitable spirit and durability. Woolf Barnato, Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin, George Duller, aviator Glen Kidston, automobile journalist S.C.H. “Sammy Davis, and Dr. Dudley Benjafield are the Bentley Boys that brought the Bentley brand into formidable high-performance notoriety. These spirited and talented young men had a zest for life garnering four consecutive wins at LeMans from 1927 until 1930. Kudos to Tim Birkin for developing the light weight “Bentley Blower” in 1929; however, this car was raced before W.O. had a chance to perfect it. Its refinement was positively executed to make the Bentley Blower a formidable opponent.

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Here is the illustrious timeline for Big Ben during his infancy: from 1921-1929 it was the heyday for the trusty 3.0 litre, from 1926-1930 the larger 4.5 litre and the Bentley Blower were the stars, 1926-1930 the 6.5 litre, it was 1928-1930 the 6.5 litre Speed Six took the roads by storm, 1930-1931 the 8.0 litre roamed the tracks, and in 1931 it was the 4.0 litre on the prowl. The 3.0 litre was the original but displacement had to be increased to accommodate the larger bodies installed on the chassis. The most notable from that genre was the 4.5 litre Bentley Blower with its supercharger peeking forward at the bottom of its grille.

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The 4.5 litre was popular in the media. It was used in early James Bond novels before the films. The quintessential “bad boy” John Steed (Patrick McNee) drove one of these in the cult British detective series “The Avengers” in the 1960s.

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Another famous race from the early years was The Blue Train Races. Woolf Barnato wagered  £100 that he could beat “Le Train Bleu” which was going to travel from Cannes to Calais in France, and be sitting at his club in London before the train could reach Calais. He and his Mulliner-bodied Bentley battled inclement weather; uneven pavement, public highways…even blowing out a tire having to use his only spare, but managed to get to a packet steamer to take him to Dover England. Woolf was sitting at his favorite club on prestigious St. James Street in London just as Le Train Bleu pulled into the station at Calais – proving how swift the Bentley was and verifying the notorious reliability of this eminent grand tourer.

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The Great Depression and The Wall Street Crash of 1929 presented a challenge for the brand. People weren’t purchasing luxury items because self-preservation was more important. In 1931 on a fatal day in July, Woolf Barnato defaulted on two mortgage payments. Bentley Motors LTD went into receivership. According to The Times, dated Saturday, October 24, 1931… Napier & Son, aero builders, had reached an agreement to take over Bentley Motors LTD which was in voluntary liquidation…

The plot thickens 

Napier & Son worked an agreeable deal with the receiver to purchase the company. The final deal was to close in November of 1931…when out of nowhere, a competitor by the name of British Central Equitable Trust swooped in like vultures with a counter proposal which out-bid Napier in a sealed bid auction. Are you ready for the shocker? One guess who British Central Equitable Trust is? They were a front for Rolls Royce Limited who purchased the brand for a sum of £125,000! With that apparent shock and that being said, Woolf Barnato received £42,000 for his shares in Bentley Motors LTD. He had already purchased a sizable stake in Rolls Royce not long before the Bentley Motors LTD liquidation. By 1934 Barnato was appointed to the board of the new Bentley Motors Limited.

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Oh what a tangled web we weave… 

The total obliteration of Bentley Motors LTD and its founder was the outcome of a highly personal vendetta involving W.O. Bentley and Ernest Hives. The two engineers had a rivalry that began when W.O. was the official liaison between the Government and aero engine manufacturers. And add the fact that Woolf Barnato had already purchased shares in Rolls Royce – the entity that would eventually buy the Bentley brand – and his ‘default’ on the crucial mortgage payments that sent the brand spiraling into financial doom. Rolls Royce acquired Bentley using an entity by the name of British Central Equitable Trust. W.O. himself, didn’t know the identity of this organization until the deal was finalized…

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The new Bentley Motors LTD (1931) was formed. The Cricklewood factory was closed and sold with production of the Bentley brand ceased for two years. W.O. was unhappy with his position at Rolls Royce. He left when his contract expired at the end of April in 1935; he resigned to join Lagonda, a British luxury car marque that was established in 1906. The connivery and deceit combined with W.O.’s financial situation resulted in one of the greatest thoroughbreds ever, to be stifled and silenced.

All Bentleys from 1931 until 2004 wore hand-me-down architecture; therefore, they were merely badge engineered Rolls Royces. The Bentley gave the Phantom a run for its money in the 1930s…Rolls Royce took advantage of economics and the financial limitations of W.O. Bentley to gain control of the entity. I truly believe that if W.O. had been more cost conscious and he had found better financial backing, the Bentley would have been equally as exclusive, if not more than Rolls Royce.

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1973 Bentley T saloon

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A rude awakening… 

We now fast-forward to contemporary issues. The Bentley brand had sales fallen badly during the 1970s and early 1980s. Less than 5 percent of Rolls Royce Motors Limited carried the Bentley badge. Vickers plc purchased Rolls Royce in 1980. Under Vickers, the Bentley now regained its high-performance heritage with the introduction of the Bentley Mulsanne for 1981. The sporting image stirred a renewed interest in the Bentley brand. By 1986, Big Ben reached 40 percent of the Bentley/Rolls Royce, 40/60 percent production totals.

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In 1997, Vickers decided to sell Rolls Royce Motors. This instigated a back-biting brawl between Volkswagen AG and BMW AG. BMW had provided the engines; the V8 for the Bentley Arnage and the V12 for the Rolls Royce Silver Seraph beginning the 1998 model year. After a tumultuous and highly publicized battle both reached an amicable agreement, VW had control of the Bentley brand and BMW had control of the Rolls Royce brand. The most mind-boggling aspect of this was the fact that Volkswagen AG built both Rolls Royce and Bentley automobiles from 1997 until 2002 with the end of production for the Rolls Royce Silver Seraph. 

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VW AG

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“Just in fun…the fight begun – before long a web of hate was spun…Rolls Royce pretended…same with Bentley…but friends again they’d never be – so they scandalized…and criticized and soon they learned how to despise…”

From 2003 forward, Volkswagen AG maintained the Bentley brand, while still building the Arnage as the Flagship until 2010 when they introduced the Mulsanne to give the Rolls Royce stiff competition in the ultra-luxury car segment. BMW launched the new Rolls Royce Phantom in 2003 under the new legal entity of Rolls Royce Motor Cars Limited. RR constructed a new facility in Goodwood, West Sussex, in England where the new Rolls Royce models would be built. Bentley under Volkswagen AG retained the Crewe facility. VW spent over $845 million dollars to renovate the facility to process the new generation of Bentley motorcars and to increase the production capacity.

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Now, fast-forward to the present day. Big Ben landed on his feet quite well. The brand now has an interesting array of models from which to choose. The Mulsanne is the most sumptuous Bentley in the model hierarchy. It remains the Flagship and is giving the Rolls Royce fierce competition just as it did back in the 1930s. In fact, many believe that Volkswagen AG got the better deal retaining the Bentley brand because it sells twice as many cars as Rolls Royce.

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The Bentley brand has a comprehensive array of automobiles. It has a car for every enthusiast. The ferocious Bentley Continental is just as formidable as it was at one time. The Continental Supersports ISR set a record as the fastest production cabrio on ice in the world. Bentley has infiltrated the motorsport arena as well. Under the leadership of Volkswagen AG, the Bentley brand received new life. Its dignity has been revived, its performance is once again formidable…it retained its high revs at low rpm status as a Bentley hallmark. The venerable brand has regained its stature in the automotive world. Rolls Royce is no longer throwing it shade. The two brands are once again rivals and share a rare arena where other brands dare to venture…

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2015 Bentley Continental GT Speed

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2015 Bentley Flying Spur saloon

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Walter Owen Bentley had a vision. His emphasis was on precision hand-crafting that involved exemplary fit and finish. The use of aluminium in key automotive components was his brain child and quickly spread throughout the auto industry. The extremely lightweight material dominates the contemporary Bentley models. W.O. left an indelible impression upon the industry. His valuable insight developed principles of which today’s Bentley is built upon. 

Excellence without compromise, impeccable craftsmanship, and engineering with cutting-edge technology makes Big Ben an omnipotent presence in the ultra-luxury automobile arena. It is out from under the imperious shadow of “you-know-who” and has become synonymous with the good life. W.O. would be proud to see the results of his genius. Big Ben survived the connivery and deceit, not to mention The Great Depression to become one of the world’s foremost automotive brands. NotoriousLuxury salutes Big Ben…long may he reign and the brand lived happily ever after giving Rolls Royce “the blues…”

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The limited edition 2009 Bentley Brooklands

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Bentley enters the world of motorsports

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Extremely rare Bentley Mulsanne L 1984-1985 only 2 were built

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Photos courtesy Bentley Media

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Special thanks to Daniel Schmitt

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Bentley Turbo R 400

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The only Bentley badged Camargue in existence

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Special thanks to Balmoral UK

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1963 Bentley Mulliner Flying Spur

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Special thanks to Park Ward Motors Museum

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The legend of Big Ben will continue…

Classic Bentley: Life After Rolls Royce

Posted in Bentley, Editorials, Extreme Luxury, Grande Marque with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2014 by 99MilesPerHour

Bentley is becoming more valuable as a collectible

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Classic Bentleys are becoming increasingly popular among collectors. They are minted in such low numbers that instantly guarantees their exclusivity. The Bentley is a rare automobile, even more so than its elusive ex-stable mate the Rolls Royce. HJ Mulliner, James Young, Park Ward, are all names of eminent coachbuilders who created Bentley works of art. Bentley value has been on the upswing starting last decade. A Bentley is the Rolls Royce for the owner/driver that wishes to maintain a lower profile. Bentleys age as a fine Chateau Lafite Rothschild…rich-n-rare.

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1959 Bentley S1

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Bentley earned its reputation as thoroughbred status in the days of the LeMans 24 hour endurance races and the infamous Bentley Boys with consecutive wins. High revs at low rpm became the Bentley selling feature. Through the years with constant refinement the brand has evolved into a completely new status. Since Bentley is no longer under the imperious shadow of Rolls Royce, it has become an ultra-luxury brand desired world-wide.

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From the GT inspired Continentals…to the elegant Flying Spur…to the grandest of the grand tourers, the Bentley Mulsanne saloon… the brand has a luxury car for every taste. Bespoke and Bentley are synonymous. It wasn’t easy to gain world esteem, Bentley did it the hard way through dedication and perseverance. The brand is becoming more prominent each year. Bentley exclusivity is right up there with Rolls Royce exclusivity…Rolls Royce no longer throws Bentley shade-

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John Steed’s vehicle of choice was the Bentley Blower. Steed drove various classic Bentleys from the 1920s on the 1960s cult British Detective Series “The Avengers.” His trusty Bentleys always kept up with the megalomaniacs without skipping a beat. A Bentley has stamina as witnessed by “The Avengers” on numerous occasions. Steed would also “take the Rolls out of mothballs” as well. John Steed is the quintessential ‘British Gentleman’ in every respect, driving a Bentley proved the fact.

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The Bentley Boys in the 1920s and their consecutive wins at LeMans helped to establish Bentley as a world-class thoroughbred. Lest we forget…Woolf Barnato and the classic race against “Le Train Bleu” from Cannes to Calais…beating it and was actually seated at his favorite club on prestigious St James Street in London when The Blue Train arrived at Calais…this feat proved the indomitable spirit of a Bentley traveling over uneven pavement night and day arriving in London without an issue. The victories from 1927 to 1930 at LeMans proved Bentley’s rugged reliability and durability.

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The Bentley S1 was built from 1955 until 1959. It is the standard steel body on frame constructed saloon. This is the first major redesign after WWII. It is also the birth of the iconic bodyshell that is still highly respected by connoisseurs world-wide as a symbol of the good-life. This bodyshell replaced that of the “R” type standard steel saloon that had been in production since 1946. Pressed Steel did the bodyshells for Bentley as well as Rolls Royce.

The S1 is powered by the 4.9 litre in-line 6-cylinder “L” engine mated to a GM Hydra-Matic Flashaway 4-speed automatic transmission. The engine is equipped with two SU HD8 carburetors. The Bentley S1 is a large front engine rear drive luxury saloon. They ride long 123” wheelbases. They have the luxury length of 212” and are 74.7” in width.

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Rolls Royce acquired HJ Mulliner and Company in 1959. They merged Park Ward in 1961 to form Mulliner Park Ward LTD. They created masterworks, highly bespoke saloons of distinction. Most Rolls Royce and Bentley models are saloons. Eminent coachbuilders such as Mulliner Park Ward and James Young crafted custom bodyshells for two-door fixed head and drop head convertible coupes.

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1960 Bentley S2 Mulliner fixed head coupe

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A totally unique luxury two-door saloon is the 1960 Bentley S2 with Mulliner coachwork. Their lightweight construction makes them quick. Their top speed is 109 mph. They are powered by the Rolls Royce 6.2 litre 380 CID 16-valve V8 engine. The engine produces 197 hp @ 4,500 rpm with 450 Nm of peak torque @ 2,500 rpm. It can do the ¼ mile @ 76 mph in 19.3 seconds. Performance is rated as 0-60 mph in 13 seconds, and 0-100 mph in 47.7 seconds. These Mulliner-bodied Bentley two-door saloons are highly sought collector’s pieces.

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Mulliner Park Ward created a custom all-aluminium bodied model called the Continental S2. It is powered by the 6.2 litre V8 engine. The Bentley Continental S2 Mulliner Park Ward is among the most exclusive models in the brand’s history. It is available as a fixed head and a drop head convertible coupe. Its curvy silhouette is unlike any previous model. Its smooth fluid lines are devoid of nomenclature and unnecessary trim. Its timeless design is as fresh today as it was when it was designed. The Continental S2 Mulliner Park Ward was hand-crafted from 1959 until 1962.

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The Rolls Royce 6.2 litre 380 CID 16-valve V8 engine produces 197 hp @ 4,500 rpm with 450 Nm of peak torque @ 2,500 rpm. Performance is rated as 0-60 mph in 13 seconds, 0-100 mph in 49.9 seconds with a top speed of 108 mph. It can do the ¼ mile @ 76 mph in 19.3 seconds. This is a true driver’s Bentley in the grand touring tradition. The Continental S2 MPW is a rare Bentley experience.

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1963 Bentley Continental S3 Mulliner Flying Spur 

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Another rare model is the Bentley S3 Mulliner Flying Spur four-door saloon powered by the 6.2 litre V8. It is tuned to produce 197 hp @ 4,500 rpm with 450 Nm of peak torque @ 2,500 rpm. The engine is equipped with two SU HD8 carburetors and a GM Hydra-Matic Flashaway 4-speed automatic transmission without torque converter. Its performance is rated as 0-60 mph in 13.3 seconds, 0-100 mph in 49 seconds and has a top speed of 108 mph. It can do the ¼ mile @ 75 mph in 19.5 seconds.

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The S3 Continental Flying Spur is a custom-bodied Bentley by Mulliner Park Ward. The S3 Continentals are strictly coachbuilt. They are sleeker than the standard steel S3 saloons. It is the S3 Flying Spur’s higher gearing and architecture crafted entirely in aluminium that makes it faster than the heavier steel-bodied saloons. The S3 Continentals were built from 1962 until 1965. Mulliner Park Ward built 291 and James Young built an additional 20 vehicles.

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This is the ultra rare Continental S3 James Young coupe

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1964 Bentley S3 standard steel saloon

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The Bentley S3 standard steel saloon is as luxurious as the Rolls Royce counterpart. Built from 1962 until 1966 the Series III can be distinguished by the quad headlamp arrangement and the slightly lower radiator grille and bonnet. This is the classiest of the Bentleys from the 1960s.

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The Bentley S3 is also powered by the 6.2 litre 16-valve V8 engine. It produces 197 hp @ 4,500 rpm with 450 Nm of peak torque @ 2,500 rpm. It is equipped with two SU HD8 carburetors and GM’s Hydra-Matic Flashaway 4-speed automatic transmission. The S3 sprints from 0-60 mph in 12.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 53.1 seconds with a top speed of 106 mph. It can do the ¼ mile @ 75 mph in 19.3 seconds.

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This classic body style is selling in six figures. Both the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III and the Bentley S3 are highly sought. But remember one thing…the Bentley was always the bastard at the Rolls Royce family reunion therefore they didn’t make that many…which will eventually make them more valuable than “you know who.” This is the last of the aristocratic bodyshells.

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The Bentley is just as luxurious as ‘you know who’

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Same interior upholstered in leather by Connolly Brothers

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It has the same hand-polished mirror-matched veneers

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It has the same Wilton hand-tufted 100% wool carpet

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Once upon a time Bentley and Rolls Royce lived happily ever after as one in the same. The Bentley was for the owner that wanted to maintain a lower profile without sacrificing luxury. The Rolls Royce gran turismo used to be the Bentley. Grace and sophistication have always been Bentley attributes. It is the collectible Bentleys that are fetching top dollar on the auction block especially the Mulliner-bodied models. Out of all the eminent coachbuilders, Mulliner Park Ward were purveyors of the art in creating automotive masterworks.

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Now that the “line of demarcation” has been drawn, these two distinguished brands are fierce competitors. They both are succeeding. There’s nothing like a classic Bentley, collectors are just now starting to realize…” yes, there’s life after Rolls Royce…”

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The Bentley Mulsanne with the Mulliner Driving Specification

2003 Bentley Arnage T Mulliner

Posted in Bad Boy's Club, Bentley with tags , , , , , , , on July 13, 2014 by 99MilesPerHour

“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…

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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

Bentley Mulliner Driving Specification

Posted in Bentley, Collector's Series with tags , , , on September 23, 2013 by 99MilesPerHour

“Step this way for another adventure in paradise………..”

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……………..NotoriousLuxury