The 80,000th Bentley was created earlier this week and the Orange Flame Continental GT has come a long way since the dull days of black and white…
Produced at the world’s first carbon-neutral factory for luxury car production in Crewe, the 80,000th individual, a made-to-order example of the Continental GT and still looks every part the lottery winners dream with its handcrafted luxury and cutting-edge technology.
Rewind nearly 70 years and the Bentley R-Type Continental was making its curvacious debut with an impressive top speed of 120 mph and in a Mulliner-bodied coupe, making it the fastest four-seater car in the world and very quickly establishing itself as the ultimate in high-speed luxury.
Inspired by the R-Type, the Continental GT came along in 2003 and became the first of the ‘modern’ Bentley era and to some also the most generic. This was the luxury Grand Tourer which has been seen in front of just about every expensive hotel in London and kick-started the company’s tenfold growth in sales with its launch. An average of nearly 5,000 examples of these things were produced year on year and delivered to wealthy customers around the world.
Fast forward into 2021 and the busy Bentley team have finished the 80,000th Continental GT which, for the flag wavers, is still owned by Bentley. Over this period the style, technology and engineering beneath the car have evolved significantly, seeing an increase of up to 27 per cent in peak power, whilst models within the range have also achieved a reduction over the original Continental GT of 48 per cent in CO2 emissions.
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At its launch in 2003, Bentley redefined the modern grand tourer with the revolutionary Continental GT. Now in 2021, the GT continues to be the ultimate luxury grand tourer, encompassing the latest technology, performance and style. This success is a testament to the skills of our designers, engineers and craftspeople here in Crewe.
I had the pleasure of launching the original GT in 2003 in my first stint at Bentley, and being here for the launch of the latest generation – and the iterations that have followed – has been a source of great pride for me personally. It will continue to be the iconic backbone of the Bentley business for years to come, even as we transition to the world’s leading provider of sustainable luxury mobility
The milestone was marked by a photoshoot of its impressive heritage fleet to show the evolution and achievements of the Continental GT since 2003.
Marking the car through its generations were:
- The very first production Continental GT, VIN 0001, still a taxed-and-tested car on Bentley’s fleet
- A Continental Supersports coupe, considered by many to be the pinnacle of the first generation GT family
- A second-generation Continental GT V8 S coupe finished in Jetstream
- From the current press fleet, a Dragon Red Continental GT Convertible
The Continental GT has also supported Bentley’s long tradition of racing and record-breaking that started in the 1920s when the Bentley Boys set the pace at European circuits. In 1922, John Duff drove his Bentley 3 Litre single-handed for 24 hours, at an average speed of almost 87 mph at Brooklands to secure 39 Class D records. And in 1928, another 3 Litre driven by Dudley Froy became the first car to achieve more than 115 mph over a distance of 100 miles at the same venue.