﹒Striking and unusual colour combination ﹒Modest usage in recent years ﹒Regularly maintained ﹒Wedding car potential
Since its acquisition by Volkswagen in 1998, Bentley has been going from strength to strength, aided in no small part by a considerable investment from the German automotive Goliath. Similarly, its key rival Rolls Royce hasn’t been doing too badly under the ownership of another German giant of the industry, BMW. Perhaps understandably given their competitive positions, neither brand these days refers to their shared past to any great degree. But the fact is that Bentley, which was founded in 1919, was owned by Rolls Royce between 1931 and 1998 and during that period shared chassis and engines with the parent company.
The overlap was perhaps at its greatest in the seventies and eighties, when the accusation that Bentleys were little more than badge-engineered Rolls Royces was hardest to refute, given the commonality in bodyshells and drivetrains. And yet, even during this period, Bentley retained a distinct brand identity as the sportier and arguably less gauche sister which it developed during the nineties to a point where Bentley was a saleable company in its own right.
Rolls Royce launched the Silver Spirit, the development of the Silver Shadow, in 1980 while the Bentley Mulsanne was the very similar equivalent. The 6.75 litre V8 used in both was continued from the Silver Shadow. First introduced in 1970 in this capacity, the “six and three quarters” engine and its descendants, in Bentleys at least, remained in production right up to 2020. Power was sent to the rear wheels by a 3 speed GM-sourced automatic gearbox, additional ratios being redundant by the generous torque on offer, while the hydropneumatic suspension originally licensed from Citroen, continued in its role providing the best ride of any car on sale.
In 1984, Bentley decided to introduce an “entry-level” car, priced just under £50,000 which it named the Bentley Eight. While scaling back the opulence a little, the Eight also offered slight stiffer suspension to increase the appeal to keen drivers. The grille was designed as a mesh to hark back to the Bentley racing cars of old and the move to greater differentiate Bentley from its Rolls Royce siblings gathered pace.
In recent years this example has been used more for its comfort and luxury than its more sporting credentials. The current owner purchased the car five years ago from a chauffeur-driven wedding hire company with the intention of following a similar path. However other priorities intervened and, although the car has been serviced and taken for its MOT every year to maintain its condition, it’s not been used a great deal either for the purpose for which it was intended or otherwise.
Having finally conceded that the move to wedding hire isn’t going happen, even when the anticipated backlog of such events is surely set to spike demand post-pandemic, the owner has decided to free up space and let someone else enjoy the car, and/ or capitalise on the potential upcoming boom.
All of the original manuals and documentation are included, with the service book showing 23 stamps. Unfortunately the receipts for recent services have been mislaid, but reprints are being sought. The most recent service was in March 2020 when the MOT was renewed.
The striking luxuriant red interior sets this car apart, creating an ideal backdrop for bridal shots in the rear, and a cossetting environment for the driver. A beautiful wood-rimmed Moto-Lita steering wheel complements the hand-finished dashboard. The front seats are showing some wear while the rears have a nice patina but neither have any rips or tears. The headlining is leather and the deep carpets are in great condition. The wood veneer is unmarked throughout, with the exception of the rear driver’s side door cap which has lost its lacquer towards the rear.
The generous boot appears hardly used and contains a kill switch for the electrics that can be useful when the car is not run for a lengthy period. All of the buttons and switches work save for the driver’s window which has recently developed a fault. The stereo is fully functional and the aerial extends and retracts as it should. The photographs show some misting to the dials which is the product of a thorough wash and a cold day and these are now all clear.
Finished in its original white, the coachwork presents generally very well with only a few blemishes. The hand painted pin stripes line up beautifully with just a small break on the offside rear arch which the owner speculates has been caused by a stick-on bow (an occupational hazard). The sills appear in very good order with no signs of corrosion while the wheels all wear the correct Avon tyres with good tread. In terms of those blemishes, the most obvious is on the driver’s door which shows a paint bubble at the bottom towards the front of the door. This was present when the owner acquired the car and its condition has not changed over that five year period. What is new is the small rust patch on the nearside rear panel which it may be wise to attend to.
Up front, the Bentley badge sits atop a chrome grille whose excellent condition matches that of the other chrome work around the bodywork and there is a chrome badge bar which is not currently displaying membership of any of the motoring institutions whose emblems usually adorn such items. Some slight misting of the headlights is evident but it’s not known if this is just an artefact of lack of use and some mileage exceeding that to the local MOT station may generate the heat and air flow to clear them.
This being a 1987 car, the engine benefits from fuel injection and even when left to stand for some time, the car starts first time every time on the key. It drives perfectly with no knocks, bangs or other untoward noises. The ‘six and three quarter” litre V8 pulls strongly, the automatic gearbox changes smoothly and kicks down when prompted and it stops well.
The engine bay is in very original condition with the under-bonnet sound deadening layer in good order.
Right now, an eighties Bentley is surely the very definition of ‘a lot of car for the money’. Not just in terms of the amount of automotive real estate on offer but also for the luxury, heritage and satisfaction that comes from owning a slice of British hand-crafted engineering. The market is recognising this with values on a steady upward trajectory which should help to mitigate ownership costs.
This particular example has enjoyed a fairly sedate existence in recent years but has obviously been maintained to a high standard. Sure, there are a few items to attend to in order to restore it to its full former glory, but it’s not going to be barn-find levels of restoration and it could be enjoyed largely as-is in the meantime. And whether or not you choose to have the car earn its keep with a blushing bride in the rear from time to time, there are few finer ways to travel for such a relatively modest outlay.
Please note: Photos provided by seller
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