Bentley created the ultimate statement with the decadent Azure ‘Final Series Performance’ in 1999. The car follows a long tradition of individual coach-built open-top grand tourers, all of which embody the flying spur's reputation for engineering and craftsmanship. A car built for the motoring connoisseur, it is the ultimate expression of the marque - combining performance, effortless cruising and a sense of occasion that was created for the ultimate driving pleasure.
This is one of the last cars of the series, having left the factory in 2003. With a recorded mileage of just 15,320 miles, this Azure is one of 15 RHD limited run ‘Final Series Performance’ models, which could be specified with a unique series of options chosen by the original owner. All 'FSP' cars can be distinguished by the uprated engine and suspension package, wider arches and Mulliner specific trim. Launched as a symbol of the brand's departure from Rolls Royce, this well-preserved example is finished in Peacock blue metallic with Cotswold cream quilted leather, with the reassurance of a full Bentley service history and adorned by a near faultless interior and exterior presentation.
The previous owners' provenance lends credibility to the Azure, with two having a reputable standing as captains of industry. Given the level of engineering and sophistication of the Bentley Azure, this really should come as no surprise. Now being placed for sale by prestige cars specialists, Marlow Cars, this example is typical of the low mileage well-prepared examples the company specialises in.
The original owner bought the car new from Broughtons of Cheltenham, who have attended to all of its service and maintenance needs, with additional attention paid to brakes and a dashboard circuit board replacement. The car also comes with documentation with a list of all the work carried out and has evidence of its past MOT’s. The car comes with the leather-bound owner's handbook and has an MOT until November 2021.
The interior presentation of soft Cotswold hide and navy detailing is close to perfect, with just the slightest of signs suggestion of age to the diamond quilted sports seats, most evident as gentle wear on the driver seat bolsters. The stitching and overall preservation of the leather are very good throughout the car and would be difficult to find significant faults with them. The distinctive black lacquer waist rails on the door cards are beautifully presented with the winged Bentley motive dominating the presentation. The blue Wilton wool over mats are in good shape, with the deep pile carpeting showing very little signs of wear. The inner wool-lined headlining is in excellent condition with no marks or signs of discolouration
The two-tone steering wheel is in very good condition, with no significant faults worth pointing out. The chrome gear selector is nicely finished and shows a similar resistance to age. The overall dashboard finish is of a high standard, with no issues observed with the condition of the walnut burr and leather facia combination. The tasteful analogue chrome-bezelled gauges are in excellent condition, with the switchgear, controls and dials, including the large red starter button in good condition. The Alpine IVA-D310R media station is said to be fully operational, with no marks on the display screen.
The body is in excellent shape, the panel gaps have a factory perfect fit, with the doors all showing equal panel gaps. The car is free from any notable dents, with all of the panels straight and even. The doors hang well, with no issues in the opening or closing although the weight of the bonnet means that the gas struts struggle to keep it open and therefore would have to be subject to re-gassing. The underside of the car reveals no issues or damage, with just typical age-related wear with no significant corrosion observed. The Pininfarina designed and manufactured French navy coloured hood is in excellent condition, with no damage evident. The lack of outside elements on the car strongly suggests that the car has been kept under cover throughout its life. The retractable hood mechanism functions perfectly, with no evidence of noisy overstrained motors.
The glass, including the front headlights, are in good order, with no issues or damage to the windscreen laminate. No fogging or scratches and chips were noted on any of the glass. The rear plastic screen for the hood is in good condition with no damage detected. The bumpers are in tidy shape, with minor signs of light scuffing on the front corners that could easily polish out. The external trim is all in good condition, with no significant issues to concern the new owner, the chrome finishing has no evidence of damage. The grill, emblems and mesh vents are all in excellent condition and in keeping with the car, have been well looked after. The five-spoke 18-inch road wheels are in excellent condition with just a tiny hint to suggest their age but no curbing or stone chip damage observed. The Pirelli P-zero tyres all appear to be the original tyres, they’re not cracked and have a good thread but it would be a prudent purchase to replace them due to their age.
The Peacock blue metallic finish is of the highest standard and has been subject to a recent machine polish treatment with additional wax protection. The lustre is deep and even throughout, with no swirls or paint degradation evident. The car is free from significant road chip damage, with the general conditions of the car and wheel arches suggesting carefully use and care. Being picky, just one area that showed any form of notable damage was a small chip just above the rear number plate housing, which has not penetrated to the metal.
These 'Final Series Performance' were sold with an uprated engine set up, with a 10% bhp power hike over the standard Azure 6.75-litre turbocharged engine. This adds up to a total of 420bhp which gave the Mulliner version a rather indecent power hike to enables a restricted top speed of 150mph. The visual condition of the engine is excellent, suggesting a high level of attention to the cleaning and maintenance of the car. The ancillaries, pipework, hoses, metalwork and plastic components all appear to be in good condition. Instilling the expected virtues of Bentley engineering, the strong and silent power plant starts up on the button, with no nasty knocks, hissing or commotion upon tick over. The was no smoke from the exhaust, other than the expected condensation. The engine continued to run smoothly as it reaches temperature. No reported issues with the gearbox shift, all changes are said to be deployed with the greatest of ease. There are said to be no issues with the suspension and braking capabilities, with no evidence of brake fade or creaking from the suspension components. The exhaust is in good condition with no issues with respect to corrosion or leaks.
When this car was announced, the Azure ‘Final Series Performance’ was the ultimate statement in Bentley's reputation for elegant refinement. Critics noted the car as a fitting flagship model for a prestige brand. Its imposing presence and decadent manner are complemented by its fine cosseting ride and ability to glide serenely and providing that your passengers did object, the Azure could turn and roar into action if needed, without spilling their Martinis. As a drivers car, the outstanding power and torque could tackle any scenario, yet these cars are not as intimidating to drive as you might think. The slick and sensible gearboxes, along with the considerate and logical ergonomics make it something of an inclusive driving experience. As a balanced definition of exhilaration and poise with a dose of practicality, the Azure Mulliner stands up today as one of Bentley's finest automobiles.
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