Looking for a nail-biting investment? How about a two-door Bentley?
By John Howell / Tuesday, November 16, 2021 / Loading comments
Now, we all can think of cars that we’ve sold and wish we hadn’t, because they’ve rocketed up in value or cars we didn’t buy when we should’ve, because they were once cheap but now out of reach. Well, I am here with a top tip, and you’ve only yourselves to blame if you don’t take it. This is a car that I am sure (although, of course, nothing in life is guaranteed) is going to end up being very expensive in years to come so get onboard now before it’s too late. I am not even going to charge you a consultancy fee (although donations are very welcome).
It’s the Bentley Continental R. Why is it destined for a price rise? Because it’s a low-volume, handmade, two-door Bentley that looks sensational. Even though it was a child of the 80s, there’s nothing brash about this big Bentley, which is not something that can always be said of the more modern stuff. Those lovely lines, penned by John Heffernan and Ken Greenley, are timeless and elegant. And here’s the thing: good-looking Bentley coupés tend to become valuable when they get older.
Certain versions of the Continental R already are heading towards the stratosphere, like the Continental SC. That not far away from £200k these days – despite the fact that its T-bar roof is almost certain to leak – and where that leads, the rest will surely follow. Yet you can still pick-up tidy examples of the ‘common or garden’ Continental R for sensible money (around £30,000) but, lurking in the range is, I believe, the one to have. The one that’s rare and not yet spiralled.
No, it’s not the short-wheelbase T. That is a great thing, but examples are already pricey. It’s the halfway house: the Continental R Mulliner. This was based on the standard-length R bodyshell but it had the T’s flared arches and, more importantly, its engine. So that’s 6.75-litres of all-alloy, pushrod V8 that produces 420hp and 650 lb ft of torque. Okay, those aren’t especially crazy figures by today’s standards, I know, but at the turn of the millennium they were pretty daunting.
The difference here is that you didn’t have to rev the engine like billy-o to get at either of them. I used to sell these, so I know of what I speak, and I can’t remember a car with another engine that was so nonchalant in delivering its wares. Think of it this way: if a high-revving Ferrari V12 is like the stereotypical Italian (talented, exciting, but prone to histrionics) the venerable, Crewe-built V8 is the archetypal British chap; Algernon Moncrieff, if you will, breezing through life apparently without a care in the world.
I mean, what other engine can you think of that idles at around 500rpm and has dispensed peak power by around 4,000rpm? Plus, it had a truck-sized Garrett turbo and yet so much natural torque that, even before that starts spinning, you’re not short on shove. Never has the term effortless been so apt. Admittedly, you will have to fuel and service it, and servicing old Bentleys isn’t like servicing most other classics. Parts, for a start, can be mega money, and you won’t find many by popping down to your local motor factors. Then you need someone to fit them, and Bentley-trained mechanics know that their skill is rare and, therefore, worth paying for.
But don’t bailout just yet. Just think what you’re missing here if you do. Not just a wonderful car to look at, with a wonderful engine to enjoy, you also get that fabulous interior. Look at that supple, hand-stitched hide; look at that rich, French-polished woodwork; look at that centre console with its stack of dials. It’s like a Lancaster bomber that’s been turned into a gentleman’s club.
I do seriously believe my hype, by the way – how can this not end up as an appreciating asset when just 131 were made? – but even if my predictions prove unfounded, even if you do spend some wedge on keeping it ticking over smoothly, so what? You haven’t really lost out, have you? You will have owned a very special car and that’s worth something. Share options and Bitcoins, which can go up or down, too, don’t forget, don’t possess that degree of duality. So go ahead and enjoy yourself.
SPECIFICATION | BENTLEY CONTINENTAL R MULLINER
Engine: 6,753cc, V8, turbocharged
Transmission: 4-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 420 @ 4,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 650 @ 2,400rpm
Recorded mileage: 63,000
Year registered: 2002
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £65,000
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