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‘Hitler bomber’ Bentley found in garage after 30 years

Hitler Bomber Bentley

A 1936 Bentley 4.5-Litre Vanden Plas Tourer previously owned by former RAF pilot Charles Blackman has sold at auction for £454,250 at the H&H Classics sale at Duxford.

It last sold for £260 in 1952 and has spent the last 30 years locked up at Mr Blackman’s home in Stockport. But the Bentley was unearthed following the death of the former pilot and sold as part of his estate.

Despite being in a ‘barn-find’ condition, the Bentley fetched more than double the pre-auction estimate of between £150,000 and £200,000, helped in no small part by the fact that it’s one of only six W.O. Bentley 4.5-Litre cars assembled by the service department using new old stock parts in 1936.

Mr Blackman served in the RAF 500 Squadron and took part in the bombing of Hitler’s mountain retreat in Bavaria in April 1945. In the same month, he made emergency food drops on the German/Dutch border where people were facing famine.

RAF 550 Squadron

RAF 550 Squadron, with Flight Sargent Blackman pictured centre

He bought the Bentley in 1952 and drove it for 36 years before age caught up with him and the car was taken off the road. It remained in his garage ever since.

Damian Jones, head of sales at H&H Classics said: “This is the ultimate Bentley ‘barn-find’ in the marque’s centenary year. It is a really wonderful discovery for all fans of the marque made even more special in the make’s 100th birthday year.

“It sold last time for just £260 so this time we believed it would do a thousand times better and it did not disappoint.”

1936 Bentley 4.5-Litre Vanden Plas Tourer

He added: “This Bentley is so unusual because it was assembled in the mid 1930s using a chassis and mechanical parts which dated from no later than 1931.”

“Only the body was freshly made when the car was assembled and sold as a new car in 1936. The W.O. Bentleys made from 1919 to 1931 are far more valuable than the Derby Bentleys which followed from 1933 to 1940. The car was accepted as a W.O. Bentley because its chassis and mechanicals were all made during the W.O. era.”

2019 Bentley Continental GTC review: need for tweed

Bentley Continental GTCBentley has started its centenary year with a bang. First, it revealed the world’s fastest SUV – the 190mph Bentayga Speed – then it teased details of racing-inspired special edition, due to debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

The biggest story of 2019 so far, though, is the new £175,890 Continental GTC. A drop-top version of Bentley’s benchmark GT, it has a 635hp W12 (V8 and hybrid versions will follow) and top speed in excess of 200mph. With the roof up, ideally.

A grand tourer deserves a grand tour, so we tested the GTC’s mile-munching mettle on a 276-mile drive from Marbella to Seville, taking the scenic route via some of Europe’s best roads. Here’s what we learned.

The tweed roof is brilliantly British

Bentley Continental GTC

Let’s start with the insulated fabric hood, which disappears in 19 near-silent seconds, at speeds up to 30mph. Rear-seat space isn’t compromised, nor does the retracted roof encroach on luggage space. Boot volume is just 235 litres, however, versus 358 litres in the GT.

You can choose from seven roof colours, but ‘contemporary tweed’ is easily the coolest option. It’s an understated beige and brown check, as opposed to something you’d find on a hipster suit, but its bespoke Britishness sums up Bentley perfectly.

In profile, the GTC sacrifices the coupe’s flowing fastback for a three-box, saloon-style silhouette. Nonetheless, its roof is elegantly executed, tapering gently aft of the doors. When folded, it lies flush below the rear deck.

The design is all about the details

Bentley Continental GTC

In terms of overall styling, this second-generation car has played it safe. The original 2003 Continental GT reinvented Bentley under Volkswagen Group ownership, so one can’t blame Bentley for not reinventing the Continental GT.

But while the shape is familiar, many details are different. The LED matrix headlights, for example, resemble cut crystal, while the fulsome haunches kick upwards into a subtle spoiler. With overhangs that are shorter at the front and longer at the rear, the whole car looks leaner and more purposeful.

There are some unconventional colours, too. Orange Flame is the obvious choice for extroverts, while Banarto evokes classic British Racing Green – and looks fantastic with the chrome-deleting black pack. Our pick of the paints, though, is Dove Grey, a primer-like shade not dissimilar to Porsche’s Crayon.

Interiors are what Bentley does best

Bentley Continental GTC

Inevitably, the best view of the Continental GTC is from the driver’s seat. Its interior is utterly exquisite, a cosseting cocoon of five-star luxury. Not even Rolls-Royce does it better.

We’re told there are 310,675 stitches in every Continental GTC cabin, although we declined count them. The quilted leather seats are heated and ventilated, and have a built-in ‘neckwarmer’ (à la Mercedes-Benz Airscarf) for top-down driving. Usefully, the central armrest is also heated, just in case your left elbow catches cold.

Beautiful polished wood covers the dashboard and doors, or Sir can specify the new Côtes de Genève textured aluminium, inspired by Swiss watches. Reassuringly, there’s also plenty of Bentley’s trademark knurling: a machined metal finish that makes handles, stalks and switches feel deliciously tactile.

Elegance isn’t simply a veneer…

Bentley Continental GTC

Equally impressive is how the GTC’s cabin combines the fundamentally opposing forces of tradition and tech. The convenience and infotainment features you’d expect are brilliantly integrated beneath a (literal) veneer of olde worlde charm.

The main talking point is the Toblerone-shaped rotating display, which shows plain veneer when parked, then flips to a 12.3-inch touchscreen when the start button is pressed. If you fancy what design director Stefan Sielaff calls a “digital detox”, the third side comprises three analogue gauges: outside temperature, compass and chronometer.

The main instruments are a configurable TFT display, similar to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. Audiophiles will adore the 18-speaker Naim hi-fi fitted to our test car (an indulgent £6,500 option, a 10-speaker system is standard). Apple Carplay connectivity is included, but there’s no Android Auto.

Its speed could worry a supercar

Bentley Continental GTC

Beneath that prominent prow lies the same 6.0-litre turbocharged W12 fitted to the Bentayga Speed. Billed by Bentley as ‘the most advanced 12-cylinder engine in the world’, it drives all four wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

The stats are truly startling – as is the shove between your shoulder blades. With 635hp, this 2,414kg cabriolet blasts to 60mph in 3.7 seconds, topping out at 207mph. Many six-figure supercars are scarcely any swifter.

To save fuel, the engine seamlessly deactivates six of its cylinders under light loads. Quoted economy is 22.8mpg, although we managed 18.9mpg on a variety of roads.

On the road, it feels utterly effortless

Bentley Continental GTC

That variety included the famous mountain route from Marbella to Ronda (sadly now heavily policed, with a 60kph speed limit) and a loop through the rocky hills around Zufre. Here, on Teflon-smooth roads untroubled by tourist traffic, we could finally let the W12 off the leash.

With a thumping 664lb ft of torque from a toe-tickle above tickover, the Bentley makes light work of steep inclines and dawdling Seats. The dual-clutch ’box doesn’t have the treacle smoothness of the old torque converter, but it’s infinitely quicker and more intuitive. The manual shift paddles almost seem redundant.

Few cars, then, make so little fuss about going fast. Yet unlike some super saloons, the GTC isn’t all speed and no sensation. On writhing roads carved into the hillsides, it was also riotous fun.

The suspension makes more torque than the engine

Bentley Continental GTC

Key to this surprising agility is iron-fisted body control, courtesy of Bentley Dynamic Ride. The 48-volt system uses computer-controlled anti-roll bars to keep the car flat when cornering. Its electric motor alone generates up to 959lb ft of torque – around 50 percent more than the engine.

Well-weighted steering, a benign chassis and huge 10-piston front brakes (at 420mm, the largest iron discs of any production car) mean the GTC can hustled with confidence. Ironically, we preferred the waftier, looser-limbed Comfort mode to the slightly brittle Sport on twisty Tarmac.

And comfort is a grand tourer’s raison d’être, after all. Riding on huge 21-inch wheels (22s are optional), the car seems to crush the road surface into submission. If anything can solve the UK’s pothole crisis, it’s the Continental GTC.

It’s quieter than old Continental GT coupe

Bentley Continental GTC

Quietness is also an essential ingredient of long-distance comfort and, here again, the Bentley doesn’t disappoint. With the roof up, it’s even more hushed than the previous-generation coupe. Folding hard-tops – who needs ’em?

With the roof open (which is how we drove at least 90 percent of the route), you can have a conversation at 70mph without raising your voice. Keep the side windows raised and there’s very little turbulence inside the cabin, too.

We’re less convinced by the noise of the engine. It’s very obviously turbocharged, with an intake whoosh and the unmistakable hiss of a dump valve. In Sport mode, the exhaust also braaaps abruptly like a Volkswagen Golf R. Past experience suggests the forthcoming V8 will sound more characterful and cultured.

Forget Clarkson: this is the ultimate grand tour

Bentley Continental GTC

Minor quibbles and hefty price tag aside (our car was £210,925 including options), the Continental GTC is difficult to fault. It fulfils its brief of being the ‘definitive grand tourer’ admirably. After a full day on Spanish roads, we emerged fresher than a Seville orange.

Among rivals, both the Aston Martin DB11 Volante and Ferrari Portofino provide a similar sense of occasion, but neither matches the Bentley for comfort. The BMW 8 Series, meanwhile, simply doesn’t feel special enough.

The old fashioned idea of a grand tour has largely been lost, but given the choice of crossing Europe by budget flight or Bentley, the GTC wins hands-down. Roof down and W12 up front, it’s a fine way to fly.

Verdict: 5 stars

The 635hp Bentley Bentayga Speed is the world’s fastest SUV

Bentley Bentayga Speed world's fastest SUV

It’s no small thing these days to say you produce the world’s fastest SUV. But Bentley is making that claim for its new 190mph Bentayga Speed.

The new model is due to debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

Monster stats

Bentley Bentayga Speed world's fastest SUV

‘Speed’ has, for more than a decade, denoted a decent performance upgrade for your chosen Bentley.

The badge saw the Continental GT first surpass 600hp. Now, Bentley’s SUV has been given the Speed treatment, its 6.0-litre W12 upgraded to 635hp and 664lb ft of torque.

Bentley Bentayga Speed world's fastest SUV

What kind of performance does that translate into? Well, it means this luxury SUV will hit 62mph in 3.9 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 190mph.

Fitting that the Speed should take the crown as the fastest SUV in the world. That being said, we’re not sure it is…

Remember Lister got its mitts on the Jaguar F-Pace to create the LFP? It claims the 666hp fettled F-Pace will top 200mph. At present, we’re more inclined to take Bentley’s word, but we’re up for a drag race if Lister is game.Bentley Bentayga Speed world's fastest SUV

To help it stop, the Bentayga Speed comes with new carbon ceramic discs that can deliver 6,000Nm of braking torque.

They also save 20kg over standard iron items. Not hugely significant, it must be said, in a car that tops two tonnes…

Looks that kill

The big Bentley was never much to look at, was it? Fortunately, the Speed gets some spicier exterior addenda to reflect its added potency.

A bigger rear spoiler is evident, alongside a smattering of Speed badges,  smoked lights and the massive 10-spoke 22-inch wheels.

Bentley Bentayga Speed world's fastest SUV

Inside, the Speed gets more sporty look, with lashings of Alcantara and carbon fibre.

The total horsepower of Premier League parking lots is about to take a leap.

Bentley Advanced Connectivity offers 5G internet speeds in your car

What does the car of the future look like? Is it electric? Almost certainly. Is it autonomous? Probably. Is it connected? Absolutely. But better-connected cars are what Bentley customers want right now. And what Bentley customers want, they often get.

That’s where Bentley Advanced Connectivity comes in. We could all find ourselves passengers in our own cars at some point, but a good portion of Bentley owners have been ‘back-seat drivers’ throughout the marque’s 99-year history. That makes Bentley the perfect carmaker to begin carving out a connected future.

“It’s normal that Bentley is looking at these kinds of things because of who our customers are and what they need,” said Hamid Qureshi, connected car product manager at Bentley.

What is Bentley Advanced Connectivity?

Bentley Mulsanne Speed

Bentley Advanced Connectivity is super-strength wi-fi that turns a Mulsanne into a “luxury automotive office and entertainment space”. That means your 4K video or very important Skype business call will stay smooth on the move. 

“Our customers, in particular, have a need,” continued Hamid, “whereby they’re often being driven somewhere, and the back of our cars is used as an office or entertainment space. That means data-intensive work, content streaming or otherwise.

“Whenever we’re in a fast moving object like a plane, train – or a Bentley – it’s difficult to keep connected. Wi-fi loss, signal loss… we all have different experiences of this. We wanted to provide a solution here and now.”

How does it work?

Bentley has partnered with Californian satellite communications company Viasatt to develop an in-car router. Interestingly, it takes advantage of improvements made in global connectivity via one of Viasatt’s secret military applications. 

The installation itself is a three-SIM router mounted in the car with two wi-fi antennas and eight – yes, eight – LTE antennas. Six are active and two are dormant – future-proofing for heightened internet speeds to come.

That router can connect to any super-fast wi-fi hotspot on the planet, be it at your home, office or yacht. Yes, Hamid cited a yacht as a possible connectivity, er, anchor.

You can expect speeds up to 50mbps when sat still. That’s more or less equivalent to the upcoming 5G signal strength.

The future of connected tech

For reasons that sound a lot like “we’re not showing you our hand”, Hamid ducked questions about the pie-in-the-sky autonomous concepts we’ve seen of late from the likes of Volvo and Renault. His only comment was that if it makes sense for the industry to be investigating something, Bentley probably is as well.

Bentley Advanced Connectivity is the functional gestation of that kind of future. Advancing and improving the experience of the passenger, not just in a traditional ‘luxury’ sense, but also in technological terms.

“We’re very much keen to frame it around the customer, understand his or her needs and wants. We want to centre it around the customer’s lifestyle.

“We within Bentley know that the industry and the infrastructure is gearing up. It’s not ready. It’s good to look at the technology but we need to know what our customers need now.”

A Bentley thus-equipped will offer industry-leading wi-fi strength anywhere on Earth. It’s not a film-set fantasy from Blade Runner or Minority Report, but rather what we all want here and now. It’s also something we’ll likely see in our conventional cars at some point. Not before Bentley customers get it first, though…

Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but Bentley Advanced Connectivity will be available from next year.

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McLaren

Pride of Britain: Four Brits in top ten financed luxury cars

McLaren

British marques are at the forefront of luxury car wish lists in Britain, according to JBR Capital, with four out of the top 10 most-financed prestige cars on their records hailing from the UK. The second most prolific was German, with three cars, including two 911s.

The list features everything from Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche, plus Nissan with the comparatively humble GT-R. Yet none manage to surpass the McLaren 570S and the Range Rover Vogue in their popularity among luxury car shoppers.

The Macca and the Range Rover represent a near-perfect two-car garage, with the big Rangie making for a lovely day-to-day ‘hack’ and the McLaren the ideal weekend wheels.

The Vogue is a relative steal to finance, too, at less than £1,000 per calendar month with a £7,900 deposit. The McLaren is rather more pricey, at over £1,800 per month with a near-£15,000 deposit contribution required. Still, that debunks any criticism that the Range Rover nears the top of the list for its comparatively low price alone.

Still, they both beat out modern era luxury car staples with the Audi R8 languishing in fourth, the Porsche 911 Turbo in seventh and the only Ferrari on the list – the 458 Spider – all the way back in tenth. The McLaren 720S and the Bentley Continental GT fortify Britain’s standing further down the list, at a respective eighth and sixth place.

“Britain may not have won the World Cup this summer, but it’s on top of the automotive world. The ‘Made in Britain’ tag is still highly sought-after among our high net worth clients” said Darren Selig, executive chairman at JBR Capital.

“While you might expect wealthy owners to rush to Ferrari and Lamborghini dealers, it’s actually McLaren and Land Rover where we’ve had the most demand for finance packages so far this year.”

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Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

Right now, there are around a thousand Bentleys for sale on Auto Trader, with prices ranging from £6,500 to £290,000. You can thank Premier League footballers for the number of Continental GTs available to buy, but what if you’re not a six-figure earner? We’ve created a list of bargain used Bentleys, some of which you can buy for less than £10,000.

Bentley Eight: £6,495

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

This is the cheapest Bentley for sale on Auto Trader, which is rather apt given that it was the company’s entry-level model. At first glance it might look like the more expensive Mulsanne, but the Eight is set apart by its slotted grille, steel wheels and cloth upholstery. Not that the original owner was prepared to sacrifice a few luxuries, adding alloy wheels and leather seats, presumably when new. This 1986 example has been off the road since 2015, but the vendor claims that it “purrs at speed”.

Bentley Brooklands: £9,450

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

For what it’s worth, this is the second cheapest Bentley on Auto Trader: a 1996 Brooklands, powered by the same 6.75-litre V8 Rolls-Royce engine. As a 1996 car, this example benefits from the light-pressure turbo, boosting the power output to 300hp, enabling it to sprint to 60mph in just 7.9 seconds. The MOT expired in February, and the ABS light is on, but this chunk of old Britannia could be yours for £9,450.

Bentley T2: £10,990

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

If the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow is a bit ‘end of the pier’ for your liking, the Bentley T-Series is a more elegant affair. Bizarrely, the Bentley and Rolls-Royce were priced identically, meaning more buyers opted for the Spirit of Ecstacy rather than the Flying B. This T2 was registered in 1977, but the MOT history can only be traced as far back as 2016. If it’s good enough for James May…

Bentley Continental GT: £19,990

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

If the thought of a £10k Bentley is sending you off in search of the safety of a PCP deal on a new supermini, how about a £20k Continental GT? Launched in 2003, the GT was based on the Volkswagen Phaeton but built in Crewe, with Bentley charging a six-figure sum for its new model. This is an early example, but it has worn its 96,000 miles extremely well.

Bentley Arnage: £20,450

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

OK, so the Continental GT might be a bit ‘footballist’ for some people, but the Arnage retains a certain charm and elegance. As the sister ‘ship’ to the Rolls-Royce Seraph, the Arnage was initially powered by a BMW-sourced 4.4-litre V8, before the VW takeover saw it replaced by a 6.75-litre unit. This is an early car, but with 39,000 miles on the clock, the 4.4-litre engine has hardly broken sweat.

Bentley Azure: £64,950

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

No, this Bentley Azure isn’t what you’d call cheap, but it represents better value than the Mk2 version, which will set you back upwards of £90,000. We like it because, subjectively, it’s nicer looking than the second-generation Azure, while the previous custodian owned it for 10 years. There are just 52,000 miles on the clock, and the 64 images would suggest that it has led a very easy life.

Bentley Turbo R: £9,990

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

It’s not often you see a red Bentley, let alone one with a price tag below £10k. The Turbo R arrived in 1985 as a replacement for the Mulsanne Turbo, with the fitment of Bosch fuel-injection adding 30hp to the total output. This 1990 example has 62,000 miles on the clock and is said to have “an amazing history”.

Bentley Series I: £22,500

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

This Series I is the oldest Bentley for sale on Auto Trader. In reality, it’s little more than a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud with a Bentley badge, not that this is necessarily a negative point. Indeed, Bentley outsold Rolls-Royce, making the Series I easier to source. This 1956 example is up for £22,500 and has a mere 52,000 miles on the clock. Buy now and enjoy a summer of wafting along to classic car shows.

Bentley Mulsanne: £9,995

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

With 140,000 miles on the clock, somebody has spent an awful lot of money on fuel over the Mulsanne’s lifetime, but what a way to travel. The seller claims that the 1992 example “attracts a lot of attention”, which isn’t hard to believe when you consider the size of the thing and the gold paintwork. Yours for £9,995, which includes the private plate.

Bentley Mulsanne: £11,995

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

We had a second £10k Mulsanne lined up for this slot, but somebody snapped it up before we could complete the gallery, which suggests that bargain Bentleys don’t hang around for long. This one is a little more expensive, but the seller claims that it’s one of 17 right-hand drive Mulsanne S LWB models. The fact that the registration mark doesn’t reveal any MOT history would suggest that it might have returned to its original G-plate.

Bentley Arnage: £18,000

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

If you fancy a change of career, this Bentley Arnage Red Label has been used as a bridal car by the vendor and has around 60,000 miles on the clock. The last service was completed in 2017 at a cost of £2,000, while the spec includes electric rear seats, parking sensors, soft-close boot lid, satellite navigation and an original Bentley umbrella. All of which means you’ll have no trouble finding the church and you can even escort the bride under an umbrella when you get there.

Bentley Bentayga: £123,990

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

A bargain? Perhaps not, but it’s interesting to see the prices of used Bentaygas on Auto Trader. New, you’d spend upwards of £135,800 on a Bentley SUV, but few cars will leave Crewe as standard. Indeed, this Bentayga left the factory with a few tasty extras, including the brilliant W12 engine – a £30,000 option when new. All of a sudden, that £124,000 price tag looks a little more reasonable.

Bentley Turbo R: £18,000

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

If you can’t stand the thought, let alone the look, of the Bentayga, this 1989 Bentley Turbo R will be a tonic. It has just 37,000 miles on the clock, which will explain why it is one of the more expensive Turbo Rs for sale on Auto Trader. The MOT history is a bit patchy – there’s a mileage anomaly in 2007, followed by a gap of four years – but the seller says it has the certificates to substantiate the mileage.

Bentley Flying Spur: £18,999

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

This strikes us as an awful lot of car for the money, and the figures below the advert description make for interesting reading. A top speed of 199mph, a 0-60mph time of 4.3 seconds, CO2 emissions of 495/gkm, and average fuel economy of 19.2mpg, to name just four. Brave pills and deep pockets might be required.

Bentley T2: £14,995

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

Brewster Green: arguably one of the most quintessentially British paint colours ever created. It lends this T2 an air of sophistication, shifting it away from a wedding car or faded 70s entertainer vibe. The number plate says it all: ‘WOW’.

Bentley Arnage: £17,995

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

This Bentley Arnage screams wedding car, but look on the bright side: at least you’ll be able to generate some extra income to pay for the fuel bills.

Bentley Continental GT: £21,500

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

When new, somebody would have paid £110,000 plus options for this Bentley Continental GT, but 14 years on it’s available for the price of a Ford Mondeo ST-Line. Sure, the Mondeo would be the sensible option, but this 6.0-litre Bentley would be more fun.

Bentley Brooklands: £20,000

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

The advert for this Bentley Brooklands contains a number of cliches: “must be seen”, “one of the best examples out there” and “collector’s dream” are all present and correct. Sadly, the seller stopped short of saying “first to see will buy”. Yours for £20,000.

Bentley Continental GT: £19,999

Bargain used Bentleys you can buy now

“Please do not mistake this car for a standard model, the first owners paid over £150,000 for it as they chose almost every available extra,” says the seller. The list of options is very, very impressive. Combine this with the low mileage and the price tag, and we reckon it’s the most tempting proposition of all the Bentleys featured here. As always, inclusion doesn’t represent an endorsement, so please do your homework before parting with your cash.

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Bentley S1 Continental

Elton John’s Bentley offered for sale

Sir Elton John Bentley

Whenever a classic car formerly owned by a famous rock star comes up for auction, there’s a temptation to lace the report with half-baked references to their lyrics and songs. But you won’t find any cheesy nods to Sir Elton John’s back catalogue in our preview for the sale of this Bentley S1 Continental Sport Saloon.

Instead, we’ll just say that if you have the funds required to meet the pre-auction estimate, and you’re successful in the Bonhams Bond Street Sale, you can tell everybody this is your car.

According to Bonhams, Sir Elton once described the Bentley S1 Continental as “The most beautiful car, I think, that’s ever been designed.” High praise indeed, from a ‘Rocket Man’ who has owned a succession of exotic and illustrious cars, including a Jaguar XJ220 and a number of Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce models.

But Sir Elton wasn’t the first owner of the 1957 Continental. Instead, it was sold new to a Mr Madi in Cheshire, before being shipped to Gambia. It soon returned to the UK, changing hands a few times before ending up in the hands of the most celebrated musician ever to be born in Pinner.

The year was 1976, and with 20 years and many owners to its name, the Bentley was in need of restoration. Sir Elton sent it to Weybridge Automobiles for a bare metal respray, complete refurbishment of the interior, and mechanical tweaks.

Sir Elton sacrificed nothing in pursuit of perfection, adding power steering, air conditioning and – perhaps fittingly – a modern Alpine stereo system. The former chairman of Watford FC kept it for 25 years, before selling it to another ex-football chairman, Alan Sugar.

Paying over the odds

Lord Sugar Bentley

Not that Sir Alan (these were the days before he became Lord Sugar) was particularly enamoured with his purchase. Commenting in The Times, Mr Sugar said: “It’s not easy being a man of the people – not when you’re sat behind the wheel of a vintage Bentley.

“Elton John stitched me up with this Bentley. I bought it at auction – on the phone. Bid against myself, I reckon. Done up like a kipper, I was.”

Lord Sugar paid £196,250 for the Bentley at a Christie’s sale in 2001, after Sir Elton auctioned off 20 vehicles from his fantastic collection. It made the rock legend around £2m, with Sir Elton commenting “There’s obviously a lot of money to be made from secondhand cars.”

Six years later, the car went under the hammer again, making just £144,500 at Bonhams’ Olympia sale. Time to fire your motoring adviser, Lord Sugar?

The Bentley – which is one of just 431 S1 Continentals ever built – is expected to fetch between £400,000 and £500,000 at the Bond Street Sale on 2 December 2017. After his previous experience, we doubt Lord Sugar will be feeling the love tonight.

Gallery: Bentley S1 Continental Sport Saloon  

2018 Bentley Continental GT

2018 Bentley Continental GT makes UK debut

2018 Bentley Continental GT

We first saw the new Bentley Continental GT at the Frankfurt Motor Show – but now it’s been launched in the UK at a glitzy event in London.

Customers, journalists and VIPs descended on the Jack Barclay showroom in Mayfair to get their first glimpse of the 2018 Bentley Continental GT on UK soil. Designed and engineered at the firm’s Crewe plant in Cheshire, Bentley is hoping the new Continental GT will follow the success of its Bentayga SUV.

Underpinned by VW Group’s MSB platform, the Continental GT is closely related to the latest Porsche Panamera. Bentley’s 48-volt electric Dynamic Ride system powers active anti-roll bars in a bid to improve handling without comprising comfort.

Power, all 635hp of it, comes from a revised version of Bentley’s 6.0-litre W12. It’ll hit 62mph in 3.7 seconds, and 207mph flat-out. Cylinder-deactivation tech combined with a new dual-clutch transmission means it’s more economical than before – emitting just 278g/km CO2 and returning 23.2mpg on the combined NEDC cycle. A V8 will follow, while a hybrid version is also rumoured.

A new 12.3-inch digital display appears from the dashboard when the engine starts, while the rest of the interior is an impressive brand of British craftmanship and new technology.

“Today is a defining moment for Bentley Motors,” said former Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer at the Continental GT’s Frankfurt reveal. “Today we build on our recent success story and look to the future with a new car that will set new standards in luxury grand touring. Today we introduce a car that is the ultimate in extraordinary design, technology and innovation.

“When Bentley launched the original Continental GT in 2003 it established an entirely new market segment – the modern luxury grand tourer. Today, I’m convinced that we are redefining this segment again. It is an honour to replace a car that has – for 14 years – been the benchmark against which all other grand tourers are judged.”

Prices are yet to be confirmed, but Bentley dealerships are already taking deposits for the new Continental GT. Deliveries will begin early in 2018.

Watch: 2018 Bentley Continental GT revealed in London

In pictures: 2018 Bentley Continental GT

>NEXT: 2018 Bentley Continental GT revealed – the world’s most luxurious GT car?

Where sports stars buy their supercars

Romans InternationalIf you’re a Premier League player with six – or even seven – figures to splash on a supercar, Romans International is a good place to start. A short drive from the Chelsea FC training ground, this Surrey showroom is well known for its sports star and celebrity clientele. Join us for an awe-inspiring tour.

McLaren P1Romans International

Centrepiece of the Romans showroom at the time of our visit was this ‘Volcano Yellow’ McLaren P1. One of 375 made, the hybrid hypercar is the spiritual successor to the McLaren F1 – arguably the greatest sports car ever made.

This particular P1 has just 690 miles on the clock and comes with various McLaren Special Operations (MSO) modifications, including six-point racing harnesses and carbon fibre interior panels. Now sold, the asking price was around £1.5million.

Ferrari EnzoRomans International

A Formula One car for the road, the Enzo was Ferrari’s 651hp V12 flagship. We wonder what its namesake, company founder Enzo Ferrari, would make of this 10-year-old car’s 137-mile odometer reading. Would you dare drive it?

This was the last of 24 Enzos imported to the UK (Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay famously owns a black one). It’s made regular trips to a Ferrari dealer for servicing – but only in a covered transporter, of course. Asking price? Around £2.5million.

BMW M4 GTSRomans International

The venerable M3 celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016 and, instead of a cake, BMW cooked up the special edition M4 GTS. A lightweight, track-focused adversary for the Porsche 911 GT3, the GTS boasts 500hp and the least speed-hump-friendly splitter we’ve ever seen. Still, it looks cool.

At £139,950, this 870-mile GTS is about £20,000 pricier than a brand new example. Then again, it does come with plenty of extras, including the Club Sport package (Acid Orange rollcage, harness belts, fire extinguisher) and semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.

Tesla Model XRomans International

Launched in 2016, the Tesla Model X is another car that seems too new to be second-hand. The high-performance electric SUV has six seats and radical ‘falcon wing’ rear doors. A range of 336 miles on a single charge means this 495-mile example may have only been recharged once.

A price tag of £139,950 puts the Tesla in the same ball-park as high-end Range Rovers and the Bentley Bentayga diesel. However, this 100kWh P100D version easily outguns them both. Switch to Ludicrous mode and you’ll blast to 60mph in a synapse-scrambling 2.9 seconds.

Porsche Cayenne GTSRomans International

A (slightly) more sensible SUV comes in the shape of the Porsche Cayenne GTS. With a 440hp twin-turbo V6, sports car agility and space for five adults plus luggage, it’s all the car a family-oriented footballer needs. We love the special-order Carmine Red paint, too.

Porsche is notorious for extra-cost options, and the first owner of this Cayenne didn’t hold back. Boxes duly ticked include the panoramic sunroof, 14-speaker Bose hi-fi, keyless entry, heated steering wheel and – oh yes – red seatbelts. This 2015, 17,500-mile car is yours for £62,950.

Porsche 911 GT3 RSRomans International

If the 911 GT3 RS was a footballer, it would be a star striker, with silky skills and a devastating kick. Under that lofty rear wing lurks a 500hp 4.0-litre flat-six, redlined at 8,800rpm. Our only qualm is the absence of a manual gearbox – even as an option.

Finished in the RS signature colour of Lava Orange, this car has covered 2,785 miles since new in 2015. The first owner must be feeling rather smug: it’s nearly doubled in value since then. You’ll need £217,950.

McLaren 570SRomans International

P1 a bit ‘Premier League’ for your pocket? The McLaren 570S is more Championship. Don’t imagine that makes it slow, though: 0-62mph in 3.1 seconds and a 204mph VMax are enough to keep even the speediest soccer stars interested.

This 2016 570S looks surprisingly subtle in Blade Silver. Well, until you open those show-stopping dihedral doors. With 4,400 miles on the clock, it’s priced at £144,950 – on par with a new example.

Mercedes-AMG GT SRomans International

Fancy a more traditional supercar? The Mercedes-AMG GT S is large of V8, loud of exhaust and hirsute of chest. It looks especially menacing in launch Edition One spec, with matte-grey paint, black alloys and a carbon fibre front splitter.

Having 510 rampaging horses under your right foot means you’ll be glad of the optional ceramic composite brakes – and perhaps that fixed rear wing, too. This car is barely run-in, with 1,350 miles under its wheels, and was priced at £115,950 (now sold).

Bentley BentaygaRomans International

We’ve just driven the new Bentley Bentayga diesel, and very impressive it is too. But if you’ve already got a WAG and a mock-Tudor mansion, only the full-fat W12 petrol Bentayga will do. It’s the ultimate luxury SUV – at least until the Rolls-Royce Cullinan arrives in 2018.

There’s no such thing as a ‘standard’ Bentayga, but this example is more special than most. Optional Mulliner Driving Specification includes quilted leather seats and door panels, while the audiophile-spec Naim hi-fi is a must-have. Priced at £159,950 (now sold), it’s a handy way to skip the six-month waiting list for a new one.

Abarth 695 BipostoRomans International

Forty thousand pounds for a Fiat 500? No, that isn’t a misprint. But the two-seat Abarth 695 Biposto is more like a pint-sized GT3 than your mum’s 500 Pop. Its lengthy spec list includes 18-inch OZ alloys, an Akrapovic exhaust, Brembo brakes, carbon fibre bucket seats and a titanium strut brace.

Better still, this delivery-mileage 2016 Biposto is a Ferrari Edition – one of 99 made. The ultimate rocket shopper? All it needs are a couple of prancing horse shields on the front wings…

Bentley Continental GT Supersports 2017

Bentley has launched the world’s fastest four-seat car

Bentley Continental GT Supersports 2017Bentley has revealed a new Continental GT Supersports model that will do 209mph and accelerate from 0-60mph in just 3.4 seconds – and because it has four adult-sized seats, this makes it the fastest four-seater the world has ever seen. And the fastest-accelerating Bentley ever.

That’s for the coupe model: the Continental Supersports Convertible is also rapid, with its 205mph max speed making it the fastest four-seat soft-top on the planet. Brave pills for those sitting in the back are optional.

The Continental Supersports is the new range-topper for Bentley’s long-running GT car, aimed at giving the range a fillip as its years advance (a new one is due next year). And what a fillip: the monster 6.0-litre W12 engine has, for example, been tuned up to 710hp, and now delivers a whopping 750lb-ft of torque.

Big new turbos create more boost and deliver the extra 80hp – and because it’s now so potent, Bentley’s had to uprate the engine’s innards to cope, with a new cranktrain including specced-up main and conrod bearings. Is it any wonder, when pulling power is now up by a staggering 160lb-ft? That’s more than many family hatchbacks produce overall…

Bentley Continental GT Supersports 2017

Other record-breaking details include the largest front brake discs fitted to any car in the world, made from carbon ceramic to haul the big, heavy Bentley down from such colossal speeds. Wheels are massive 21-inch forged rims: together with the brakes, they save 5kg per corner. For another drop-in-the-ocean weight-saving, you can spend big on a titanium exhaust to cut 5kg from the car’s mass.

Even so, says Bentley, it’s the lightest iteration of the current Conti GT yet launched.

The previous limited-run racing-inspired GT3-R is to date the most dynamic Conti GT ever. Bentley’s hoping this new Supersports will take over – by fitting some of the tech from the GT3-R, including its special torque vectoring system.

Suspension has been lowered and stiffened (but not so much as to spoil the ride), the stability control is less intrusive and the all-wheel drive can vary drive front-to-rear but has a rearwards bias in normal mode.

Spotting the new Continental GT Supersports

Bentley Continental GT Supersports 2017

There should be no missing the potent new Supersports. Bentley’s fitted new front and rear bumpers that feature carbon fibre splitters and diffusers, side sill extensions and a set of carbon fibre bonnet vents. The lights have a dark tint and all the brightwork has a black finish.

The spoiler you see here is optional, as is the extended front splitter. Bentley says it boosts the aerodynamic balance of the car, so sounds like a must-fit to us. Less essential is the gloss-finish carbon fibre engine cover. We’d pass on the optional side decals too.

Bentley Continental GT Supersports 2017

Inside, Bentley’s created some unique tri-colour upholstery choices for the diamond-quilted seats. There’s Supersports branding aplenty, including all the seat head restraints, and among the 10 trim veneers is a carbon fibre option. That’s just the starting point, says Bentley: hand it over to its Mulliner division and the world’s your oyster.

The new cars go on sale in April, but they won’t be cheap. The Continental GT Supersports will cost £212,500, with the Convertible priced at £233,800. What price a record-breaking car though, huh?