There was no time for boredom and the employees of the Bentley company. While managers worked out the brand's strategy with the bosses of the Volkswagen group, and the legal department cut BMW wires in the hope of settling legal issues, the engineering corps pored over the new Continental GT: it was destined to debut at the 2002 Paris Motor Show and become the brand's most successful car at that time. In general, the plant in Crewe was not up to the hunt for pheasants ― here at least have time for five o'clock tea.
2003 Bentley Continental GT
Well, 2003 became a turning point for Bentley: a couple of months after the debut of the Continental GT, the company completely came under the control of Volkswagen, having closed all obligations to BMW AG. By that time, Bentley cars were no longer using the Biturbo versions of the Bavarian V8 M62, and by the end of the year, the first generation Azure convertible, the closest relative of the Rolls-Royce Corniche, had retired.
Bentley Azure Final Series, 2003
The original Azure was produced from 1995 to 2003, it was based on the same SZ platform on which the Silver Spur, Turbo R, the original Mulsanne were built-in general; almost all Bentley (and Rolls-Royce) models of the 1980s. There was only one thread that connected the two brands that had lived side by side for 67 years. That thread was the Arnage sedan, which Rolls-Royce interpreted as the Silver Seraph. Despite the obvious external similarity and almost identical interior, Arnage and Silver Seraph seriously differ technically: for example, the Bentley sedan was equipped exclusively with Biturbo "eights" ― both Bavarian and 6.75-liter "Elks" ― and Rolls-Royce, produced with 1998 to 2002, came exclusively with a 12-cylinder BMW M73 engine. The gearboxes of the sedans were also different: if the Arnage, depending on the year and version, was equipped with a four, five, or even a six-speed automatic, the Silver Seraph was monumental minimalist with its 5-speed ZF 5HP30 automatic.
Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph and Bentley Arnage T
Unlike the Silver Seraph, the Arnage was produced for quite a long time until 2009, when it was replaced by the new generation Mulsanne. For eleven years on the conveyor, the sedan managed not only to significantly outlive the platform Rolls-Royce but also to acquire a couple of "kids" who fully revealed the potential of not only the chassis but also the eight-cylinder L-series engine. The long-awaited "firstborn" was Azure of the second generation. Bentley rightly decided that a large convertible, comfortably accommodating four, customers from California or the Mediterranean countries needed more than a comparable-sized coupe: in the end, both the Continental GT and the Flying Spur sedan could take on this role ― albeit with several reservations. But the big "road yacht" was badly needed by the warm edges.
Bentley Azure T
No sooner said than done: In 2005, the second-generation Azure will debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show, clearly hinting that Bentley's light on the Continental GT hasn't come close. By the very fact of its existence, the convertible seemed to be challenging the modern automotive industry, which, with the change of millennia, for some reason struck futurism and the prevalence of form over function. Bentley Azure Not only was the body panels of the car made by hand but the wheelbase of the Arnage for Azure was not shortened by an inch! And this is more than three meters between the axles! Of course, due attention was paid to the suspension settings, body rigidity, and the roof folding mechanism. And under the hood settled a mighty 6.75-liter V8, already equipped with two turbochargers: in the Azure version it developed 456 horsepower and 875 Nm, and in the Azure T version ― all 507 horsepower and 1000 Nm. But time was playing inexorably against Arnage and Azure: young Bentley customers unconditionally chose the Continental GT, and old school fans were waiting for something paradoxically new. This oddity is most clearly demonstrated by the numbers: of the 10,014 cars that Bentley manufactured in 2007, 9,200 were Continental GTs. Therefore, the model, in which the Rolls-Royce genes were still traced, had to be retired. And, of course, with style. We would like to say a few words about how outstanding and charismatic the original Brooklands was. But alas, the first Bentley with this name turned out to be so inconspicuous that only the most dedicated fans of the brand can recognize it: Brooklands was a more affordable version of the Turbo R model, which, in turn, was associated with Mulsanne, Silver Spur. Again the spirit of the 1980s, again the SZ platform. In general, Brooklands could boast only a small circulation of 1380 copies and, of course, a beautiful name that means a lot to Bentley to this day. The first Bentley Brooklands took its name from the oldest stationary circuit in Great Britain ― that Bentley began to build its reputation as a manufacturer of fast and reliable cars. This was facilitated by the famous Bentley Boys: wealthy men of Britain who, in their free time from their main job, won at the wheel of pre-war Bentley not only in Brooklands, but also at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Brooklands looks equally appropriate on the cobblestones of old European estates, and among the glass fractures of modern architecture. The then "racing technology" Bentley was quite bulky, heavy, and, remarkably, supercharged. Therefore, there is no doubt that Bentley Boys would have fully appreciated the latest Brooklands for today, professing the same principles.
The history of a car that became a classic during its lifetime.
"Bentley's proud sporting heritage, hardened by the immortal Bentley Boys at the iconic Brooklands track in the 1920s, is reflected in our new coupe, which embodies the style, power, and luxury of that era," said then-CEO of Bentley, Dr. Franz Josef Pefgen. And behind this pretentious formulation, replete with epithets, there was crystal clear truth.
At first glance, it might seem that creating the Brooklands was hardly more difficult than the sedan of the same name from the early 1990s. What's so special here is that you turn the fabric top of the Azure into a metallic one, sheathe it with leather from the inside - and go, you're done! However, designer Dirk van Breckel and his team were faced with a really difficult task, and to understand this, it is enough to look at the average convertible, which initially has an analog in the form of a coupe. Convertibles that have hard-topped siblings usually don't look their best with the roof up ― a soft top is a compromise for the automaker. However, the "open" Azure was deprived of this drawback, and the reason is obvious that the car was originally conceived as a convertible, and nothing more. So, if Aziuro simply "concreted" the roof, he could look at least ...a compromise and such a result was unacceptable for a car that marks the end of an era. As a result, van Breckel had to completely redesign the upper part of the car, from the windshield frame to the rear fenders. The lightness and elongation of the Brooklands silhouette added by the missing center pillars (in front of us is a classic hardtop) and a "floating" rear window, which, thanks to a thick black frame, seems to rise above the body. Completing the look are 20-inch rims, which on a 5.4-meter cruise ship do not look at all vulgar. Since the Brooklands was originally supposed to be a small car and very expensive, the engineers from Crewe decided not to bother with the creation of new side panels the Biturbo but welded a hardtop to the base of the body of the Azure convertible. As a result of jewelry manual labor, lasting 110 man-hours for each of 550 Brooklands copies, the hardtop received the highest body rigidity, which was important both for the comfort of passengers and for the pleasure of the driver.
The 2.7-ton coupe can hardly be expected to bring the driving experience of a Lotus Exige, but Brooklands has never been required to do so. Gran Turismo is about something else. For example, about carefree shooting on the Autobahns. Or imposing, comfortable trips somewhere along La Route Napoleon. This is where the old-school Brooklands was unmatched. The hardtop was equipped with the most powerful version of the 6.75-liter L-series V8 Bentley had at the time: with a pair of turbochargers, this antique, dating back to 1959, developed 537 horsepower at 4000 rpm and 1050 Nm at 3250 rpm. ― that is, almost 3 times more than the same engine in the middle of the last century. Thanks to the crazy traction, as well as the stress-resistant six-speed automatic ZF with manual mode, 2650 kilograms of metal accelerated to 100 kilometers per hour in just 5.3 seconds, and the distance of a quarter-mile was covered in 13.3 seconds ... the most kilonewton. With stabilization disabled, Brooklands can turn rear tires into memories in seconds if you wish. The coupe also did not have the slightest problem with the maximum speed ― it was limited only by the length of the road and reached 296 kilometers per hour. The car braked well ― especially with the optional $29,270 carbon-ceramic 14-inch brakes. And the handling ... Brooklands, as they would have said earlier in Crewe, is "sufficient". It is important that driving such a large, heavy vehicle does not cause any difficulties ― and more is not required of it. For feeling the nuances of feedback and oversteer games, the owner of the Bentley Brooklands has other cars. Which, however, on a long journey will not be so convenient and versatile.
Bentley has an idea of what its average customer looks like: according to internal guidelines, the buyer of a Bentley car is a man over 40, whose fortune is estimated at $30 million, and has eight cars in his garage. Presumably, those 550 lucky ones who managed to acquire Brooklands keep it in a prominent place, because its splendor is not only a classic appearance but a "tube" engine with a bouquet of Petrolhead aromas. It is a meticulous love for detail that another person might consider a mental breakdown for the entire engineering team. That Brooklands has two batteries (one for the engine and one for all the onboard electronics) is hardly surprising. But not everyone knows that it took 19 hours of human labor to tailor the Brooklands steering wheel alone. Or that with Mulliner's customization program, Brooklands could be finished with any type of wood. Absolutely anything: from cheap pine, with the look and aroma of which the client associates his childhood, to rare and valuable species, like the eye maple. Absolutely all panels in Brooklands are what they appear at first glance: if something looks like metal, its metal, if something looks like leather, it's leather. They did not save on expensive materials, if only because the reputation losses for Bentley in the case of “ saving on pins” would be much more noticeable. The exceptional comfort and luxury of Brooklands extended beyond the driver and front passenger: in the back row, riders had superb heated seats, individual climate control, individual reading lights, and gorgeous pillars on the C-pillars for highway driving. Doze off, and when driving along a mountain serpentine, gently apply your head under the influence of lateral g-forces. As befits a British luxury car, the floors are covered with high-pile rugs, in which the shoes are buried. Brooklands cost a lot of money during its years of production, with coupe prices starting at $348,085, but since all cars were packed with options and personalized, most were over the $400,000 mark, and some were over half a million.
If you look at the current state of the Volkswagen concern, at how its brands are integrated, it seems that there will never be a car like the Brooklands in Bentley's history. And, even if this opinion is unpopular, we should rejoice in such a combination of circumstances. Because Brooklands didn’t compromise in the slightest, either with its customers or its heritage. This is how the chapter of this book should have ended. I would like to hope that Bugatti will write its history on its own, but for now ... The old school closes, the lights go out forever in the windows. A commemorative plaque appears at the entrance, indicating that we have an architectural monument in front of us, which should not be vulgarized with siding or metal-plastic windows. Brooklands debuted at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show and sold out almost immediately, becoming classic and collectible in its lifetime. Since the car was completely hand-made, the first customers received their coupes only in early 2008, and the last in 2011. It is difficult to say how the workers at Crewe felt when they created this majestic machine. Probably something that only a family psychologist can heal. In 2010, at the end of Brooklands production, Bentley presented a book on the history of the model. It was called “ The Bentley Brooklands&rdquo. It was written by Simon de Burton and recently retired race car driver and journalist Tony Dron. The book was presented in two versions ― "standard" and "special"― and told the story of the model, and also contained previously unpublished photographs from all over the world. What is all this for? In addition, car owners happily bought this book, usually choosing a special version, trimmed with leather in the color of the car's interior. They also bought an Asprey suitcase set, created especially for Brooklands, and a thematic chronograph. Brooklands is more than just a car. Even more than a lifestyle. The four-eyed hardtop has been out of production for a long time. Like its ideological successor Mulsanne, it never became a coupe (in any case, without the help of third-party companies ― here one can not but pay tribute to the daredevils from Ares Design). And now in the Bentley lineup, there is no analog of Brooklands. The third-generation Continental GT coupe, which we truly admire, is a different story altogether. So much so that it is more appropriate to compare the Flying Spur sedan with the outstanding Gran Turismo. We brought him to the Brooklands shoot to show the contrast between the models separated by a couple of decades.
And there is practically no contrast! Externally, both cars are modern classics of British luxury. Yes, the Flying Spur has a wider radiator in the current fashion, but in all other respects, close relatives are recognized in the cars. Technically, the Flying Spur and Brooklands are children of different ages. Not in a metaphorical, but in the most direct sense. Four-wheel drive, rear-axle steering, multi-chamber air suspension, active anti-roll bars, a company of electronic assistants ― that's what is hidden under the aluminum body of the sedan. The Brooklands have in comm Looking into the interior of Brooklands, you can see this very heritage with your own eyes. We even have to remind ourselves that the yacht-like coupe was actually also released in the 21st century and is also equipped with many very modern options. Separate climate control, Naim sound system, seats with massage and memory of positions ... Real luxury ― to combine it all with the status of a classic Bentley collection. Brooklands is like a telescope through which you can peer into the depths of history for a whole century, remaining here yourself, in the comfort and luxury of today's automotive industry with the V8 under the hood instead of the W12 (the engine for the Flying Spur can be selected). In the Spurs salon, you understand how many designers and engineers have done to preserve the entire authentic heritage of the brand. But in a technical sense, interior design is nothing more than a shell for an endless list of equipment that simply did not exist in cars twenty years ago. You can rent a car on our GetRentacar.com website. Do not forget to use the BLGLVSK5 promo code to get an extra discount. You can also leave an application on the website to get the best deals from car owners. Read our article about why this option is more convenient and profitable to choose a car.