Archive for Big Ben

Bentley Mulsanne Grand Limousine by Mulliner

Posted in Bentley, Editorials, Extreme Luxury, Notorious with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2016 by 99MilesPerHour

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The iconic Bentley motorcar needs no dramatic rhetorical preface. It’s the ultra-luxury saloon for the enthusiast or connoisseur who desires to maintain a low profile. Each is a highly bespoke automotive masterpiece. The elite Bentley Mulsanne is the company flagship designed for discerning clientele that demands high-performance without sacrificing luxury. So…what about the aristocrat that wants even more? Enter stage right…Mulsanne Grand Limousine. This contemporary coachbuilt saloon is Bentley’s magnum opus –

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Bespoke…is Bentley, the two are synonymous. This is why one will never see two exactly alike. Natural materials and the skill of the coachbuilder yields a superlative among superlatives. Mulliner, Bentley’s in-house personal commissioning division works with the client to create a motorcar of distinction that is as unique as one’s own fingerprints.

The Mulsanne Grand Limousine is handbuilt by Mulliner in the grand tradition of this eminent coachbuilder. Unlike traditional “stretch” conversions, Mulliner designed the Grand Limousine to preserve the Mulsanne’s aesthetic purity. This is the longest manufacturer-built limousine in the world. Here’s another one-up for “Big Ben” against you-know-who…

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This resplendent custom crafted limousine retains its beauty as a Mulsanne saloon. Its added dimensions are cleverly built into the architecture. The 39.4” extension to the Mulsanne’s length is discretely added into the bodyshell using a custom crafted panel at the “B” pillars. The rear doors are enlarged to accommodate easier entry and exit to the passenger cabin.

Headroom has been increased by a 3.1” addition into the roof structure. The long, low, sweeping silhouette of the Mulsanne adapted beautifully to the transformation. Nothing appears added-on or out-of-place. The achievement of Mulliner’s coachcrafting makes the Mulsanne Grand Limousine look balanced and well-proportioned with poised dignity from any angle.

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Technology unobtrusively makes itself available to the posh rear passenger suite. The elegant inner world of the Mulsanne Grand Limousine spans beyond polished metal, supple hides, and hand finished veneers. There are many bespoke digital features to bring all the amenities of home to this very special saloon. There’s an intercom system to communicate with the driver. A unique electrochromic “Smart Glass” partition separating the rear suite from the driver’s compartment converts from transparent to opaque at the touch of a button.

The HVAC heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system designed and built by Mulliner enables each rear seat occupant to control their own temperature setting. With the highly bespoke nature of this distinguished saloon, there are myriad on-board computer and communication configurations available to fashion a rolling boardroom for the executive who must work while traveling.

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As far as comfort and convenience…the rear passenger suite houses four of the most desirable seats in the entire industry. The Mulsanne Grand Limousine rivals the luxury of a guest suite at the Burj Al Arab – the rear suite evokes serenity from the outside world with the richness of materials, contrast of color, and harmony of surfaces to provide tactile and visual stimulation. Ultra-exclusive aviation-inspired seating allows passengers to converse face to face. Each lounge seat is electrically controlled to adjust to each occupant’s desired setting; they are also heated and cooled.

There are crystal flutes and a wine bottle cooler located between the front facing seats. Between the rear facing seats is a soft drink cabinet with bespoke crystal tumblers. Mulliner Coachbuilders offers the exercise of choice. This decadently luxurious new offering is available to suit its owner. In order to create a new benchmark for the brand, Mulliner widened choices to infinity making the process of commissioning a most rewarding experience…just as Henry Jervis Mulliner (1870-1967), founder of the esteemed coachbuilding firm, intended it to be –

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The Mulsanne Grand Limousine is powered as no other limousine on the road today. Mulliner re-engineered the powertrain, transmission, chassis, and suspension to accommodate the longest ultra-luxury manufacturer-built saloon in the world. The formidable 6.8 litre aluminium twin-turbocharged V8 engine produces 530 hp with an astounding 1,100 Nm of peak torque to move this magnificent motorcar with aplomb. The chassis and suspension components are refined to withstand the added weight and high torque output of the high performance powerplant.

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The Mulliner coachbuilt Mulsanne Grand Limousine is a splendid highly bespoke motorcar. The pleasure of owning such a magnificent example of Mulliner automotive art is reveling in the fact that no other ultra-luxury saloon on the planet will ever be exactly the same…not even another Mulsanne Grand Limousine. For decades, Bentley is renowned for engineering and design excellence, exemplary craftsmanship, and quality led by a visionary approach.

These are the qualities one is entitled to expect of a Bentley motorcar. From the iconic flying “B” mascot engraved with the words “Coachbuilt by Mulliner” through the extraordinary coachcrafted bodywork…the Mulsanne Grand Limousine is the epitome of grandeur and elegance escalating the Bentley brand to new heights in exclusivity and supremacy in ultra-luxury motoring…a new era has begun –

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Photos courtesy Bentley Media

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2002 Bentley State Limousine for Queen Elizabeth II

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Welcome to Greg’s World of NotoriousLuxury…

Bentley Grand Convertible Concept

Posted in Bentley, Editorials, Exotic Exotics, Notorious with tags , , , , , on October 20, 2016 by 99MilesPerHour

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The pinnacle of open air motoring is a consummate blend of spirited performance, advanced engineering, exemplary fit & finish…and of course – sultry good looks. The ultimate expression of open grand tourers is the Bentley Grand Convertible. This elegant concept model is based upon the ultra-luxurious Bentley Mulsanne saloon.

It predicts the future of handcrafted convertibles built in the grand Bentley tradition of resplendence. Should the Grand Convertible go into production, it will be hand-built at a highly restricted pace to retain exclusivity. The Grand Convertible is the most sophisticated open grand tourer ever created by Bentley –

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The Grand Convertible is a showcase of Bentley superlatives. An elegant 2+2 seating configuration augments its sporty character. Exquisite diamond quilting is used for the naturally tanned hides covering the seats and door panels. Book-matched mirror finish dark stained walnut veneers are patiently crafted by hand to span the fascia, door capping garnish rails, and tonneau lavishly. It is unique in every aspect…rich and rare –

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The Bentley Grand Convertible is endowed with exhilarating performance just as its Mulsanne counterpart. The legendary aluminium 6.8 litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine eminently qualifies the Grand convertible to cruise the horizon with an astounding 530 hp range of power. It packs a prolific punch with 1,100 Nm of torque.

Enormous power, effortless performance combined with luxury and elegance…makes it the grandest of the open grand tourers. Here’s “Big Ben” in its most avant-garde configuration. Rhapsodizing over the wind in your hair and the open road ahead is inarguably the most convincing factors to own this resplendent example of Bentley engineering prowess.

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Should the Grand Convertible enter production phase…it will be an automatic contender for the most desirable car in the world status. After all…it’s an ultra-luxury sporting machine by Bentley – first and foremost. It will incorporate every significant technological advancement introduced by the epochal flagship – the incomparable Bentley Mulsanne luxury saloon. Only a fortunate few will savor its indulgences first hand…the world waits with bated breath –

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Bentley Azure T drophead coupé

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Photos courtesy Bentley Media

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Welcome to Greg’s World of NotoriousLuxury

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The Bentley Grand Convertible is NotoriousLuxury

2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed

Posted in Bentley, Exotic Exotics, Extreme Luxury with tags , , , , , on November 15, 2014 by 99MilesPerHour

…Big Ben returns with a vengeance

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The 2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed represents the signature Flagship in its most provocative form. The Mulsanne is the very essence of the brand. It was hard to make a good thing better, so Big Ben compromised and made the better best. Welcome to the special world of Bentley. The new Mulsanne Speed is the definitive performance saloon that can be as docile as a summer breeze…or fierce and unrelenting as a hurricane – high revs at low rpm is a Bentley hallmark.

Think of Big Ben as the most distinguished thoroughbred at the black-tie affair; all decked out in a tuxedo…one would never guess this limo sprints from 0-60 mph faster than you can read this sentence. The legendary alloy 6.75 litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine has been further refined making the Bentley Mulsanne Speed the fastest ultra-luxury saloon in the world. The legend of Big Ben continues…see, there IS life after Rolls Royce –

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Signature exterior features includes a dark tint finish applied to the exterior stainless-steel matrix grilles. It uses a process unique to the industry. The radiator grille, lower bumper grilles, and wing vents all feature this exquisite treatment. The distinctive projector headlamps and the elegant floating ellipse-style taillamps are also finished with the exclusive dark tint. It creates a special effect at night. The 21” wheels are available in a painted, polished, and dark tint with machined accent finishes. The distinctive chrome exhaust ports are designed to blend into the taillamps with the same shape as the unique taillamp design. Special stainless-steel “Speed” badging is affixed to the front fenders and door tread sill plates identifying the limited edition.

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Four new colors are introduced exclusively for the Mulsanne and Mulsanne Speed. Spectre, Candy Red, Camel, and Marlin are all equally enchanting with each giving the car its own identity. The Mulsanne is a completely bespoke saloon. No two Bentleys will ever be alike with 25 standard shades, an optional range of over 100 colors, and a fully bespoke paint-matching service is available upon request.

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The Mulsanne Speed is fitted with a uniquely contemporary cabin that is sporting without sacrificing the luxury that is synonymous with Bentley. A new two-tone with unique color split and new stitch lines balance a diamond-quilted light color hide with a darker smooth hide. A Bentley patented technical veneer is available which Piano Black panels are expertly handcrafted with carbon-fibre inlays. These new panels are exclusive to the Mulsanne Speed. There are 24 different colors for leather, six duo-tone selections, and ten different veneers available. The new shade of “Camel” matches the new exterior color of the same. Tamo Ash is a new veneer introduced for the Mulsanne

The formidable Mulliner Driving Specification comes standard with the Mulsanne Speed. Signature handcrafted diamond quilting augments the door panels and upholstery, with an indented headlining. Bentley hand embroidered flying “B” emblems adorn the head restraints. Drilled alloy sports foot pedals, a coined finish to interior door handles, knurled sports gear lever, and “organ stop” ventilation controls adds the grand touring touch.

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Since the Mulsanne speed is a totally bespoke automobile, its personalization can be as unique as its owner. Big Ben can be equipped as a rolling board room for the executive that must work while traveling. There’s a 60 GB on-board hard drive in the boot. Its Wi-Fi system uses a dedicated router to keep the car connected to the outside world.

If it’s entertainment that is required, a rear seat Entertainment system is available. It is equipped with two 8” monitors and Bluetooth headphones. Electrically operated tables with connections for iPads and two keyboards can be fitted to the rear of the front seats. A 2,200 watt Naim for Bentley premium audio system may be ordered to expand the standard 14-speaker system. The Bentley Mulsanne Speed offers a comfortable and refined driving experience.

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The iconic 6.75 litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine has been re-engineered. Upgrades include an extensive re-calibration of the engine management system. It features an all-new combustion chamber, inlet ports, fuel injectors, spark plugs, and a new compression ratio to accommodate the added power. New variable valve timing and optimized turbocharger control increases engine torque to record levels.

The engine produces 530 hp with a top speed of 190 mph. It packs a prolific punch with 1,100 Nm of peak torque at a mere 1,750 rpm. Longitudinal acceleration is rated as 0-60 mph in just 4.8 seconds. Big Ben has always moved its occupants with aplomb…

The earth-shattering performance is due in no small part to its upgraded suspension. It is even more driver-focused than previous Mulsanne models. “Bentley” and “Comfort” modes present its limo attributes. The “Sport” mode offers more of a sport/touring orientation with a stiffer attitude to manage the big guy’s body control and steering dynamics. The “Custom” setting allows the driver to design the ride to his taste; steering, chassis, and engine may be coordinated per driver’s preferences. The new “S” mode expands the driver’s control as it maintains the engine idle speed above 2,000 rpm ensuring the twin-turbochargers are ready to deliver instantaneous performance.

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For economy, the engine is equipped with cylinder deactivation. Under light loads, the engine shuts down four of the eight cylinders. The system has been refined for smoother transitions between V8 & V4 operation. New gearbox logic and engine hardware improvements gives a new level of efficiency for the trusty 6.75 litre V8. The recalibrated gearbox is optimized for the increased torque. This results in an immediate delivery of torque upon throttle application.

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The 2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed at the Paris Motor Show

The legend of Big Ben continues. The Bentley Mulsanne Speed is the quintessential grand tourer. Its 530 hp V8 qualifies it as the world’s fastest ultra-luxury saloon. The re-engineered powertrain and chassis refinement offers a driver-tailored experience. This new Bentley Flagship has a unique duality; it can change from an avant-garde performance saloon into an elegantly refined limousine. With its re-engineered V8, new engine management hardware, and new gearbox, it achieves a new level of efficiency. Its cutting-edge technology, legendary comfort & convenience features, combined with exemplary British hand-crafting makes the 2015 Mulsanne Speed a contemporary reinterpretation of the Bentley Flagship.

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Photos courtesy Bentley Media Club, Park Ward Motors Museum, Daniel Schmitt

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2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed

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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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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“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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The only Bentley badged Camargue in existence

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Special thanks to Balmoral UK

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Special thanks to Park Ward Motors Museum

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The legend of Big Ben will continue…

2014 Bentley Flying Spur V8

Posted in Bentley, Editorials, Exotic Exotics with tags , , , , , on August 14, 2014 by 99MilesPerHour

…The legend of “Big Ben” continues…

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…And then came the Bentley Flying Spur V8. Big Ben got relentless with its new life. First a 12-cylinder saloon luxurious enough to qualify as a limousine. Now, an 8-cylinder saloon luxurious enough to qualify as a limousine. The 2014 Bentley Flying Spur V8 is maintaining the Bentley pre-eminence in the world of luxury saloons. The latest manifestation of Bentley Art is a range of motorcars offering an incomparable blend of craftsmanship, advanced technology, comfort, and refinement. The Flying Spur V8 is from a line of distinguished predecessors, this new Bentley model combines the latest technical thinking with that which is tried, tested, and true…

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The Flying Spur V8 is from a tradition of craftsmanship and painstaking attention to detail.  Artisans, stylists, and engineers look to the future incorporating cutting-edge technology in their relentless quest for perfection. No Bentley has ever sprung forth from a blinding flash of inspiration; it emerges over a number of years through evolution, meticulous engineering, and hand-crafting. The company’s approach to building motorcars that require the best that brain, hand, and eye can create…is the philosophy of the artisans who believe there is only one way: the right way to expedite the mission, anything else is highly unacceptable-

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The power comes from the potent 4.0 litre 244 CID 32-valve twin-turbocharged V8 engine. It is equipped with four overhead camshafts, cam phasing, and two parallel twin-scroll turbochargers with indirect intercooling. The engine block, cylinder heads, and pistons are aluminium alloy. It has a forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods. The engine produces 500 hp @ 6,000 rpm with 660 Nm of peak torque @ 1,750 rpm. It sprints from 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 11.2 seconds with a top speed of 183 mph. It can do the ¼ mile @ 104 mph in 13.6 seconds.

This sophisticated powerplant uses Cylinder Deactivation. Four cylinders, valves, and fuel deactivation during light loads are all shut off to conserve petrol. The engine returns to all eight cylinders when required…instantly. The engine is mated to the ZF 8HP90 AL951 8-speed automatic with Quickshift, Block Shifting, and steering wheel mounted paddle-shift. Block shifting allows combined downshifts.

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The Flying Spur V8 rolls with permanent all-wheel drive. The reassuring stability and traction of its computer controlled air suspension maximizes road impact absorption and road noise isolation. The ZF 8-speed transmission and all-wheel drive yields smooth imperceptible shifts. For the enthusiast that enjoys complete control can switch to electronic paddle-shift mode. This twin-turbocharged luxury saloon has a 40:60 rear bias torque split that intuitively changes depending upon available traction.

Its sophisticated suspension compliments the drivetrain. Built as monocoque construction, the air suspension has Continuous Damping Control and four-position driver-selectable settings from “Comfort to Sport.” Two-mode ESP (Electronic Stability Program) enhances brake and throttle regulation with increased cornering control. The ESP may be manually disengaged.

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 The four-wheel independent suspension uses four-link double wishbones with anti-roll bar to the front and a trapezoidal multi-link with anti-roll bar to the rear. The Flying Spur V8 rides a long 120.7” wheelbase, has the luxury length of 208”, and is 77.8” wide.

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Perhaps the key pleasure of driving the Bentley Flying Spur V8 is its undemanding nature. The power assisted steering; cruise control; the smooth transmission; the carefully contoured seating; the unique sophisticated multi-zone Climate control with bull’s eye air vents and organ stop controls; all help the driver and passengers to cover long distances and to arrive feeling refreshed and as comfortable as the journey’s start. The long descent of a winding Alpine pass or high-speed Autobahn or Autoroute may be undertaken with confidence.

Aesthetic and useful features make the Flying Spur V8 the most practical answer for the business professional who must work while travelling. They will undoubtedly enjoy the irresistible pleasure of driving such a motorcar. The RSE Specification is all about multi-media systems, features and accessories. It includes a Wi-Fi router and connectivity unit with a 64 GB hard drive in the boot. For each rear seat a 10” monitor, DVD player, SD card slot, USB port, 12v charging system, and wireless headphones. Bluetooth telephone connection with privacy headset is available. This highly bespoke automobile can be tailored to the owner’s requirements…

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Subtle styling differentiates the Flying Spur V8 from its flagship W12 sibling. The “figure eight” chromed exhaust finishers signify the alternative powertrain, while the famous Bentley winged badge receives the usual red center to denote the V8 engine. The front bumper grilles are finished in black, with a black “wing” insert.

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Signature Flying Spur V8 features include a monotone interior color split with Dark Eucalyptus wood veneer, full bench rear seating with folding center armrest, single front armrest, 19” Classic alloy wheels in a painted finish and a choice of seven exterior paint finishes.

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The Flying Spur V8 Mulliner with the formidable Mulliner Driving Specification is for those who aren’t satisfied with status-quo…and want something as unique as their fingerprints. The door panels and seat cushions have a luxurious diamond quilting which is a Mulliner patent. This bespoke process produces perforations in exact diamond shapes with non-perforated tram lines in between. Its intricacy makes a definite statement of distinction.

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The 4 + 1 rear seat system includes fully adjustable seating with lumbar support. The cabin is further augmented by drilled alloy foot pedals, indented leather headlining, ‘jewel’ fuel and oil filler caps, and embroidered Bentley wings on all head restraints. The standard veneer range is extended to include luxurious Dark Stained Burr Walnut and Piano Black finishes. The full range of 17 hide colors and four additional color splits is available. This Specification includes 20” five-spoke painted alloy wheels.

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For $208,000 USD this can be parked in your driveway. The 2014 Flying Spur V8 is built in the formidable Bentley hand-crafted tradition. This new luxury saloon has the legs of a sports car. It is nimble and quick…it sprints form 0-60 mph in an astonishing 4.9 seconds. The sophisticated 4.0 litre alloy 32-valve twin-turbocharged V8 engine is equipped with Cylinder Deactivation to increase fuel economy. The Flying Spur V8 like its stable mate the Flying Spur V12 cossets its passengers in first class luxury. This highly bespoke vehicle can be ordered to exacting requirements. The 2014 Bentley Flying Spur V8 is luxurious enough to qualify as a limousine.

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The formidable Bentley Flying Spur W12

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Photos courtesy of Bentley Press Club

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

1999 Bentley Azure Mulliner Wide Body Convertible

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

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