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Celebrating twenty years of the Bentley Continental GT

At the time of its launch, this creation offered a new and unique combination of beautiful design, supercar performance and unrivalled craft

There’s a reason Bentley Motors remains a marque of choice for powerful and influential figures across the globe – members of the Royal Family, diplomats, CEOs, musicians and athletes among them. Class.

From elegant yet eye-catching design to meticulous craftsmanship, a Bentley is a true mark of class and sophistication, oozing presence and panache. Indeed, since it was founded by Walter Owen (W. O.) Bentley in 1919, Bentley Motors has become one of the most desirable luxury car brands in the world, synonymous with quality British manufacturing across its current covetable collection of five model lines – Continental GT, Continental GT Convertible, Flying Spur, Bentayga, and Bentayga Extended Wheelbase.

A one-of-one Bentley Continental GT S with the London Skyline behind

A one-of-one Continental GT S

Around 4,000 people are employed at its headquarters in Crewe, where all Bentley’s operations, including the design, research and development, engineering and production of its cars, are completed in-house, combining skills handed down through generations with engineering expertise and cutting-edge technology.

One of the marque’s most iconic models, the Continental GT, was first launched in 2003, as the inaugural Bentley of the VW Group. This first-generation model represented a Bentley of the modern era, featuring a number of ‘firsts’ – it was the first Bentley with all-wheel drive and the first to be powered by the mighty 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12 engine.

At the time of its launch, the Continental GT offered a new and unique combination of beautiful design, supercar performance and unrivalled craftsmanship. It was hailed as the fastest genuine four-seat coupé in the world, with a top speed in excess of 190mph (305km/h), and a 0–60mph time of 4.7 seconds (0–100km/ h in 4.8 seconds). With no comparable rivals at its price point, it became a global sensation and defined a whole new market sector.

A one-of-one Bentley Continental GT S with the London Skyline behind from the side

The model has since undergone constant development, and now in its third generation 20 years after it launched, the Continental GT continues to impress motoring connoisseurs and enthusiasts alike, collecting a roster of recent awards, including back-to-back wins at the Auto Motor und Sport Awards in February 2023, where it won the luxury class import category for the second year in a row.

To celebrate 20 years of the Continental GT, the marque has organised a four-month programme of unique models, drives and events that began in April 2023 at the Auto Shanghai show with the exciting debut of a one-of-one Continental GT S. The one-of-its-kind car showcases several bespoke Mulliner features, including commemorative badging, inlays and design motifs, with a striking, magnetic dark-grey metallic exterior complemented by black chrome and black 22in 10-spoke sports wheels, with a splash of red on the brake calipers.

Bentley Logo on silver car bonnet

Bentley Logo on silver car bonnet

Bentley Logo on car wheel covers

The black-and-red theme is carried into the interior, with a duo-tone finish in Beluga and Hotspur leather with Piano Black, and the treadplates proudly display two silhouettes – one of the first generation Continental GT and a second of the third generation.

In Europe, two drive hubs will bring 20 years of design and engineering evolution to life. First- and second-generation Continental GT models from the Bentley Heritage Collection will be available to drive alongside the latest Continental GT family at Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe and in Geneva, Switzerland.

What’s more, a Bentley ‘baton’, created in-house, began a global journey in May, travelling in a variety of Continental GT models and collecting mementoes across Europe, the Middle East, China, Asia Pacific and the US, before returning to Crewe.

To bring a close to the anniversary celebrations, Bentley will reveal a final one-of-one Continental GT inspired by VIN 20001 – the first-ever Continental GT to leave the production line at Crewe in 2003 – at this year’s Monterey Car Week between August 11–18. It may be two decades since it was designed, but, finished in Cypress Green with an interior in Saddle hide and Burr Walnut, like VIN 20001, the Continental GT proves class will never go out of style.

This feature was taken from Gentleman’s Journal’s Summer 2023 issue. Read more about it here…

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