1989 Bentley Turbo R
October 20, 2008 12:07 PM
When W.O. Bentley reluctantly sold his company to Rolls Royce in 1931, he never dreamed that his marque would become akin to the company's redheaded stepchild. Chief Engineer Mike Dunn joined the company in 1983, and one of his first tasks was to re-imagine the Mulsanne Turbo, which was pretty much a superfast Silver Spirit. Hailing from Ford of Europe where he was in charge of chassis and power train engineering, Dunn retuned the car's suspension for more sporty behavior, stiffening dampers, enlarging anti-roll bars and adding a Panhard semi-trailing rod in the rear. Combined with Bentley's first implementation of aluminum wheels and wider performance-biased tires, the Turbo wasn't merely fast - it handled!
When it debuted at the Geneva Auto Show in 1985, the Turbo R garnered tons of attention for its performance. Critics praised the car as the first Bentley to evoke its Le Mans winning pedigree. Although official figures weren't provided by Rolls, its 6.75 liter V8 output 197 hp with 487 ft-lb of torque for a top speed of 137 mph, and 0-60 in 6.7 seconds - near supercar acceleration for is time. Along with the sensation of a cloud-like ride, thanks to its Girling hydraulic self-leveling system, the Turbo R was as plush as possible. Its meticulously crafted interior featured burr walnut veneer panels, highest quality full hide leather, Wilton carpets, and luxurious sheepskin rugs handcrafted in Manchester for barefoot passengers.
Produced through 1994, the Turbo R went on to become one of Bentley's best selling models of all time, which also makes it relatively easy to find and affordable to buy on the pre-owned market. When the first one rolled onto the American continent in 1989, Jay snapped it up, one of only a handful of cars that he has bought new.