If you're a bit like me, and spend your free time scouring the classifieds or perusing the pages of Auto Trader hunting for a bargain, most likely hidden within the thousands of MGBs they have on there, you'll almost certainly have noticed an alarming number of large, mostly British grand tourers beginning to creep into the pages. While most of the models featured are pretty common (Jaguar XJS, BMW 6 Series), there are a few gems, such as those from Crewe's finest, Bentley, sitting at extremely low prices.
Such an example is the Bentley Turbo R. When new, this slice of 80s charm would have cost you around 150,000 of your pounds back in 1985, quite a princely sum. However, you can now catch a 1993 model in great condition, with barely 100,000 miles on the clock, with a clear history (that is, it hasn't been stolen, scrapped or imported), along with a host of other mod cons (such as leather trim, alloy wheels and even a DVD player), for only £8,750, cheaper than most modern day hatchbacks.
Move a bit further up the scale and you'll find the Continental GT, a car that upon release in 2003 packed a 6 litre W12 twin-turbo engine, producing a whopping 552 bhp, more than enough to blow any competition from the likes of Jaguar or Porsche into the weeds. Typically of Bentleys however, it was also the last word in luxury, with customers being able to choose from 8 hide covers, 5 veneer types and 4 carpet and seatbelt covers. Even the luxury watchmaker Breitling was drafted in to make the dashboard clock, which translated to big money. As a result, the Continental GT went on sale with a price tag nearing £120,000.
Yet only 15 years on from that world of walnut and power, a 2004 model with just over 100,000 miles on it will waft onto your driveway for the almost derisory sum of £13,499. And if you thought that meant a cheaper, dumbed-down Bentley, then you'd be terribly wrong, as this model comes with a host of toys equipped, including satnav, heated seats, parking sensors and even a telephone, all for the cost of a four-year-old Volvo.
It all sounds incredibly tempting- a genuine luxury grand tourer on the drive of your suburban semi-detatched- and it was certainly tempting for me- but what exactly would you be getting yourself into if you were to break open your chequebook for one of these motors? And perhaps the forefront of questions; why are these clearly once very expensive cars now so cheap?
The Arnage- another car now filling the back page ads
One factor that definitely contributes to these cars' low values is the size of their fuel tank. Any number below six doesn't really exist in Bentley's index, and it contributes a lot to their plummeting value. At the dawn of a new decade where minimal fuel consumption and alternative sources of fuel are quickly becoming some of the most topical discussions of the present day, massive 6.0 litre engines aren't exactly considered the most necessary of tools, and they're thirsty and complicated beasts to run, which is a huge factor in these car's price fall.
Another thing to consider when buying a car of this calibre is- how much are you willing to risk by buying it? Bentleys have large, complicated engines that while reliable on newer models such as the Continental, on older models such as the Turbo R, they are less sharp and are sometimes prone to problems such as oil leaks and overheating. Before being bailed out by Volkswagen in 1998, Bentleys didn't have the best reliability record, so that's always something to watch out for when buying an old, used model.
Overall, running costs and reliability are what would make an older Bentley less appealing, but if you were to go for a post-VW buyout model, you should be in the clear, and you could be set to make some serious money in the next few years.
And that's a wrap! Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it. Cheers, and I'll see you in the next article!
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If you'd like to take a look at some of the models mentioned in this article, visit the links below:
1993 Bentley Turbo R- click here
2004 Bentley Continental- click here
2001 Bentley Arnage- click here