The Continental nameplate is one that Bentley returned to time and again, yet the least-known variant is the most luxurious: the Bentley-badged convertibles built alongside the Rolls-Royce Corniche from 1985 to 1995.
The politics behind racing are sometimes more intriguing than the on-track action itself. When the VW Group acquired Bentley from Vickers in 1998, it immediately set about picking up the pieces of a brand that was by then reduced to a poor cousin of Rolls-Royce. This mission found further fervour through the painful reminder that not only had VW lost the bid for Rolls-Royce to BMW; but the latter would also win Le Mans the year thereafter.
When Rolls-Royce collaborated with Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina for its new 1970s flagship, the Camargue was the distinctive but divisive outcome. Almost 50 years on, the car is still a contentious subject.
Ron Webster overcame adversity to win an apprenticeship with Rolls-Royce that became a 35-year career, then after retirement he achieved an equally unlikely dream – his own Bentley, despite being unable to hold a driving licence.
The 8-Litre ‘Dead Silent 100 mph car’ was W.O. Bentley’s masterpiece, in the view of many observers. Because they were made in tiny numbers, any encounter with an 8-litre is to be savoured, as our man in California, Steve Natale, discovered.
Cars can leave a profound impression on our childhood, and as car enthusiasts we can probably all think of one we wish our parents had never sold. David Watt did better than that – he bought it and brought it home.