∙Bentley Continental GT in rare Dark Sapphire ∙Special order Navy and Magnolia Mulliner leather ∙Full service history ∙Over £17,000 spent in past four years
In many ways, the Continental GT is one of the most important Bentleys ever, as well as a complete mould-breaker for the brand.
Introduced at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show to sharp intakes of breath, the first Bentley to be developed entirely by VW Group and away from Rolls-Royce also very quickly became its fastest-ever seller.
It was a huge break from tradition. Instead of being hand-made, it was mass produced with the factory in Crewe being completely refitted to accommodate modern manufacturing principles. It also had a lot of parts commonality with other VW Group cars – the four-wheel-drive platform was derived from that of the VW Phaeton luxury saloon, while under the bonnet it got the German firm’s innovative 6.0-litre W12 engine, which in the GT came with twin turbochargers giving it 552bhp and a top speed of 196mph.
It was a hugely impactful car, both due to its imposing size and also its astonishing performance, while it was also as opulent as Bentley owners were used to. Its appeal went beyond the traditional, too, bringing Bentley ownership to a newer and more youthful customer base, helped in no small part by David and Victoria Beckham becoming one of the first customers.
This example is much more tasteful than a ‘footballer’s wife’ Continental GT, though. Finished in subtle Dark Sapphire with Mulliner Diamond Weave leather, it’s a beguiling and charming car that’s tastefully presented.
First registered in 2006, LF06 PYO began life in leafy Tunbridge Wells, before passing on to a second owner in 2010. In 2015, it was bought by a good friend of the vendor who has kept on top of its upkeep – in the past four years he has spent over £17,000 on its maintenance including the better part of £1,500 on new tyres alone.
Among the nice little details that back up the love the car has seen are the original Bentley-branded pen that was given to all Continental GT customers as a gift, along with a leather key holder, both of which are scarcely seen these days.
Continental GTs are of an age now where the gulf between the good ones and not-so good is getting bigger. This car is a good one that has been diligently maintained and shouldn’t be mistaken for one that has been run on a budget.
That’s backed up by a full and comprehensive service history showing annual maintenance and repairs where needed over the past 15 years, with most of the history presented in a neat folder to back up its provenance as a cherished car.
Of all the Continental GT colour schemes, Dark Sapphire is both one of the nicest and least ostentatious. It’s a rich and deep metallic blue, which sets off the GT’s lines neatly.
It’s in great overall condition with no obvious damage or scratches, though there are some light scuff marks on the 21-inch alloys.
The pop-up rear spoiler works as it should, while the chrome trim, lights and glass are all in good order. It sits well – a smart and very good looking example of the marque with no obvious flaws.
Inside, the GT is brimming with opulence, helped in no small part by the original buyer’s choice of two-tone navy and magnolia Mulliner leather, with a smart diamond weave pattern.
The two colours set each other off beautifully and the leather is all in excellent order, as are the deep pile carpets and wood veneers. The factory sat nav and infotainment centre still work as intended.
There’s one fault of note – the mechanism in the nearside rear window lifter has packed up. It’s not one you’ll want to open very often (hence why it has seized, probably) but if you want the car to be 100% it’s a job to add to the list. Otherwise, there’s not much that needs doing and it’s a lovely place in which to sit.
Make no mistake, the twin-turbo W12 is a very specialist powerplant and will require the attentions of a marque expert to maintain it properly, but the good news with this example is that it has always been looked after by Bentley main agents.
The 103,000 mile engine starts on the button and sounds fantastic, with a wonderful noise at idle and an even better one at full pelt. It sounds like two V6s running in sync, but that’s because it kind-of is.
It registers good oil pressure and all the fluids are clean and where they should be.
The Continental GT is at a stage now where it represents astonishing value. This example cost over £130,000 new yet can today be bought for a substantial amount less and it’s a grand and wonderful way to travel.
It won’t be cheap to own – a 6.0-litre 12-cylinder engine and the need for specialist maintenance will see to that – but it represents astonishing value for money for what it is.
An example such as this one, which has been properly looked after, not messed about with and clearly well-loved is about as good as you can get if you’re in the market for a first-generation Continental GT and – given the car’s significance to one of the world’s oldest and most treasured car brands – it has the potential to be a sensible investment for the future as well.
In time, Continental GT values are bound to start creeping up. Buying an example as good as this one now could well be a very savvy move.
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