11,500 miles from new

2001 Bentley Continental T Short Chassis Coupe

Coachwork by Mulliner Park Ward

“Presenting the Torque Monster, wearing a tuxedo and black sunglasses: the Bentley Continental T…What propels this huge touring coupe is what motivated this entire story- torque, and more of it than you can find anywhere on earth in any production car, or truck, thank you…The baddest luxury car ever created accelerates with the linear quality and near silence of an electric bullet train. Yet, belying its tire-burning performance, this Bentley truly is the quintessential luxury machine. It pampers in an unabashedly hedonistic old-world manner, with supple and sweetly aromatic leather, near-silent operation, and a visual and tactile treasure trove of hand-polished chrome switchgear, machined aluminum, wool carpeting, and the famous red starter button.” That was how authoritative US publicationMotor Trend reported the launch of the Bentley Continental T.

A few years later, actor and collector Rowan Atkinson compared the Continental T to the then-new GT model for British performance magazine Evo and came away asking: “Does the venerable Continental T do anything better? Well, quite a few things actually but they’re less easily measured…I think they put a lot of effort into the Continental T and it shows. It’s got such life and soul.” Observing that the mass produced newer model is “a fine car” although “too rational”, Atkinson concludes: “But if you’re looking for a long term love affair with a flawed, fascinating and passionate companion, you should think seriously about a Continental T.”

The last and most powerful model built by the Bentley firm before its German takeover, and also one of the rarest, the brutally-styled Continental T emphasized performance as its primary goal in a manner that recalled the short-chassis Speed Six of 1929. The turbocharged V8's 420 bhp and staggering 590 lb/ft (later 440bhp and 650 lb/ft) made it not only the fastest production Bentley ever, but gave it the highest torque of any car then on the market. Bentley claimed 0-60mph in 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 170mph. Just 322 examples were made, 1996-2002, later ones such as this car (where the engineers were given a free rein) boasting detail improvements including increased power and a higher top speed.

This 2001 model was delivered via Bentley Rancho Mirage in January that year to first owner King Entertainment Inc. of Lake Forest, California. The purchaser spared no expense in specifying his new Bentley, the price of which approached $350,000: features include black coachwork and matching black hide (‘through dyed’ in Mulliner-speak): the headlining, carpet binding, centre console, rear parcel shelf, seat main trim and piping, steering wheel, top roll, underdash and sun visors all match, giving this Continental T an unusually elegant yet businesslike look which subtly hints at the effortless performance lurking beneath.

Its specification includes all the desirable options including front wing vents, stainless steel headlamp surrounds, burr walnut veneered dashboard, waistrails and door panels, embroidered emblems to the headrests and parking sensors front and rear. 

Paperwork accompanying the Bentley shows that when serviced almost two years after delivery the total mileage covered was just 1,029; in the intervening years the car has remained in collections including those of Paul Forbes (Norfolk, VA), John Carr (Norfolk, VA) and actor Nicolas Cage (Hollywood, CA), the latter well-known for his penchant for black sports cars. In 2008, with a mere 11,100 miles covered from new, it returned to Europe and is now offered with both German and Swiss tax free plates, with (duplicate) service book and owners manual in their factory wallet. The car has just emerged from the workshops of world renowned specialists P&A Wood following a comprehensive test and report (copy available), fitting of four new Pirelli Assimetrico tyres and a full service; the cost of this work was some £4,371 and the car needs for absolutely nothing.

This is an exceptional example of a last-of-the-line modern classic, as close to new as one could reasonably expect and built to the ultimate specification, ready to be enjoyed for many years by its fortunate next owner.