C’mon, Guys, Bentley Used to Build Race Cars

2011 Bentley Mulsanne

Bentley reminded the audience of its racing heritage on Sunday when it revealed its latest Mulsanne to the world at Pebble Beach.

Sitting next to the covered Mulsanne was a piece of history: a 1930 Bentley 8-Liter, an almost impossibly enormous and thoroughly period vehicle that still somehow evokes the same design language—large round headlamps tight to the grille, a play on oval shapes—we recognize today as being uniquely Bentley.

Now, it seems, the company is content to build luxo-tanks for the very wealthy and those whose tastes incline to the ostentatious. Witness the Mulsanne, now the company’s top-of-the-line replacement for the Arnage (Bentley has always been good at crafting ultra-smart Euro-names; Mulsanne is the long straightaway at Le Mans).

Well, a lot of people seem to love this car, judging by the raves in the auto press today. Still, not all reactions have been favorable, including my own, as you may have gathered. Here’s a comment from Afaque on TopGear’s article:

Looks like the premiership rooney-esque chavs are having their influence on the Bentley. I love the original Bentley 8-litre for its raw brutalness. This is just a chavved up shiny blingy thing… Get rid of those shiny wheels, the shiny grills, the shiny side mirrors and the shiny paint and all the other shiny bits and then it might look a little more tasteful!

vintage-bentley-continental-coupeWell, my friend, it looks like the 1985 Bentley Mulsanneblingmeisters are in charge. They aren’t about to produce anything as elegant as the vintage ’50s Continental coupe (right), or even the 1985 Mulsanne (below right), which had a certain staid-but-perfect style about it. The new car’s headlights are simply the last word in the brutality of bling. Imagine facing down these searchlights on the M-6 at night. Blimey.

Please give us your thoughts on the Mulsanne’s looks. Yes, we know it’s a great car mechanically, but who buys such vehicles, and why?

—jgoods

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