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Bank On A Bentley Published: 24th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Bentley Been around for 50 years but V8 is still a masterpiece and really fast
Bentley First class travel, even nipping down to the shops. Cheap Bentleys can be sadly tatty here
Bentley Ah, the good life! Can be yours,too
Bentley All this for just £12,000…
Bentley … Susupension has needed repairs
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First class travel on an economy class ticket is possible, as owner Paul Bussey explains

I had always hankered for a Bentley Turbo but I wasn’t prepared to let my heart rule my head. Prior to me purchasing my 1991 Turbo R LWB back in October 2004, I looked at 15 cars over a two year period. Paradoxically I was to locate a suitable car only five miles away from home and it was owned by an acquaintance of mine! The dark blue metallic paintwork with parchment leather interior was a highly desirable combination. The car was a LWB model so it had an extra fourinches of legroom in the back, it came with a FSH, mostly main dealer, complete with many servicing bills, and it was heavily optioned with a sliding sunroof, picnic trays, drinks cabinets, CD stacker, and so on. The previous owner Les and his wife Helen had completed a grand tour of Italy in 2003, which for me said much about the car’s overall reliability and tip-top running order. He’d also recently spent £2000 on a major service at a main dealer, too. The price asked was £15,000 and this Turbo R represented an awful lot of car for the money. After a thorough inspection and long test drive, aided and assisted by a friend and marque devotee Tim Buller, I duly purchased the car from Les. I decided to implement a few upgrades and replaced the painted radiator shell and vanes with a chrome shell and stainless steel mesh grille, flying B badge and badge bar. Apart from that, the car remains totally unmodified. While I run my Bentley on a modest budget, make no mistake, these cars can represent big moneyrunning costs, and when it all goes wrong, be prepared to dig deep in your pocket, even when you purchase parts and get help from an independent specialist.

My first expense was to purchase a fully rebuilt alternator which cost £205, not too expensive all things considered, but I remember fitting it wasn’t too easy and it took hours trying to locate the bottom bolt through a spacer! I was incredibly unlucky one day when a rear coil spring broke, that also damaged the driveshaft boot and broke the fuel line too. Inexplicably a pair of pattern coil springs wouldn’t fit, nor would a genuine Bentley pair, so I had to have a set specially made which cost £485. This together with replacing the pair of active ride dampers due to one leaking (£1100 pair– gulp!) and fitting a new drive shaft boot came to well over £2000 including labour, ouch! I hope the front active ride dampers don’t need replacing as they are £950 each… Other repairs have included replacing the front brake caliper seals, not a particularly difficult job, and the seal kit is purchased for both front brakes at £63. Replacement front brake pads are another £90. On another occasion the car refused point blank to start. My Rolls/Bentley specialist engineer Glen Grindrod soon fixed the problem, a broken wire in the fusebox; the bill was £150. I also had to replace the ECMU/ABS relay that cost £92! The 6.75-litre V8 engine requires a good quality anti-freeze and corrosion inhibitor for the cooling system and each year I replenish mine with genuine Bentley fluid. The suspension spheres are also a replacement service item and cost £63 each. A genuine Bentley oil filter is a hefty £23, while replacement Avon Turbospeed 255/65-15 tyres can be sourced for £217 each, but they are generally much more expensive than this. Most of the replacement parts have been purchased from marque specialist IntroCar of Kingston upon Thames who offers a superb speedy service. I’ve covered around 7000 miles in five years in my Turbo R.

Getting behind the wheel remains a pleasure, and represents special quality time to me. Theperformance is simply amazing for a large heavy car weighing in at more than two tons, and, if working right, the active ride suspension is a dream. Right now the Turbo R represents the most fabulous value for money I reckon despite the big bills. Because my car is so heavily optioned, in top order and has always been extremely well maintained (just look at his bank balance-ed), its value is around £12,000 I calculate – which represents a loss of a princely £3000 over the five years. To put this in perspective you write-off double this sum driving a brand new repmobile from the showroom! Incidentally, my car cost £114,000 brand new in 1991 so they certainly represent cracking value for money now, although bear in mind that these executive cars need a proper maintenance budget as befitting their price and status and that can cost the same as a brand new model. Most recent work has been some paintwork rectification, (front valance, sills, boot lid, wheelarches and lower wings) which any classic car used frequently may need attention at some point. This wasn’t cheap but there again it’s protecting my investment – and anyway, who wants to drive around in a tatty Turbo? Fancy running a modern Bentley as a classic? Well it’s possible; budget for £2000 per year including insurance and you won’t go far wrong. The best fuel economy I’ve ever seen has been 23mpg on a run, using cruise control at a steady 60mph. It’s normally nearer 15-18mpg. Also bear in mind you need to fill up with higher octane petrol that’s more expensive than ordinary unleaded. There again I don’t use it everyday so it’s not so hurtful on the wallet.

Overall my Bentley ownership over the past five years has been deeply satisfying. Yes, I could have bought a cheaper example but no doubt any savings upfront would have been negated by even higher repairs and running costs – plus the whole experience would have been tarnished in my mind. Instead I look back over the five years with nothing but pleasure, which is what classic car motoring is all about.

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