What Exactly Is Bentley Planning for the Centenary Special Edition It’s Bringing to the 2019 Geneva Motor Show?
There are two possible options on the table, both of which have me excitedby Kirby, on
Bentley’s cooking up a mysterious special edition model that it plans to unveil at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. Details are scarce at this point, but we know that this special edition model is arriving just as the British luxury carmaker celebrates its 100th anniversary. Bentley released a 30-second video, teasing the arrival of a model that could become one of Bentley’s most iconic special edition models. It would certainly be a fitting way to kickstart the company’s centenary, and if the teaser video showed us anything, this special edition model could be a loose successor to a model that has largely been forgotten in the annals of Bentley’s long and rich history as one of the premier auto brands in the world
As far as 30-second teasers are concerned, Bentley did it exactly right. It didn’t reveal anything — actually, it barely revealed anything — but it gave us what could be a meaningful clue at the last second. The teaser starts off like any normal teaser. For a split second, we see an old grainy video of the start of a car race before it cuts to a close-up of the special edition model’s hood with Bentley’s logo right smack in the middle. Look at it closely and you’ll see two interesting parts of the car. One is the creased line above the logo, presumably indicating a creased hood. The other is a mesh-looking two-tone front grille below the Bentley logo. The video pans lower, revealing more of the front grille as the video spends the next few seconds cutting between that scene and more clips of the same age-old race “24-hour road race.” Right at the 17-second mark, the reveal happens. The two-tone mesh grille isn’t what it seemed like in the beginning. The white part of the grille was actually the number “9,” displayed ever so clearly right smack in the middle of the front grille. The teaser then ends with a simple “100 extraordinary years” logo, alluding to Bentley’s centenary.
The video elicits one reaction, or one question, in this case.
What does that “9” mean? Could it be a special edition version of the Bentayga?
The SUV did carry the codename “EXP 9 F” before it became the Bentayga. Bentley’s also a trigger-happy company when it comes to special editions, and while there have been a few SE models of the Bentayga already, it would be a huge call on Bentley’s part if it created a special edition SUV to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Nobody, and I mean nobody, would see that coming.
If it’s not the Bentley Bentayga, it boils down to either the Mulsanne or the Continental. The Mulsanne would be an interesting choice because it stands as the company’s flagship sedan. If Bentley wants to roll out a special edition model to celebrate its 100th anniversary, wouldn’t the Mulsanne be the perfect choice as the company’s flagship model? Besides, there are more than enough special edition Continental models in the market today, whether it came from Bentley itself or its personalization arm, Mulliner.
A new special edition Continental that celebrates the company’s 100th anniversary doesn’t sound as exciting compared to a special edition Mulsanne.
On that end, there are two other options, and this is where that this is where that “9” on the front grille comes into play. What if it’s a nod to what Bentley enthusiasts refer to as “the most famous Bentley in the world.” That model is the No.9 Bentley “Team Blower” race car. For those who aren’t familiar, the Team Blower No.9 is a 4.5-liter Blower that competed in the 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans. It didn’t win any races, but its provenance is secure, in large part because it was regarded as the most famous of the four Blowers that Bentley created for racing purposes around that time. A special edition Bentley inspired by the No. 9 Blower would certainly fit with the treatment of the teaser, specifically the cuts to the old racing videos, but there’s another possible option on the table, one involving a Bentley model that was launched in 1984 and offered until 1992. That model has largely been forgotten, but its name is what actually triggered my Spidey sense. Remember the Bentley Eight?
As I mentioned, the Bentley Eight was launched in 1984 and was produced until 1992. It was pegged as the automaker’s “entry-level” model at that time. It was based on the Mulsanne model at that time but was deemed as somewhat of a more affordable version of the flagship sedan. It carried a naturally aspirated 6.75-liter Rolls-Royce V-8 engine that produced 197 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Ok, so it wasn’t all that powerful, and it was introduced with cloth upholstery, which isn’t exactly what you’d expect from a luxury brand like Bentley. But the Eight was a popular model. It was so popular that Bentley actually expanded its market for the Eight to the Europe and U.S. markets after initially planning to offer it only in the U.K. market. Aesthetically, the Eight distinguished itself from the Mulsanne by sporting a wire-mesh front grille, which was a departure from the vertical slats front grille that the Mulsanne carried. Not to point out the obvious, but did you see what kind of grille the mysterious Bentley special edition was wearing?
It looked like a wire-mesh grille to me, though, to be fair, all of Bentley’s current models are sporting the same grille design.
Obviously, all of this is speculation on my part, sprinkled with a whole lot of “what ifs.” But part of speculating is stepping on a hill, planting a flag, and going with your gut instinct. Well, my gut instinct is that this special edition Bentley has something to do with the No. 9 Blower or the Bentley Eight. I’m not prepared to die on this hill — not yet, at least — but I’m planting my flag anyway. Prove me right, Bentley. Please?
Read our full review on the 2019 Bentley Continental GT.
Read our full review on the 2019 Bentley Bentayga.
Read our full review on the 2019 Bentley Mulsanne.