As the Windrush team welcomes the new Bentley Continental W12 to our prestige car storage, we look back at the British builder’s biggest hit.
There’s something about a Bentley. Whenever one of the British marque’s models rolls into Windrush’s prestige car storage, heads turn and tools are downed. It’s the shape: muscular and full-bodied, without being brutish or boxy. It’s the all-pervading air of class, with luxury and sophistication factored in right from the drawing board. But it’s also the sense that beneath that refined British exterior beats the heart of a race-winning beast.
Posting 650hp and 208mph, the new Continental GT W12 has been dubbed by some as the last of the Bentley muscle cars – and it’s been the Windrush team’s pleasure to welcome this latest model to our long term car storage in London and the Cotswolds. But what are the all-time-best Bentley bruisers?
Bentley 3 Litre
Right from the start, Bentley embodied the ‘big is best’ ethos, with this 1921 behemoth dwarfing the Bugattis that ruled the circuits of the era. Fortunately, much of that extra bulk was down to the monster engine – and after the car won Le Mans twice in the decade, nobody questioned its dimensions again.
On paper, you could call the Blower a glorious failure: it never won Le Mans, was loathed by W.O. Bentley himself (and given the distinctly backhanded compliment of being “the world’s fastest lorry” by Ettore Bugatti). Yet the
image of Sir Henry Birkin behind the wheel with scarf aflutter is utterly indelible, and anyone lucky enough to drive a Blower has fallen in love (“It feels more like a vintage biplane than a car,” said Autocar’s Andrew Frankel).
Bentley 8 Litre
In glorious denial of the Great Depression, Bentley spared no expense with this large-bodied, straight-six 1930 stunner, whose aspirational vibe was helped along by the fact that only 100 examples were ever made. Sadly, it was a case of ‘right car, wrong time’: the financial straits of the era meant the 8 Litre sold poorly and left Bentley’s finances in ruins (although the car has made a strong comeback on the modern market).
Bentley Blue Train
Worthy of inclusion for the folklore alone: Bentley’s best driver, Sir Woolf Barnarto, wanted to see if he could drive a Speed Six saloon (by H.J. Mulliner) from Cannes to England in the same time it took the then-mighty Blue Train Express to get from Cannes to Calais. He made it, and the car would never be forgotten.
Bentley Turbo R
Launched in 1985 – and seen by many as a return to form for the marque – the Turbo R saw Bentley’s path diverge from that of owner Rolls-Royce (then making some of the most serene models in its history). Armed to the teeth with a fuel-injected V8, enormous tyres and audacious (albeit unofficial) power figures of 296hp, it was, in the best possible way, a thug in a suit.
Bentley Continental T
First produced in 1996 as a cousin of the Continental R – but with more athletic dimensions and an engine upgraded to 400bhp – the T walked the perfect tightrope between luxury and aggression. Classy touches abounded, from the milled dashboard to the straight-grain mahogany waistrails, but with 590lb/ft torque and a top speed of 155mph, this coupé devoured the road.
Bentley Arnage T
Bentley hadn’t released a truly original design since 1980 before the Arnage rolled off the Crewe production line in 1998, with this new series named after the notorious right-angle corner at Le Mans. The ‘T’ incarnation was the best, with its 6.75 engine and 500hp exemplifying go-faster British luxury.
‘Is the Brooklands the most collectable modern Bentley?’ wondered the Classic Driver website. Probably, yes. With only 550 hand-built examples ever
made, anyone lucky enough to acquire Bentley’s ultra-rare sporting coupé should guard it with their life. Although, given the 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8 and 530hp, treating the Brooklands with kid gloves will take serious willpower.
Bentley Continental GT Speed
Unveiled in 2007, Bentley planted its flag in the post-millennium with this first wave of the modern Speed models. The aerodynamic looks belied a meaty 2350kg, but the Speed lived up to the billing with a pacy 0-60 figure of 4.3 seconds and a top velocity of 198mph, courtesy of the 6.0-litre W12 engine.
Bentley Bentayga W12
Rewind to 2018, and few expected Rhys Millen’s showroom-spec Bentayga to threaten the 12-minute record held by Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Ten minutes and 49 seconds later, his W12 was at the summit in Colorado – and Bentley’s contemporary status as a builder of cars for drivers was beyond doubt.
Prestige car storage, for Bentley boys and beyond
At Windrush, we’re always ready to give your Bentley the best home – but our classic car storage welcomes every marque and model in the book. This is prestige car storage taken to the next level, flowing from our twelve-step induction to a proactive storage service that takes in 24/7 security, twice-daily checks, plus battery and drip tray inspections each week. And when you choose our long term car storage, we’ll keep your vehicle in a constant ready-to-roll state, with an expert maintenance checkover every 60 days.