By on March 7, 2012

A chat between Jack Baruth and Derek Kreindler discussing the Bentley EXP9 SUV. Because we love it so much!

Jack: The moment I saw this rude beast slouching towards Geneva to be born, I instantly stopped regretting not buying the Arnage Red Label I almost picked up in 2005. Yeah,that was going to be awfully hood rich of me, but this thing makes the dodgy finance of a used dinosaur look classier than Princess Grace.

Derek: I understand on an emotional level how it is vulgar and crass but when you really take it in, it really is nothing more than a Range Rover with a Mulsanne front end grafted on to it. T he RR is the apex SUV in terms of conspicuous consumption. Something HAD to come along and replace it, now that you can buy used Range Rovers for 5 figures that aren’t that different from a 2012 model. There had to be something expensive enough to prevent this “prole drift” from happening – enter the Bentley SUV. It is, as rappers nowadays would say “mad ignorant”.

Jack: I figured it was a Phaeton with a Mulsanne front end grafted onto it. I mean, the Porsche PanArabia showed that you can make a car from a truck. Why not make a truck from a car? What’s the platform beneath? Do we know?

Derek: Nothing was said, and since our NetJets account was suspended by Herr Schmitt, we’ll have to wait until Bentley sends it to our tract-house after an angry letter campaign…Seriously, it’s probably a Cayenne our Touraeg platform. Where are they selling these things? Russia. China. The UAE. In at least two of those places, having a real SUV matters for going to your dacha or dunebashing in the same spot where your Pakistani chattel have made a de facto refugee camp. A jacked up Conti platform won’t cut it.

Jack: Well, at least the ugliest EXP in history is no longer a Ford. Seriously, this thing is slightly worse than the ’82 frog-eye and FAR worse than the reborn glass-tail ’86. Here’s what bothers me about this Bentley. Once upon a time, Rolls-Royce and Bentley made vehicles for English gentlemen. The aesthetic of the vehicles reflected this, unless you’re talking about the Camargue. Bottom line, though, if people who were NOT the target market wanted to buy them, they at least had to take a fairly tasteful and reasonable car. Nowadays, they market directly to the trash. With that said… Have I ever told you the Phantom Pig story?

Derek: No, Please do.

Jack: Alright. It goes like this. The men at Crewe hear a rumor that there is a man who is using an early Phantom to haul pigs. This is, like, in the early Sixties. Before Lennon had a Phantom, even. One of the company reps is tasked with checking it out. He finds a massive estate on which thousands of pigs are busy rooting. The wealthiest pig farmer you can imagine, and as Chaucer would say, verray and parfit.

He sees the man drive up, and sure enough, there are pigs in the Phantom. Wearing ribbons

“Sir!” the rep exclaims. “I am from the Rolls-Royce Motor Car Corporation. Is there a particular reason there are… pigs… in our vehicle?”

“MY vehicle,” the farmer responds. “These pigs are my best. I transport them to shows.”

“Sir!” the rep exclaims again, already feeling like he is slipping a bit in his argument. “We must insist that you do not use the finest motor car in the world to transport PIGS!”

“Pigs paid for it,” the farmer replies, herding a particularly bristly boar out the door, “so pigs will bloody well ride in it.”

You see what I am getting at here.

Derek: I do…and that’s why we now have the Breitling/Bentley collection.

Jack: Please, I thought we’d agreed those didn’t exist. Like Matrix #2 and #3.

Derek: W.O would surely approve of those far less than the EXP. At least you can take the EXP to a Fox Hunt or to the Henley Regatta with some justification. As far as I’m concerned, any discussion of Bentley “brand values” went out the window with that collaboration.

Jack: The Phaeton GTI, I mean, Continental GT, didn’t help matters.

Derek: Anyways, Bentley has always been a bit of a rogue’s car…Woolf Barnato was a Jewish diamond prospector from South Africa, HARDLY a member of the Eton/Magdalene College /KGB double-agent crowd that comprised the male half of the British upper-class.

Jack: Yes, but Woolf was the recipient of a Henry V for racing the things.  You know… “For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; even if he’s a freakin’ Jew, This day shall gentle his condition” or something like that.

But here’s the problem;  As long as they were sellng the Arnage, I could convince myself that the other shit – the Volkswagens, the Russian-gangster quartz watches, the Chinese-made umbrellas – just weren’t, you know, real.Same way we’ve all agreed that Jar-Jar just isn’t part of Star Wars, and that Ted Kennedy didn’t really exist.

Derek: I hear you. And there is something special about those 6.75L cars. Just last summer, my friend Timmy (a classmate of my brothers, four years younger) drove by me in an immaculate, cream on biege 1989 Mulsanne.

The next time I saw Timmy, he was driving his 2011 GT-R, so I asked him about the Mulsanne. It turns out the car belonged to his father since new – but the two of them forgot it existed. It sat for nearly twenty years before they finally got it running again. Timmy drove it that one time, then back to storage it went. You can bet that they are the kind of people who will buy an EXP, since they already have a Ford GT, BMW Z8, GT-R, Jeep SRT-8 and an Escalade already in their garage. They own a Mulsanne and couldn’t care less. You or I would cherish that car. So, you see, times change, aesthetics change, sensibilities change – vulgarity is forever

Jack: Well, to be fair, there’s only $25K between anybody and a Mulsanne. But it’s a commitment to own one. The American Rolls-Royce Owners Club is full of middle-income people who are faithfully extending the lives of the Clouds, Shadows, Spurs, and whatnot. Takes time, effort, and patience. Will anyone, I wonder, bother to save a Bentley SUV once it’s thrown away by its second nouveau owner?

Derek: I never understood that argument “will anyone remember this car in 25 or 30 years”. I mean, who cares – 99 percent of what’s made in any given segment is forgettable crap. The people who you see selling their “1 owner, survivor” 1982 Toyota Tercel that’s been babied since new? Two words; forever alone. If even a Mulsanne will only run you $25k, how memorable is it, really? We can appreciate the fact that it is a Bentley, but it’s really not that great when examined objectively. Besides, who is to say that this SUV won’t be cherished? My little cousin is 8. Maybe in 30 years he will get nostalgic for a Bentley EXP like I do for a Grand Wagoneer.

Jack: I would suggest that the reason people keep Mulsannes is because of the story associated with those cars. The idea of English nobility faithfully clinging to an old “Roller”. It wasn’t really true in 1989, but the Mulsanne felt like it was at least in touch with that story. Ironically, wanting to be part of that story is what brought the rapper, the sheikhs, and the gangsters in. They wanted a touch of the proverbial class – but when the new Mulsanne arrived, the last vestige of that story, of that class, completely disappeared.

You and I are really attending the funeral of the old Bentley, and the EXP is simply the cap laid onto the casket.

Derek: For my two pence, I’d way rather have the new Jag XJL Supersport. That car is so elegant it should be French. The inside is still British. The engine sounds and feels American. It has little touches of rapper aesthetics, like the purple velvet lining of the rear armrest with the cigar cutout. And you can have two of them for the price of a Mulsanne. And they’re owned by Indians rather than the Bosch! In the span of 60 years, they went from homespun cloth to owning one of Britain’s industrial crown jewels!

Jack: You have a point. But the Jaguar, just like the Bentley, isn’t really an English luxury car. It’s someone else’s idea of an English luxury car. What WAS the last true English luxury car? The XJ40? The Silver Seraph?

Derek: Honestly, I’d say the 2005 XJ. It was just like the XJs of old, but it used an aluminum frame and body. There was just one problem. Nobody bought it. Theold-world Jag  faithful were all dead, and those like my Dad or my Uncles, who could afford one, had bad memories of their childhood E-Types, Wollseleys and Vivas never ever working. So they went elsewhere. Lexus, BMW and whatnot. Trying to retain “authenticity” doesn’t work unless you’re Bristol and are willing to tell customers to piss off because you disagree with their vision of a car. When you’re a volume car maker, it doesn’t work. You have to evolve, adapt or get blown out. Even though my Dad had an E39 530i, considered the apex of non-M BMW sedans, he pined for a 2005 XJ Vanden Plas. But he wouldn’t do it. Not even on a lease that ended before the warranty expired.

Jack: Well, there you have it. Here’s to the 2005 Vanden Plas. The last English luxury car. And here’s to the future: an unimaginably crass explosion of Dubai-centric garbage. Not an explosion. Let’s say a landfill. Stretching to the sky. A mountain of garbage. And the only vehicle that can take you to the top of that mountain in style…

Derek: The EXP9

Jack: We really can’t say “Cheers”, can we? How about “Будем здоровы”? That’s “to your health” in Russian, apparently. Here’s to health! To the Russian gangsters! The Arabian oil kings! The African dictators! The guys who rent cars to rappers for videos! To the future! “Будем здоровы”!

Derek: Shukhran, habibi.

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47 Comments on “Geneva 2012: Jack And Derek Discuss The Bentley EXP9 SUV...”


  • avatar
    mjz

    The world’s first FUV.

  • avatar

    Zounds! Yon conveyance is to the Three Litre as the fifth Earl of Cheshire is to the third Duke of Windsor. Old W.O. must be as confused as the wench of Sodaberwick-on-Heaving upon King John Lackland’s exercise of prima noctis.

    I am reborn in snobbery. Thanks, gents!

  • avatar
    jmo

    “And here’s to the future: an unimaginably crass explosion of Dubai-centric garbage. ”

    Bentley has always been, to a large degree, a car for self made men who aren’t afraid to embrace their success. This seems like a car that fits well with that segment of Bentley buyers.

  • avatar

    Just for my own edification, why is a Breitling Bentley watch such a bad thing? I thought Breitling was a perfectly respectable luxury watch brand, and certainly Bentley is a perfectly respectable luxury car brand (at least until now).

    But on a related question, is it so bad that Porsche has the Cayenne and Panamera, and so on? They sell. They help Porsche make real sports cars for you guys, which don’t sell all that well but are the heart and soul of the company. Could Porsche make as good sports cars as they do without the big bucks from the more popular models that do sell?

    D

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “Just for my own edification, why is a Breitling Bentley watch such a bad thing? I thought Breitling was a perfectly respectable luxury watch brand, and certainly Bentley is a perfectly respectable luxury car brand (at least until now).”

      Put it this way: Porsche makes nice cars, and Research in Motion makes nice phones, but the P’9981 Porsche Design BlackBerry is a tacky, overpriced piece of shit that exists solely for the purpose of assuaging the egos of Dubai nighclubbers while sullying the brand equity of both parents.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Like Jack said, quartz, not mechanical guts.

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        Ooh… burn. That’s like having the only 24 karat gold-plated pen at the men’s club that doesn’t have to be refilled from an inkwell…

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        I’m not saying there is something wrong with a quartz watch, I’m saying there is something wrong with a $1,000+ quartz watch.

        Just like there is nothing wrong with an Audi Q7, but there is something wrong with an Audi Q7 with an ugly front end for $200,000.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I’m more curious about the comment regarding the new Mulsanne not carrying on the tradition of the older models.

      To my knowlege it’s the only true Bentley – 6.75 liter V8, near infinite levels of customization available, mostly still hand finished, and designed to link to the past while nodding to the future. What’s wrong with the new Mulsanne?

  • avatar
    jglucker

    That was a fun read.

    I look forward to the day when I’m battling for space on PCH with Kubangs and EXPs.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    HAHA Vulgarity is forever! Finally something even more repulsive then a long Escelade, and snootier than a RR or a Prosche! ANd it is “the king has no clothes” ugly.

    Perfect.

  • avatar
    B.C.

    So you’re telling me wealth and taste aren’t necessarily correlated, and yet another company becomes a caricature of itself to milk more money from its heritage? Aaaand in other news, water is wet, the sky is blue, etc etc.

    (Just kidding, guys. Btw, ++ on Matrix 2/3 and Jar-Jar being anomalous escapees from an alternate universe.)

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      IMO all three prequels are really not part of Star Wars. Methinks George Lucas should’ve bowed out and bought on another director.

      As it stands, I’d prefer that the prequels never existed.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    Vulgarity…

    I suspect that the image of English luxury was built upon the facade of an aristocracy whose wealth was obtained through the spoils of colonial power (and the same applies to other nations whose wealth was also dependent on the spoils of colonialism and other forms of exploitation), a house of cards if ever there was one.

    I also suspect that the vulgarity that is often associated with ‘new money’ is the recognition that these are otherwise rather ordinary people who are driven to distinguish themselves through the same kind of aristocratic pretensions, but who simply haven’t yet had sufficient time or ‘history’ to refine and solidify the axiological and ontotheological demarcations to which they aspire (as expressions of an exaggerated sense of self-importance).

    There’s my rant for the week… Don’t worry, I’m not actually as cynical as this might make it appear (and not all wealthy people are like this. Many are actually good, decent human beings…).

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “the vulgarity that is often associated with ‘new money’”

      I think it’s more that their is no shame or guilt involved, so they feel more free to have fun with it.

      • 0 avatar
        Philosophil

        That may well be true in some cases…

      • 0 avatar
        DeadFlorist

        May be true, but I’m skeptical. Fun implies, well, fun, and less of just pure pecuniary emulation done poorly for lack of experience, unless there is something fun about a fat, blingy SUV that I’m missing.

      • 0 avatar
        koshchei

        No, it’s the irrational need for the arrivistes to splurge on all the things their parents couldn’t afford when they were gutter-fishing with a magnet as a child.

        People of refined sensibility and/or old money wouldn’t be caught dead near one of these abominations. Instead, expect them to be driving an early 80s Volvo 240 wagon or late model Subaru Forester with cloth seats and hand-crank windows. If they could order it without air conditioning or an automatic choke, you can bet that they would.

        Nothing says wealth like an absolutely middle of the line dowdy older car that’s been reasonably well-maintained 20 years beyond the point that a person who works for a living would have gotten rid of it.

  • avatar
    Mark_MB750M

    Jack,

    I was interested in your comment: “Well, to be fair, there’s only $25K between anybody and a Mulsanne. But it’s a commitment to own one. The American Rolls-Royce Owners Club is full of middle-income people who are faithfully extending the lives of the Clouds, Shadows, Spurs, and whatnot. Takes time, effort, and patience. Will anyone, I wonder, bother to save a Bentley SUV once it’s thrown away by its second nouveau owner?”

    I ask because I’m toying with the idea of becoming one of those people myself. Part of it is to have some fun, like driving around in a blue blazer and yachtman’s cap a la Judge Smails with some Grey Poupon in the glove box, but the other part is sincere interest in the vehicles themselves.
    Could you elaborate on the time and effort involved a bit more? Is the regular maintenance more intensive, or rather dealing with cars that are 30-40-50 or more years old?

    Thanks!

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      IIRC the bill for regular maintenance on James May’s Rolls was 6,000 pounds (about $10k).

    • 0 avatar
      dejal1

      When I read “driving around in a blue blazer and yachtman’s cap ” Judge Smails came up in my mind right before I read “a la Judge Smails ”

      I’d actually prefer to go with the Rodney Dangerfield RR though.

      http://www.y o u tube.com/watch?v=171FURqSIQc

      with his attitude.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark_MB750M

        Dejal1 – yes, the Cloud with the Chinese eye conversion is a looker. I love when he drives it right up to the first tee towards the end of the film.

        jmo – What does that bill involve? Maybe I didn’t phase my questons right, but I guess I’m asking what regular maintenance is involved on a RR and at what intervals – and how does that differ from a normal vehicle. And, how much is possible for the owner to do? I mean, could I change the oil by getting a few quarts and a filter at Walmart, or do I need RR specific parts/oil and drain plug removal tool only available from the dealer, for example?

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “jmo – What does that bill involve?”

        It was a ’72 Corniche so I’d imagine a lot of it had to do with the kids of rot (gaskets, seals, hoses, etc.) you’d find afflicting a 30 year old car that is seldom driven.

        I’m not familiar with the Corniche, but if it had points and a carburetor and vacuum or hydraulically powered accessories (seats, wipers, windows, door locks) that’s a lot of hoses and finicky, hard to find parts.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      My pal Berg owns a few of these cars so I will do an article on what’s involved to maintain them.

      Bottom line: parts are expensive but durable.

  • avatar
    dejal1

    The Chinese-made umbrellas????

    WTF.

    I’m not kidding. WTF.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    Great read. The line about pigs paid for it slays me.

    This Bentley, and the truly awful Kubang are bad enough that someone should be dragged out into the street and shot in front of God and everybody.

    The only thing worse will be another Lamborghini SUV, but seems like that’s in the works as well.

    I hope and pray that someday I’ll have the opportunity to pull one of these ugly gobs of poo out of a ditch somewhere with my $4,000 Nissan Pathfinder. And I hope I pee myself laughing while I do it.

  • avatar
    jonny b

    Suggested alternative for potential purchasers of this . . . ummm . . . vehicle: Buy yourself a nice Toyota Tacoma/Hilux. Put a giant sign in the back that reads “I’m very very wealthy. Trust me”. Maybe invest a few bucks in getting the sign to light up or flash. This will be way classier than the EXP9. Trust me.

    • 0 avatar
      another_pleb

      If you are really wealthy, people come to you. You never actually need to leave the house.

      If you really want to visit the top of a hill or the middle of a forest, fly there in one of your helicopters.

  • avatar
    Oren Weizman

    cars were sold, dicks were sucked and at the end of the day, Bentley built a giant mini cooper.

  • avatar
    replica

    In one of the pictures, it appears Danny DeVito is looking at the interior.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    Jack said, “Once upon a time, Rolls-Royce and Bentley made vehicles for English gentlemen. The aesthetic of the vehicles reflected this, unless you’re talking about the Camargue. Bottom line, though, if people who were NOT the target market wanted to buy them, they at least had to take a fairly tasteful and reasonable car.”

    There’s probably little difference in taste between the parvenus and the settled gentry who buy RRs and Bentleys. They both appreciate the value of ostentation. For the old money, the solution to this quandary — the likelihood of, sooner or later, being mistaken for nouveau riche — is found in bespoke but aesthetically-null vehicles like the Bristol. Or Hesketh, the two-wheeled Bristol.

    And I happen to like the Camargue.

  • avatar

    And you 2 pottery buddies could call it: “El Burj Babil Al Garbajzh”.

    +Get Adrian Smith on design.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    now I can finally enjoy the prequel trilogy without feeling quilty. The QX56 has met its match…

  • avatar
    John

    You know what would make me happy? If Les Claypool bought one of those, put 44″ boggers on it, and went muddin.

  • avatar
    Toad

    “…like my Dad or my Uncles, who could afford one, had bad memories of their childhood E-Types, Wollseleys and Vivas never ever working. So they went elsewhere. Lexus, BMW and whatnot.”

    Maybe vulgarity and crassness is talking about the wealth and ostentation of your parents and family, at least once you are out of high school. Bragging about wealth you earned yourself is (barely) tolerable, but offhand comments about dad’s high end wheels is a little…small.

    Jack, you should have straightened the boy out.

  • avatar
    Nick

    ‘Hi, is this Bentley? What’s your fax number? I want to send you a definition of brand equity.’

    Seriously though, that’s at 2x as ugly as another other SUV on the road, and that includes the new QX56.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    “I figured it was a Phaeton with a Mulsanne front end grafted onto it. I mean, the Porsche PanArabia showed that you can make a car from a truck. Why not make a truck from a car? What’s the platform beneath? Do we know?”

    The Panamera has its own platform with a setback engine, but this thing will most likely be based on the PL71 platform like the Q7/Toureg/Cayenne. My understanding is that platform is a modified version of the D1 platform used for the Phaeton/Continental. This is basically a pimped, ugly Audi Q7. How do I know? Look how little fender there is between the front wheel and leading edge of the front door. This is definitely using the VW AWD system with the engine block entirely in front of the front axle.

    The first generation Ford EXP was awesome, it does not deserve to be compared with this pimped VW (VW pimping its platforms into Bentleys makes the “un-pimp” campaign kind of ironic).

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Since I don’t want this tarnishing the name of the Ford EXP, I am going to refer to this as the Bentley Crossover Utility Not Truck. It’s a bit of a mouthful, so an acronym is probably in order. The acronym has a nice British ring to it.

  • avatar

    It seems you equate taste with wishing the world was as it was roughly 40 years ago.

    A more sophisticated approach than dismissing everything new or built by previously undignified peoples as vulgar may be in order.

  • avatar
    Robert Gordon

    Woolfe Banarto wasn’t a South African Jewish diamond prospector. His father was an English Jewish prospector though, Woolfe pretty much lived off the proceeds in the form of a trust inheritence when his dad died when Woolfe was an infant.

    Furthermore Woolfe was very much part of the English upper class having been educated at Charterhouse (which as any ‘fule kno’ is every bit the equal in prestige as Eton or Harrow – alleged sheep proclivities aside) and at Trinity College – Cambridge, which as it happens is the poshest of them all and also the very same college which three out of four of the ‘Cambridge Four’ spies attended (Donald McLean went to decidedly second-rate Trinity Hall). Magdelene College by contrast is much more progressive being the birthplace of the abolitionist movement and the alma mater of Cambridge’s University’s first Jewish student.

    With respect to the vulgarity of Bentleys and Rolls Royces – don’t kid yourself that good taste has ever been a inherent feature in these marques – some of the most ostentatious and ghastly vehicles every created have borne the spirit of ecstasy or the winged ‘B’, Henry Royce himself was no upper class snob either. I therefore suspect the pig story is most likely bollocks – for goodness sake early Rolls Royces were built as WW1 troop transports!

  • avatar
    WriterParty.com

    The idea that Bentleys were for old money is just as much a myth as the old German restraint or Italian design. What is old money but people who are rich for no reason playing the world’s grandest game of dress up and make believe? Bentley is a business, and like all good businesses, their goal is to make sales and turn a profit.

  • avatar
    300zx_guy

    “I’m not saying there is something wrong with a quartz watch, I’m saying there is something wrong with a $1,000+ quartz watch.”

    what’s wrong with a fine quartz watch? While there’s something fascinating about a high quality automatic watch movement, there’s something to be said for a nice watch that you don’t have to leave on a winder if you’re not going to wear it everyday. Or bring in for service every few years to keep it in top working order. Most of the price of an expensive quartz watch pays for the design, materials and craftsmanship; nothing wrong with paying for that, so long as you know what you’re paying for. Just saying.


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