The Truth About Cars » Bentley The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:00:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Bentley Jaguar Land Rover Recruiting Former British Military Personnel For Apprenticeships Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:00:51 +0000 2015-Jaguar-XFR-S-Sportbrake-01

With as many as 6,500 about to be made redundant in British military, and employers facing a skill shortage that hasn’t been seen since 1997, Jaguar Land Rover is leading the way to help former personnel gain the skills needed to compete in the civilian workplace.

Automotive News reports the Anglo-Indian automaker, along with Ford and Bentley, has developed an apprenticeship program aimed at so-called early leavers — those who served in the military for less than three years — meant to prepare them “for work in the automotive industry and to help them develop the skills that they need to apply to the recruitment process” within the company or inside the industry as a whole, according to Jaguar community officer Kate Birkenhead.

Programs such as this are becoming popular in every industry, thanks to an expanded budget of £765 million ($1.3 billion USD) for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills under Prime Minister David Cameron. In turn, 510,000 apprenticeships began between 2012 and 2013, though more will be needed to satisfy industrial and economic growth by 2020, according to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Aside from JLR, Ford and Bentley are establishing their own programs to help ready those seeking a career in the automotive industry, especially when 2 million vehicles might roll off the line in 2017, breaking the previous record set in 1972. Ford is building a training center in Daventry, where the Ford Masters Apprenticeship will be hosted, while Bentley aims to open a technical college with the help of Manchester Metropolitan University and Siemens AG by 2016.

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Crapwagon Outtake: Bentley Already Made An SUV Fri, 13 Jun 2014 15:13:24 +0000 bentley.dominator.3

Our friends at have spyshots of the new Bentley SUV running around rather inconspicuously – a rather poetic notion, given that this thing is sure to be the face of vulgarity for the next decade. But contrary to many breathless reports on other sites, this is not Bentley’s first SUV. 


In 1996, Bentley made 6 bespoke SUVs for the Royal Family of Brunei. Yes, you read that right. At a cost of nearly 3 million GBP each, Bentley used a Range Rover chassis as the basis for these (sort of) one-of-a-kind SUVs, dubbed the Dominator. Very little is known about them, aside from the bootlegged pics of the Dominator being loaded onto a plane for air freight to Brunei.


Similar to the bespoke Ferraris made for the Sultan, the Dominator doesn’t quite count as part of the annals of official Bentley history. But these cars were indeed made by Bentley, baring Bentley VIN numbers – and they weren’t the only ones. When you’re as wealthy as the Sultan, you can pay Bentley, Ferrari or any other OEM to build custom cars for you. Not just custom trim and color combos, but actual designs and road-going concept cars. And yes, he did ask for a series of Bentley wagons to be built. Sadly, none appear to be brown.

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Volkswagen To Triple SUV Lineup In Fight Against Toyota For Total Global Sales Wed, 04 Jun 2014 11:00:24 +0000 Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept-02

With Toyota still in its sights, Volkswagen plans to triple the number of SUVs in its lineup in its fight for the top sales podium among the Global Three.

Bloomberg reports the current offerings — the midsize Touareg and compact Tiguan — will soon be joined by the upcoming seven-passenger CrossBlue-based SUV that will either be assembled in Mexico or Tennessee, coupe and long-wheelbase versions of the Tiguan, the Touareg and a subcompact based on either the Taigun or T-ROC concepts. The strategy would provide VW with the opportunity to meet Toyota across the latter’s range on its way to beat the Japanese automaker in global deliveries by 2018, and would build brand strength in the United States and emerging markets such as China.

Meanwhile, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche are also moving further into the SUV market, ranging from the Cayenne and new Macan — both of which are expected to account for 64 percent of all Porsche sales by next year, according to IHS Automotive — to the Q1 in 2016 and Urus in 2017. The overall game would net Volkswagen an operating profit boost over 6 percent of sales over the current rate of 2.9 percent, as SUVs are considered to be more profitable than other vehicles.

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2014 Beijing Auto Show: Bentley Mulsanne Hybrid Concept Mon, 21 Apr 2014 17:00:17 +0000 8891934141642831684

While the notion of a hybrid car that features a 6.75 liter internal combustion engine might seem a bit oxymoronic to some, rich folks like to demonstrate their environmental bona fides as much as anyone. With so many supercars like the Porsche 918 or the McLaren P1 featuring hybrid powertrains that combine green cred with mind-boggling amounts of total power and torque, high end hybrids have become the automotive version of eating your cake and having it too. Bentley’s new plug in hybrid concept is based on their Mulsanne flagship and they’re featuring it at the 2014 Beijing auto show. It manages to reduce CO2 output by 70% while increasing power by 25% and has a battery-only range of 31 miles (50 km).


It must be some kind of rule in the automotive world that says that hybrid cars must be visually different from their conventionally powered platform siblings. Bentley does it with copper. On the outside, the character lines, headlamps, radiator shell bezel, badges and brake calipers all get some copper plating and on the inside copper has been applied to the switch bezels, instruments and veneer fascias. Also copper colored is the contrasting baseball style cross-stitching on the Mulliner Driving Specification upholstery, a welcome change from the near-ubiquitous French stitching one finds on leather car upholstery these days.

The latest interior styling trend, quilted leather and what may be the next trend, contrasting cross-stitching.

The latest interior styling trend, quilted leather and what may be the next trend, the contrasting cross-stitching on the armrest.

It’s not entirely clear what the production plans are for the Mulsanne hybrid. Bentley has already announced that its plug in hybrid system will be offered initially in 2017 on the SUV that the company plans to bring to the market in 2016. Since Bentley’s chairman, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber has said that by 2020 at least 90% of Bentley’s production will be available as plug in hybrids, once their first hybrid goes on sale, expect hybrid versions of other Bentleys to follow in rapid order.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Bentley Teases Us With A BRIC Of An SUV Fri, 21 Mar 2014 12:45:36 +0000 bentleysuv


Bentley has released a teaser of its new SUV, which looks to be fairly toned down compared to the EXP 9 concept. The EXP 9, as you may remember, was the last word in tastelessness, a great signal that you just liquidated your offshore account ahead of looming international sanctions.

All snark aside, the upcoming SUV will break new ground in the market, by providing buyers with an SUV positioned above the Range Rover, which is arguably the apex luxury off-roader. Bentley will leverage the same architecture as the Audi Q7, and is looking to sell about 3,500 units (similar volume to the Continental GT and Flying Spur) at a price of roughly $230,000 – there should be plenty of margin baked into the car itself, and maybe, just maybe, they won’t have to sell co-branded Breitlings anymore.

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Bentley’s $640 Embroidered Logos Emblematic of High Priced Options From Luxury Marques Thu, 14 Nov 2013 19:00:08 +0000 2013_Bentley_Continental GT V8_18486_11

Is that logo worth $160?

Far be it from me to criticize others for trying to leverage profit. I like capitalism, so charging rich folks ridiculous amounts of money for trifles only the hoi oligoi can afford is just ducky with me. Some years ago (you can figure out when from the prices) I remember reading an automotive column at the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal which said that when you’re buying an expensive German car, a S-Klasse Mercedes Benz or a BMW 7 Series, you have to be careful when checking off items on the options list, because you can easily turn a $80,000 car into one nicely into the six figures. My thought at the time was that not many folks were scrimping to make the payments on an S or 7 and that if you could genuinely afford spending 80 grand on a car, you could probably swing the payments on one costing 25 or 30 percent more. Still, the prices that companies like Porsche and Ferrari charge for some of their optional features are worthy of note, and possibly mockery for the seller and buyers as well. Well, you can put Terry Southern’s Magic Christion on the DVD player or  cue up Badfinger’s Come And Get It, because today we’re going to look at how some fools part with their money, sonny.

Now and then you read something and you actually have some knowledge of the topic. My day job is running a one-man custom machine embroidery shop and a lot of the work that I do is for car and motorcycle enthusiasts and clubs. I regularly embroider leather and I’ve worked on some upholstery, so while reading the Autoextremist’s review of a 2014 Bentley Flying Spur that had almost $40,000 worth of options added to a $200K base price, it caught my eye that part of that forty thousand dollars was $640 for “Emblem stitching”, embroidering the winged Bentley logo on the seat headrests. By my estimation, Bentley charging $640 for embellishing the four headrests with the company logo has a profit margin of greater than 96% (assuming their embroidery equipment is already paid for). Nice work if you can get it.

For $640, I'd embroidery the entire car on jackets for you and a passenger, with matching baseball caps. Jacket: Reed Sportswear.

For $640, I’d probably embroider the entire car on jackets for you and a passenger, with matching baseball caps, maybe for three people even. Jacket: Reed Sportswear.

To give you some perspective, I was once asked by the owner of a 1978 Corvette if I could embroider the ‘Vette’s 25th Anniversary logo on the new leather seat covers he was putting in the car. I think that I charged him $75, most of it for digitizing the logo into an embroidery design, a one time fee, and since I was working on an already constructed item and needed to take special steps to be able to get it hooped and on the machine I charged a lot more for the actual stitching than I would normally charge for just embroidering a flat, blank piece of leather. Assuming I already had the design digitized, if someone gave me a piece of leather and asked me to embroider something with a stitch count similar to that of the Bentley logo, for one item I’d charge no more than $15 and for quantity contract work $5 or less, including labor and profit. The equipment isn’t cheap, a modern, single head embroidery machine today runs maybe $12,000-$15,000 new, but that’s peanuts compared to most of the machinery in Bentley’s Crewe factory. Even used in limited production, at $160 a logo, embroidery equipment gets amortized pretty quickly. Also, a logo like that takes only minutes to stitch, so labor costs for someone to operate and watch the machine are minimal. Bentley is charging $640 for about $20 worth of embroidery. Of course, if they have to match a customer’s request for a specific color thread, costs do go up. A 5000 meter spool of embroidery thread, good for hundreds, maybe thousands, of logos, costs about $7.

As I said at the outset, I don’t have a problem with making a profit and I certainly don’t object to charging people to put logos on things, since that’s what I do, but for 640 bucks, I’d not only embroider your logo on the leather for a carfull of of headrests, I’d put the logo and a detailed embroidery of the car itself on a couple of made in the U.S.A. matching Nappa leather jackets, jacket price included. I guess I have to figure out how to market my embroidery services to Bentley buyers.

Ronnie Schreiber edits  Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading. RJS

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Rolls-Royce “Intensively Thinking About” Selling An SUV Thu, 12 Sep 2013 12:00:02 +0000 rollroycesuvchop1

Illustration by Garrett Bradford. All rights reserved, used with permission.

No sooner did Bentley confirm that they will indeed be producing a premium priced crossover, then Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes announced that they will join the other British ultra luxury marque in offering a utility vehicle, likely to cost even more than the Bentley, which is expected to start at about $250,000.

The least expensive Rolls-Royce, the BMW 7 Series based Ghost, starts at more than that price. BMW owns Rolls-Royce while another German automaker, Volkswagen, owns Bentley. “We are intensively thinking about entering the SUV segment,” Mueller-Oetvoes told Bloomberg in an interview at the Frankfurt auto show. “The SUV segment is very interesting. It has been incredibly stable during the crisis, and I think a luxury niche will develop.”

Crossover frenzy seems to be gripping the auto industry at all price points, including among luxury brands. The Rolls-Royce announcement follows previous news that Maserati would sell the Levante SUV starting in 2015 and CUV concept reveals at the Frankfurt Motor Show by both Jaguar and Infiniti.


Illustration by Garrett Bradford. All rights reserved, used with permission.


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Bentley Greenlights Quarter Million Dollar Crossover Wed, 11 Sep 2013 18:27:37 +0000 bentley_exp_9_f_suv_design_concept_1-580x388

With Jaguar, Infiiniti and other manufacturers eyeing the booming segment of entry level luxury crossovers, Bentley is creating a new segment at the other end of the luxury spectrum. Bentley has greenlit for production a $250,000 premium crossover utility vehicle that will be based on a Volkswagen Group platform shared with the next generation Audi Q7 and a proposed CUV from Lamborghini, shown as the Urus concept.

VW Group has been fairly adept at slicing their luxury wurst carefully so that its premium brands don’t directly compete with each other, so the Lamborghini CUV is likely to slot in below the Bentley in price. The new Bentely CUV, expected by some to wear the name Falcon, will likely go on sale in 2016. Though roughly based on the EXP 9 F concept, Bentley says that there will be significant changes in the production version. The EXP 9 F, pictured above, was widely criticized for its styling.

While the Automotive News story on the new Bentley CUV says, “In the future, new and redesigned Bentley vehicles will share platforms and engines with other Volkswagen Group brands,” that’s not a new situation since the Bentley Continental models already share a platform with the Audi A8 and the VW Phaeton. Bentley currently uses brand specific engines but they are all VW Group designs built in a VW Group factory.

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Megamos Crypto Is Broken And Your Bentley Is Gonna Get Ganked Sun, 28 Jul 2013 19:29:50 +0000 Screen shot 2013-07-28 at 3.13.13 PM

The English High Court is trying to stop it, but it’s hard to know how much authority they have over the upcoming USENIX Security Symposium. If, as I suspect, the answer is “None”, then attendees to that event will be treated to a presentation on how to break the Megamos Crypto system, the RFID-based immobiliser that prevents counterfeit and physically-copied keys, to say nothing of plain old “hot-wiring” at the ignition switch, from starting the Bentley Continental GT that, apparently, uses it.

Of course, some of you will have already considered that if the system is in use in the CGT, it’s in use in the Phaeton, and probably the Touraeg, as well. You’re right, and there are far more cars at risk than just those.

A brief bit of research suggests that every VW Group product made since circa 2001 or even earlier uses the Megamos Crypto system. Porsches may also be involved. A real-world implementation of the hack that will be demonstrated at USENIX could theoretically be launched from near the car; once it’s done its thing, any car thief should be able to do the whole “gone in 60 seconds” business with it. There’s apparently a well-distributed hack that allows BMWs to be started and stolen once access to the OBD-II port is gained, so in this manner at least Audi is doing a solid job of catching up to the Bavarian market leaders.

While the British High Court might still be naive enough in 2013 to think that this kind of knowledge can be suppressed by legal fiat, the rest of us out there might want to take some advice from Antoine Dodson: Hide your Audi, hide your Gallardo, ’cause they’re stealing every one out there!

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Bentley Confirms SUV, Built at Crewe, for 2016 Wed, 24 Jul 2013 12:30:58 +0000 2141698251913573409

Bentley Motors today has confirmed that a fourth model will join the Bentley lineup, this one a SUV, and that it will be built at the British luxury car maker’s Crewe plant starting in 2016 after a £800 million ($1.228 B USD) investment in the facility. The automaker says that over 1,000 new jobs will be created to manufacture the unnamed SUV, which is said to look nothing like the widely criticized EXP 9F concept shown last year. A very basic sketch of the planned vehicle was also released. The company said that Bentley customers have responded “extremely” positively to the idea of a SUV that wears the winged B and claims that the car will be “a thoroughbred Bentley” and have styling that sets “it apart from any other SUV on the road”. Like the company’s Continental models which are related to the Audi A8 and Volkswagen Phaeton, though, the new Bentley SUV will likely share a platform and components with other VAG vehicles.

Bentley press release below.


-Fourth model line to be built in Crewe
-Sales will begin in 2016
-Over 1,000 UK jobs created
-New model will be true to Bentley’s brand hallmarks
-Extremely positive customer response to an SUV by Bentley

(Crewe, 23 July 2013). Bentley Motors today confirms that it will proceed with the development of the Bentley SUV, the company’s fourth model line. The SUV will be made in Crewe and will go on sale in 2016. It will create over 1000 jobs in the UK. Over the next three years Bentley will invest more than £800 million in its headquarters at Crewe and the development of new models.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who was present together with Dr Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Volkswagen Group for the announcement at Bentley headquarters in Crewe, said: “This £800 million investment and a thousand new jobs from Bentley is fantastic news for both Crewe and for the UK as a whole. It is another important milestone in strengthening our economy.

“One sector that we know is sprinting ahead in the global race is our booming automotive industry. One vehicle rolls off a production line somewhere in the UK every 20 seconds and we have just launched the Government’s Automotive Industrial Strategy to help continue this success for years to come.

“I am delighted that Bentley will be building their new vehicle here, not only creating a thousand jobs, but safeguarding many more, as well as increasing training opportunities for highly skilled apprentices.”

Dr Winterkorn said: “The Volkswagen Group believes in the UK as a competitive location for industrial production. Bentley fans all around the world are looking forward to the brand’s first SUV. Together we will make this new Bentley another true Bentley – powerful, exclusive and successful.”

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “This is a welcome commitment to the UK from a major international car maker. Our automotive industrial strategy proves this government’s commitment to working with world-class companies like Bentley to create jobs and promote exports.

“Bentley was the first firm I visited as a government minister and serves as a real example of high value manufacturing. They export more than four out of every five cars they make in the UK to the rest of the world.”

Bentley’s Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, added: “This is excellent news for Bentley and for the UK. Bentley is increasingly successful and this new fourth model line will leverage the success of the global SUV market. The support of everyone involved with the Company has been fundamental to this decision, which will ensure sustainable growth for the company.”

The SUV will be a thoroughbred Bentley true to the brand hallmarks of luxury, performance, quality and craftsmanship. The styling will set it apart from any other SUV on the road and will be true to the Bentley design DNA. It will be the most luxurious and most powerful SUV in the market. The response from customers to a Bentley SUV has been extremely positive in the last 16 months.

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Lamborghini Urus To Bow In 2017 Mon, 13 May 2013 11:30:36 +0000 lamborghini_urus_3-580x384-550x364

BRIC nation plutocrats, start saving your rubles and rupees. Lamborghini’s vulgar Urus SUV is set to bow in 2017, according to a report by Car and Driver, giving the new global elite a successor to the iconic LM002.

C/D reports that the Urus will bow after the upcoming Bentley SUV, with a sticker price between $150,000 and $2000,000. Power will come from Audi’s 4.0L twin-turbo V8. While the LM002 provides Lambo with some precedent to offer an SUV, Jack Baruth has brilliantly argued that the introduction of the Urus heralds the end of the brand’s reputation as the last word in unchecked hypermasculine antisocial motoring. Or perhaps, the start of it, depending on your tastes.

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Bentley SUV, Imported From Bratislava Tue, 19 Mar 2013 15:26:24 +0000

As the Bentley SUV continues its inevitable march towards production, the latest news from Bentley itself is that the SUV won’t be built in its famed Crewe, England factory, but in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Apparently, VW’s board may demand that production take place in Bratsilava, where vehicles like the Volkswagen Touraeg are built. While Eastern European factories have long proven their ability to produce reliable, high-quality vehicles, it would be a huge departure for Bentley. And of course, it all comes down to money.

In a stunning expropriation of today’s environmentally friendly vernacular, Bentley chief Wolfgang Schreiber told Autocar

“We want to build sustainable cars that make money, but we have the components and the craftsmanship skills in Crewe.”

In this case, “sustainable” has nothing to do with polar bears or rainforests, but simply “making a lot of profit off of a Touraeg” by building it in a low-cost country. So how would VW get around this?

If the model were to be built in Bratislava, it would be the first Bentley sold without the famed ‘Made in Crewe, England’ plaque since some examples of the Flying Spur were built in Dresden in 2005/06. Instead, a ‘Designed in Crewe, England’ plaque would likely feature.

Rather than trot out the usual backward-looking tropes about “heritage” and “brand values”, let’s recognize that we’re in a different era, and any honor associated with the Bentley brand went out the window when they produced those ghastly Breitling Bentley watches. Instead, let’s applaud Bentley and the VW Group for the absolutely predatory cynicism involved here. They know they can make a very profitable vehicle (a high margin ultra-luxury SUV) even more profitable by building it in Slovakia, because the nouveau riche of the BRIC Countries – and America, for that matter, will not give a lick as to its country of origin. Bravo!

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Monday Mileage Midget: Vecchio Combustible Paradisio! Mon, 25 Feb 2013 13:00:10 +0000

Today’s edition of Monday Mileage Midget is brought to you by the state of Florida.

Palm trees. Retirement communities. Traffic signals and double yellow lines that are treated as mere suggestions. Florida has become an economic juggernaut thanks in large part to cheap housing, plenty of sunshine, and legal loopholes that allow well deserving retirees and unethical douchebags to live on the cheap.

There is one other unusual reality benefit of living in Florida… low mileage cars.


Here we have a 2008 Mercury Grand Marquis GS with only 3,289 miles.

I love the interior on this one. It just screams out, “Road trip!” with those large cupholders and the virtually untouched seats.

And here we have a 2001 Mercury Grand Marquis GS with only 10,702 miles. Pardon the sun glint but I’m not the one taking these pictures.

Finally, if you are willing to go a bit beyond the usual automotive blue plate specials, there is…

A 2005 Honda Pilot EX with AWD and 15k miles.

A loaded up for 1994, Ford Ranger STX. ABS, Cruise, 5-Speed, Ice Cold Air, AM/FM Radio with the all too essential cassette deck and alloy wheels. A ride that may have cost less out the door in 2009 than it did back in 1994. This one has 22,375 original miles.

Finally, if you find yourself owning a lifetime supply of Grey Poupon and houndstooth sportcoats, you can buy yourself one of these.

A 1997 Bentley Brooklands. Gorgeous. 30,021 miles. Need I say more?

Well, if I must. This may have been one of the last old school designs that you could get before bulbous bling started to take over. The difference between the Bentley Brooklands of 1997…

and the Bentley Brooklands of 2008

is a classic representation of how elegance in automotive design gave way to gaudiness. The most recent generations of the Grand Marquis and the Pilot represent much of the same. Well earned prestige, that ended up completely subverted by those who thought the protruding plasticidity of Escalades and fingernail thin chrome treatments would be the way of the future.

Mark my words. The 1997 Brooklands will be a classic for all the right reasons. The 2008 model won’t be nearly as well received when it comes time for tomorrow’s classic car shows. It may be a hot auction commodity by then. But only because they sold so few of them.

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NAIAS 2013: Hashtags Abound Mon, 14 Jan 2013 14:24:40 +0000 20130114-092656.jpg

Why does this Bentley have a hashtag on the license plate? Maybe this will become a new trend in locales where license plates can fetch millions of dollars…which also happen to be big markets for ultra-luxury brands.

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The Positive Side Of The EU Malaise: No Urus Thu, 11 Oct 2012 13:35:48 +0000

There is a GOD: With Europe paying a lot of penance for its sins, we might be spared hell in form of a Lamborghini and Bentley SUV. In order to save cash for Volkswagen, the company may put the Lamborghini Urus and the Bentley SUV, codenamed  EXP9F, on ice, Reuters says.

The decision will come on November 23, when the Supervisory Board reviews planned spending on equipment, factories and vehicles. In crisis times, extravagant projects are first to go.

The show-off SUVs won’t bring much to the bottom line, says a study of IHS Automotive.

The forecast sees the Bentley SUV peak at fewer than 4,000 cars in 2016, while the Lamborghini Urus could reach a maximum of fewer than 2,400 in 2018. Lamborghini especially needs to keep a low profile. The brand never made money since bought by Volkswagen. It is considered a boardroom toy, and its sole reason for being is that the Volkswagen board has Bugatti, and the Audi board wanted a toy of their own.

It the Paris auto show, Volkswagen CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch signaled the possibility of further austerity measures:

“In this environment, we need to have a considerable amount of liquidity available. It’s normal that one looks for items that aren’t imperative.”


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This Rolls Is Not. Let’s Hope The Girls Are Tue, 11 Sep 2012 10:18:42 +0000 In the olden days, when a Bentley was a rebadged Rolls Royce (or vice versa), it was easy to mistake one for the other. Bentley cleverly leveraged its “smart shopper” image into sales that were an order of magnitude higher than those of Rolls. Ever since Volkswagen forgot to check the trademark files, and subsequently lost Rolls to BMW while keeping Bentley (to still much bigger success), those days are over, and the respective overlords in Wolfsburg and Munich get alarmed if there is any confusion. The news still haven’t reached Indonesia, or so it seems.

The Indonesian Kompas newspaper reported about “exploding sales” of Rolls Royce in Asia. And then, the Jakarta paper that prides itself of its “high-quality writing and investigative journalism” showed a picture of the Bentley Mulsanne, surrounded by eight gold-lamed and well-heeled Asian beauties.

The translated caption says “Rolls-Royce surrounded by pretty girls.” Half true at best. While the pictured presumptive Rolls definitely is a Bentley, we hope that all the girls are in fact girls. The story is datelined Bangkok, Thailand, can’t be careful enough.

Tip of the blangkon to Petrus

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Bentley To Kill The 6.75L V8 Thu, 16 Aug 2012 18:21:47 +0000

Bentley is set to kill off its iconic 6.75L turbocharged V8 – and this time it’s for good.

Back around the turn of the millenium, Bentley debuted their new Arnage with a BMW-derived V8 engine. That didn’t go over well with the Bentley faithful, forcing the company to brand it as the “Green Label”, and then re-introduce the six-and-three-quarters V8 as the “Red Label”, the Bentley of choice for true pimps and scoundrels.

Going forward, Bentley will be pushed towards 12-cylinder engines, and having a V8 flagship doesn’t quite fit with that message. Volkswagen can push whatever message they want as far as we’re concerned; the one true Bentley is the one pictured above.

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Avoidable Contact: Hey Hey, Ho Ho, The Donkinental’s Got To Go Tue, 17 Jul 2012 14:00:19 +0000

I don’t think anybody else in automotive journalism can make this claim: I’ve put in nearly 37,000 miles behind the wheel of a Bentley Continental GT, in places as disparate as New York City’s West 48th Street (home of Rudy’s Music), the rural roads of northern Kentucky, and the Climbing Esses at Virginia International Raceway. Forget a lead-follow press event or the rich-for-a-week-wannabe experience of a loaner car: every mile I spent behind the Bentley’s wheel was at my own expense.

Of course, I’m speaking literally here: I’d actually purchased the piano-black-wood-rimmed steering wheel from a Continental GT and installed it, along with a set of Bentley paddle shifters, into my 2006 VW Phaeton V8. When I finally got around to driving the real thing, I couldn’t believe how close the driving experience of the $190,000-plus Bentley was to that of the $68,000 Volkswagen. “This car,” I thought at the time, “is a Phaeton for idiots, which is really saying something.”

Five years later, the Continental GT is still a Phaeton for idiots, except now it’s an old Phaeton for idiots. Old, tired, and showing no signs of life despite a twin-turbo-V-8 heart transplant. It’s time to pull the plug on a car that never even deserved to be called a Bentley in the first place.

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “This is just another unnecessarily bitter rant from ol’ JB. How is this car any less deserving of the Bentley name than any of the radiator-grille-jobs of the Sixties, Seventies, or Eighties?” Well, let’s start by looking at the famous “ticking clock” advertisement, shall we?

I call your attention to sales point #13:

The Bentley is made by Rolls-Royce. Except for the radiators, they are identical motor cars, manufactured by the same engineers in the same works. People who feel diffident about driving a Rolls-Royce can buy a Bentley.

Other versions of the same advertisement noted that the Bentley was slightly less expensive than the $13,995 price of the Rolls-Royce, since the radiator shell was easier to construct. Conventional wisdom tells that this “badge-engineered era”, which lasted until the arrival of the Bentley Mulsanne Turbo in 1982, was the low point in the brand’s history. The people giving you that conventional wisdom have never had to watch Paris Hilton deliberately flash her insufficiently-radiation-proof underpants at a crowd of photographers as she gracelessly unlimbers herself from a quilted-upholstery Conti GT. More to the point, they are wrong.

During the badge-engineered years, the Bentley was the most sublime and desirable vehicle in the world. Why? It’s simple. It was the Rolls-Royce for people who were confident enough to not require the Flying Lady up front. A late Sixties Bentley T1, an outstanding example of which I had the chance to drive a few years ago, was probably the most tasteful luxury car to be built since the ’61 Lincoln Continental and it certainly hasn’t faced much competition in that quarter during the decades between then and now. Car and Driver’s infamous characterization of the Silver Shadow and its descendants as “really bad Town Cars” didn’t hold water when they wrote it and it doesn’t hold water now.

With the arrival of the Turbo engine, the Mulsanne and its descendants became rapid as well as tasteful. The sublime Continental R added bespoke coachwork to the mix. Finally, Bentley created a true modern successor to the “Bentley Boys” conveyances: the brutish, voluptuous, purposeful Continental T.

The company also supplied the Azure convertible and Continental SC T-top coupes, but you can ignore them and just look at the Continental T, which is one of the finest motorcars ever built, period, point blank. Shall I explain why? If you insist:

  • It was bespoke. The chassis and bodywork were derived from the Rolls-Royce but they were perfectly tailored around the short-wheelbase, flared-fender concept.
  • It was masculine. A Bentley is a man’s car. Sorry about that: it just is. The Continental fits the bill, being unsubtle and vicious without resorting to a Trans Am’s worth of trailer-park visual aggression.
  • It was authentic. Our own Derek Kriendler will slap me around for using the much-derided word, but the Conti-T was authentic. It was built and engineered by Englishmen in the Rolls-Royce Crewe works, using an engine which was steeped in Rolls-Royce history and finished using an absurd amount of hand labor.
  • It was rapid. I don’t mean fast. Fast is a crass phrase used to describe how well a Nissan GT-R circumnavigates the Burgerkingring under ideal conditions with brand-new tires and the boost cranked to fruit-fly life expectancy. Rapid means the owner/driver of a Bentley arrives quickly at his destination and has the power to execute two-lane passes or freeway sound-barrier runs at will.

Most critically, the Continental T didn’t depend on the Bentley “brand”. It would have been a kick-ass, hugely desirable vehicle with the Bristol, or Aston, or Triumph, or Ford badge affixed to the front. It didn’t require all that accessorized crap about “lifestyle” to be a great car. It simply was a great car.

What replaced it? The Continental GT, which was far from a great car. To begin with, it was styled to look like nothing in particular. It wasn’t even styled to look like what it was, which was a giant Volkswagen. The designer, Dirk van Braeckel, tried to make a front-wheel-drive sedan look like a rear-wheel-drive coupe, and the result was this horrifying mishmash that looked quite a bit like that one frog-eyed Celica you occasionally see outside strip clubs in the daytime. It was easily the least tasteful Bentley in company history up to that point, but since then Mr. van Braeckel has inflicted the Mulsanne on the public. The Mulsanne looks like nothing so much as as the pale, distended monsters seen at the bottom of the ocean by James Cameron’s deep-sea submarine, casting their enormous, bulbous eyes around in different directions while their nightmarishly unhinged jaws yawn open in the search for blind, wiggling prey.

The CGT’s bizarre proportions required huge wheels, and those huge wheels feel like anchors holding the Bentley to the ground whenever a directional change is required. The base Euro-market VR6 Phaeton steers and rides better than the Bentley, at a quarter of the cost.

Where is that 300% markup over the Phaeton returned to the customer? I figure it works like this: about 25% for the twin-turbo W-12 (or, now, poverty-spec twin-turbo V-8), about 50% for the interior upgrades, and 225% because the VW Group believes you’re stupid enough to pay it. The Bentley has a nice interior — as long as you ignore the fact that all the “hard points”, from the location of the vents to the positioning of the chrome-ringed radio power switch, are cribbed straight from the VW. Oddly enough, the Audi A8, which was developed concurrently with the VW/Bentley twins, got its own architecture both inside and out, and as a result is probably the nicest of the three.

It should also be noted that the Continental GT’s luxury appointments are, by and large, made by anonymous suppliers and trucked to the assembly points in Crewe and Dresden. Oh yes, Dresden. The infamous Transparent Factory made Flying Spurs, which are four-door CGTs, whenever demand exceeded Crewe’s ability to supply. It’s really all plastic in there, although some of the plastic is very convincing and there’s a thin veneer of expensive wood laid on top on parts of it. Plastic parts, made by suppliers right around the corner from the places where that one movie “Hostel” supposedly took place.

Needless to say, the words “Bratislava” or “Dresden production” never appeared in marketing materials for the Continental GT. With each revision, the car becomes more cod-British, adding words like “Speed” or “Specification” or “Works”. Simply no expense is spared, my good man, to confuse the fact that this car is an old Volkswagen wearing a funny hat.

Whom does it fool? Certainly not the old Bentley buyers, if any of them are still alive and solvent. The Conti’s appointed role as My First Bentley makes it prime meat for all those loathsome people one sees on TMZ or the various English As A Second Language exotic-car forums. None of these people care about the engineering of the W-12 engine or the considerable ability of the all-wheel-drive system. They like the fact that it costs $175,000 or more and everybody knows it. If the head of Bentley went on the “Today” show tomorrow and said, “You know, this is really just a Phaeton for people who have a lot of money, and it’s the same car, and I can’t even tell the difference until one of my underlings points it out, but it costs about three times as much,” the sales figures would stay the same. The important thing is that it costs money. It’s the Hublot Big Bang of cars: a vaguely impressive shell surrounding a very prosaic, mass-produced item.

If the Continental was an embarrassment to the brand in 2004 — and it was — then how much more so is it today? Quite a bit more, because now the car isn’t even recognizably expensive, and it’s been revealed to be a limited-lifetime piece of junk. While the men and women of the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Clubs around the world labor tirelessly to keep their affordably-purchased Shadows and Spurs alive, Continentals are joining their Phaeton brethren in the discard pile as people realize the idiocy of spending $20,000 or more to fix a car that won’t be worth that much in a year or two. Bentley can’t apply enough lip gloss to the 2013-model pig to disguise the fact that it’s about the same as the $50,000 or cheaper variants from eight or nine years ago. The new model’s sole selling point is an engine that makes less power and is less impressive than what you get in an eBay special from 2004. When pressed about the virtue of buying a new one, the company’s PR mouthpieces will say something about “reduced consumption”.

For once, I agree with them. Bentley customers should start reducing their consumption — of Phaeton-platform cars. While they’re at it, they can stay away from that misshapen Mulsanne. Perhaps the more tasteful and educated among them could consider doing something like purchasing, and restoring, a 1965 S3. Then they could enjoy a dialogue along these lines:

Neighbor: What’s the difference between that and a Rolls-Royce?

Owner: The shape of the radiator grill.

Neighbor: What’s the difference between that and a 2013 Continental GT?

Owner: This one isn’t a Volkswagen.

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More Proof That What You Drive Does Not Define You Thu, 03 May 2012 16:40:25 +0000

A significant detour on the way to work had me spotting this – a modestly priced house on a busy arterial road in a working-class area nestled between two notorious neighborhoods in Toronto. Jane-Finch and Black Creek.

Anyone still bemoaning the Bentley EXP 9 F and invoking the “authenticity” or vehicles like the Arnage Red Label should take a long hard look at this photo. Somebody has purchased a second-hand Arnage. I am willing to bet that based on the dwelling and the modified Mustang V6 sitting next to it that they are not “to the manor born”, do not wear bespoke suits and are more “G’d Up” than “GQ”. The history and provenance of the 6.75 L engine or its hand assembly in Crewe probably means nothing. Meanwhile, many of the wealthiest people I know drive cars that are old, modest or some combination of the above.

Does your car, and by extension, the badge on your hood really define you? I’ve long maintained that anyone who believes so (and is defined largely by brands and other worthless intangibles) is hopelessly lost and lacking an identity grounded in things that matter, like deeds or relationships. Now I seem to have even more concrete proof.

Or maybe this guy just doesn’t believe in real estate and has different priorities than most.

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Automotive Aloha: 1937 Rolls-Royce, Pre-War Bentley, And A Dakine Engine Sat, 14 Apr 2012 13:29:21 +0000

Even when on vacation, I can’t help tripping over interesting stuff. In this case, quite literally. Ouch. My toe’s still bleeding.

We’re on the windward side of Oahu, a low-key family-style vacation where I normally eschew the madding crowds of people who are better looking than me, embracing instead a backyard chaise-longue and a local IPA. It is in no way, shape or form a hard-knock life.

This is one face of the real Hawai’i and the folks here are as relaxed and bronzed as well you might expect. They’re also used to a quiet life, and many are retirees from various places on the mainland. As a member of the informal network that arises out of the bridge, bunko and bbq circuit, my wife’s aunt asks me if I want to take a look at couple of old cars belonging to a friend’s recently deceased husband. What kind? “Oh an old Bentley and I think a Mercedes.”

Well, here’s the “Mercedes”. Turns out it’s a 1937 Rolls-Royce which predeceased its previous owner only very slightly. The car used to be daily driven: you could see its graceful carriage wafting among the palms, along the Pali or the Likelike highway into Honolulu.

Same story with this one. Another pre-war artistocrat, this pre-war Bentley was driven by the gentleman’s son for many years, until it too became a Garage Countessa. Being so close to the water, the salt air pits the chrome mercilessly.

Aside from the two gargantuan Britannic majesties, this place is stuffed to the rafters with all manner of cast-iron goodness. Some of which, as mentioned, wreaks its bloody havoc on my be-flip-flopped foot. I blame Jonny Lieberman.

Here, for instance, is the engine out of a pre-WWI plane. Don’t ask me to be more specific than that: no doubt the man who added it to his Aladdin’s Cave could have given you chapter and verse, but its current caretaker doesn’t have the specifics. It’s off to a museum, not a collector.

Transfer cases, gear boxes, a cider-press from the early part of the century. Some would call this hoarding behaviour, but to me it’s evidence of the gravity well that exists inside even the best-kept garage.

More than that though, it’s the legacy of a man who kept taking things on right up to the end. Doubtless he felt that all these spares would be organized, all these tools sharpened, all these machines made to run again.

But in the end, entropy rules. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, rubber to rot, chassis to rust.

These beasts will roar again. They’re special enough to be reborn, although this level of necromancy is surely going to require that they leave their tropical island home to be shipped to some team of mainland craftsman. To return? Not likely.

The folks across the street have a Nissan Leaf, and photovoltaic panels on their roof. Sensible, but forgive me if I’d rather have this garage full of whimsy.

So let this be spurs to your own desire. Even in paradise, there’s no time to waste!

Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Picture courtesy Brendan McAleer Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 12
Ask The Best And Brightest: Should Bentley Redesign The EXP 9 F SUV? Mon, 12 Mar 2012 15:22:58 +0000

A report from Britain’s “WHATCAR?” magazine suggests Bentley will go back to the drawing board before their EXP 9 F SUV hits the market in 2015. I, for one, am not so sure this is a good idea.

Before we start the discussion, it would make sense to establish a couple of things; any discussion of “betraying brand values” is null and void. Bentley “lost the plot” some time ago, depending on who you ask (I say it happened when they made watches with Breitling. Jack thinks the Continental GT was their death knell). The locus of affluence has shifted East, and Chinese, Russian and Emirati consumers want this car. Therefore, it will be made. There is no sense in trying to negotiate with reality.

Personally, I think the design is perfect given the vehicle’s intentions; to be an obnoxious, gaudy display of wealth in countries where inequality is rampant. It looks like a Range Rover with the front of a Mulsanne grafted on to it. Such a design has an obvious precedent – the Bentley Dominator, famously built for the Sultan of Brunei, really was a Range Rover with Bentley styling – and therefore a spiritual predecessor to the EXP 9 F.

According to Whatcar?

the redesigned EXP 9 F will have ‘more traditional SUV proportions and less retro surfacing’. The large round headlights and foglights will remain, but the headlights will be slightly smaller and set farther inward.

I’m not sure how the EXP 9 F can look any more like an SUV, unless the reduced “retro surfacing” means it looks more *ahem* Continental than Mulsanne. Alternate proposals are welcome. Unfortunately, “lighting it on fire” is not a valid option.


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Geneva 2012: Jack And Derek Discuss The Bentley EXP9 SUV Wed, 07 Mar 2012 15:51:06 +0000

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.

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Bentley-EXP-9-F-SUV-Concept-14 Bentley-EXP-9-F-SUV-Concept-10 Bentley-EXP-9-F-SUV-Concept-05 Bentley-EXP-9-F-SUV-Concept-03 Bentley-EXP-9-F-SUV-Concept-02 Bentley-EXP-9-F-SUV-Concept-01 Bentley EXP9F Concept SUV. Photo courtesy ]]> 47
QOTD: What’s wrong with this statement? Mon, 27 Feb 2012 18:24:07 +0000

A topic covered before, but clearly worth covering again…

The author: Georg Kacher, seasoned European bureau chief for Automobile (i.e. not a newb)

The place: page 31, April 2012 issue

The car: Bentley Continental GT V8

The statement: “Alternatively, you can work the shift paddles to keep the engine revving between 4000 and 6300 rpm, where the power and torque curves approach, intersect, and then run almost parallel to the limiter.”

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Lamborghini To Revive Rambo Lambo. In China Wed, 22 Feb 2012 19:01:43 +0000

Volkswagen’s Lamborghini division, along with Bentley, could be following Porsche and bring out a pricey SUV.  At the 2012 Beijing Auto Show in April, Lamborghini should show an SUV study to Chinese customers, Bloomberg writes. A production version is expected by 2016.

A year earlier, Volkswagen’s Bentley is anticipated to sell its luxo-SUV. A study should be shown at the Geneva Auto Salon next month.

Lamborghini had a short-lived fling with its own SUV, the LM002 (pictured). Introduced in 1986 and quickly nicknamed the “Rambo Lambo,” the car was discontinued in 1993 after a bid for the military market had fizzled.

By showing the Lambo SUV in China, Lamborghini targets one of the hottest markets for upscale 4x4s. Most of Porsche’s sales in China are Cayennes.  Chinese customers wait up to a year for their pricey imported car.



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Throne Watch: Maybach Owners In Tears, Bentley To The Rescue Sat, 14 Jan 2012 14:10:06 +0000

Are you the King of Spain, the Sultan of Brunai, Jay-Z, or the Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich? Check your mailbox. Volkswagen’s Bentley has sent you mail. Bentley wants to grieve with you over the passing of your beloved Maybach brand, and then, in a tasteful way, hopes will be expressed that your next car will be a Bentley.

In November, Daimler announced that it will bury Maybach (for an eulogy fittingly written by Jack Baruth, click here). This allegedly caused tears amongst the über-rich. Bentley Chief Executive Wolfgang Dürheimer told Reuters at the Detroit auto show that he already heard from some sad Maybach owners: “The comments I’m receiving aren’t very positive – they feel left alone.”

Well, it’s lonely at the top. To set themselves off from the riff-raff, current Maybach owners are unlikely to replace their $372,500 Maybach 57S with a Mercedes S350 Bluetec: $91,300 – never mind that the two look like twins. They are.

The thinking goes that Bentleys and Rollers are closer to the hearts of the clientele. A Bentley Mulsanne ($290,000 MSRP, excluding tax, title, license and destination charge) will look like a bargain compared to the lowest-priced Maybach, the 57.  If you have money to burn (like the royalty in that video,) Bentley has a shop that caters to the strangest tastes, at a hefty surcharge.

Then, why send letters? At around 200 Maybachs sold in 2011, seeking an audience with the grieving owner would probably be more efficient. Bring Kleenex and brochures.


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