Bentley is a brand that has a rich history of racing success, especially at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's most prestigious endurance race. The British marque won the event six times, with the first five victories coming in the 1920s and 1930s. But the most recent one, in 2003, was perhaps the most remarkable, as Bentley returned to Le Mans after a 73-year hiatus and beat its rival Audi with the stunning Speed 8 prototype.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of that historic win, Bentley has created a special edition of its flagship model, the Continental GT. The Bentley Continental GT Le Mans Collection is a limited run of 48 cars, available in both coupe and convertible body styles, that pay homage to the Speed 8 in various ways.
The most obvious feature is the exterior paintwork, which mimics the Verdant green color and the white stripe of the race-winning car. The grille also sports a white number 7, which was the number of the victorious Speed 8 driven by Tom Kristensen, Rinaldo Capello, and Guy Smith. The car also features black and carbon fiber accents, 22-inch wheels, and carbon ceramic brakes with red calipers.
But the real treat is inside the cabin, where Bentley has incorporated some unique elements that evoke the spirit of Le Mans. The most striking one is a genuine part from the Speed 8's engine: half a valve from its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, which is displayed between two analog dials on the dashboard. The valve is surrounded by "Le Mans Collection" lettering and the car's chassis number.
Another nod to the endurance race is a digital 24-hour clock replacing the standard analog. The clock also features six silver wreaths that represent Bentley's six Le Mans wins. The interior is trimmed in black leather and suede-like Dynamica, with gold accents and Le Mans badges on the front wings and sill plates.
The Bentley Continental GT Le Mans Collection is powered by the same 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 engine that propels the regular Continental GT Speed. It produces 659 horsepower and 900 Nm of torque, enabling the car to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 335 km/h. The car also benefits from a dynamic ride control system, air suspension, active dampers, all-wheel steering, and an electronic limited-slip differential.
Bentley has not revealed the price of this exclusive edition, but it is expected to be significantly higher than the $220,000 base price of the Continental GT Speed. However, this might be a worthwhile investment for those who appreciate Bentley's racing heritage and want to own a piece of history.
The Bentley Continental GT Le Mans Collection is not only a tribute to a legend but also a testament to Bentley's craftsmanship and performance. It is a car that combines luxury and speed, elegance and power, tradition and innovation. It is a car that honors the past while looking forward to the future. It is a car that deserves to be driven on both road and track. It is a car that embodies the spirit of Le Mans. @via Bentley.