Bently Boyz

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
bently boyz

I recently read the official "preview" of the Continental GT. It was catatonically comprehensive, written in the stuffy style one associates with one's Bentley. From the outset, the anonymous PR flack claimed the new GT would bring Bentley ownership to "a wider audience of discerning enthusiasts than ever before." Considering the magazine that printed the puff piece, it's hard to argue the point.

"Makes and Models" features Japanese cars that have been tuned into a caricature of their former selves, and glossy pictures of young women who've suffered the same fate. The Bentley GT position as M&M's cover girl (along with a non-functional Nissan Skyline R-32 and a shot of four "models" obscuring a race-ready Marcos) is proof positive that Bentley no longer depends on port-swilling gentlemen racers for its survival. These days, nouveau riche "Bentley Boyz" are the "discerning enthusiasts" on whom the company's future depends.

Seriously. Just before the Germans invaded Crewe, American black street culture rescued Bentley from oblivion. When rap virtuosos like Puff Daddy (later P. Diddy) recorded odes to their Bentleys, and displayed them in music videos, the British manufacturer's overweight, over-powered, over-priced luxo-barges acquired unimpeachable street cred. At a stroke, Bentley drivers were transformed from white capitalist swine into ethnic exponents of cutting edge cool. Safe!

But not from the Germans, who seem genetically predisposed to turning small manufacturers' unreliable yet fashionable cars into sleek chic jet aircraft. Even a glance at the GT's spec sheet reveals a hugely over-engineered machine: 500+bhp twin-turbo W8 engine, four-wheel-drive, under floor petrol tank, multi-link rear axle, air suspension, Electronic Stability Programme, Emergency Brake Force Distribution, etc. The resulting performance will certainly appeal to well-heeled pistonheads, but what of Mr. Diddy's fans, friends, followers?

M&M's interest certainly augers well. Any car that can compete with Elizabeth Ewald's Spandex hot pants has got to have some serious street cred. Equally important, M&M hails from southern Florida, a region devoid of corners and infested with speed cops. Car buyers feel free to purchase an automobile based on nothing more than its pose value. If the hi-tech GT appeals to drivers who have about as much use for four-wheel-drive as a motorcyclist, it's bound to earn the affections of America's technologically blind style victims.

That said, M&M is a bit… white. So the question remains: will the more culturally influential Brothers take to the GT?

The answer may come from The Source, a monthly bible for hip-hoppers. In its pages, Funkmaster Flex writes a column for on whips (cars) called "Drive Buys" (I swear). According to Mr. Flex, Bentleys are as deeply unfashionable as the rapper Ice-T. "Bentleys were big," Mr. Flex asserts. "P. Diddy kind of pushed that trend. But now they're definitely played out. The hip-hop world and young kids in general are coming back to American cars."

Need proof? Listen in as Mr. Flex asks Baby, "CEO" of rap group Big Tymers, about Bentleys…

"I'm just done with that luxury sports car European thing. I did that. A few years ago, I was a nigga comin' out the projects, Flex. A nigga who never had nothing, so a nigga got to try on a Bentley. I had five different Bentleys at the same time. And don't get me wrong, I'll do it again if I feel like that's what a nigga wants to get into. That ain't no thing…

"Fuck them ol' Bentleys and Lamborghinis, all that ol' foreign shit. You can pull into the neighborhood and nobody knows what the fuck it is. Meanwhile, I can pull up right next to that nigga in a stocked-out, candy-kitted Cadillac and the whole hood will light up."

It may not sound like typical focus group feedback, but Bentley ignores Baby's comments at its peril. Which means they're in peril. According to the PR piece, Bentley aims to reach its new customers "through strategic alliances with other luxury non-automotive companies, organising joint activities and promotions, highly-targeted direct marketing and Internet activity."

Somehow, I don't think mail merging with hip-hop record labels is what Bentley has in mind. I don't expect a GT to form part of Flex' "Celebrity Car Show". Nor do I anticipate the company adding a Bentley link to

Which is a shame. By aiming their marketing efforts at the usual multi-automobiled, performance-crazed Euro-snobs, Bentley is turning its back on the very people who could give–have given– the marque the post-modern gravitas it needs to compete in the increasingly crowded £100k+ supercar field.

Funny thing is, it might happen anyway; the street may still claim the GT as its own. After all, P. Diddy, Baby and friends found Bentley, not the other way 'round. Mr. Flex might unleash his Team Baurtwell car conversion crew on a new GT in spite of Bentley, not because of them.

Join the conversation
  • Chris P Bacon I had a chance to drive 2 Accords back to back as rentals. The first was a base ICE LX. I was underwhelmed. The next was a Sport Hybrid. Like night and day. So much so that I ventured on to the grounds of my local dealer. Was looking for a Sport or Sport-L. Autotrader showed nothing within 250 miles. Dealer confirmed. Told me I'd have to "get on the list" for a delivery, and there was a non-negotiable $3k "market adjustment". I guess I'll have to hope to see one on the Emerald Aisle again.
  • DungBeetle62 I just this past weekend rented one of these for 5 days in SoCal and with $5.29 the best I could find for gas, this ride's wonderful combination of comfort and thrift was welcome indeed. My biggest real beef is with the entire Accord product line - with that angle of backlight, not having this as a 5-door hatch seems a real waste of space.
  • RICHARD I bought my wife the exact car in the picture 3 weeks ago. Acceleration is average for the class. Smoothness of the powertrain, competent ride dynamics, quietness, and comfort are definitely pluses. The styling is restrained for sure, but we weren't looking for a shouty car that doesn't deliver on the design statement. She drives about 8,000 miles per year, mostly around town. At the current rate, we expect to buy about 16 gallons of gas per month. This really is a car that appears to do everything well rather than excelling at a few things to the detriment of others.
  • Ajla "2010-2019 Borrego"The Borrego only had model years 2009 - 2011 in the United States. The Borrego/Mohave did exist in international markets beyond them but the NHTSA of the United States would not be handling a recall on those. It's annoying that apparently the manufacturer, the federal regulator, and automotive press didn't notice this.
  • SilverCoupe The last Accord I test drove was in 1978, but I ended up buying a VW Scirocco instead. The Accords have put on quite a bit of weight since, then, but then again, so have I!