This is an original one-owner car driven an average of about 2,000 per year since new. Its green exterior has not been repainted, and the tan interior leather has not been dyed, but the wood finish does show some signs of wear upon close examination. The car has been periodically service and garaged. The owner expressed confidence that it could be driven across the country with no reservations. All power options—seats, windows, sunroof, etc.—are fully operational.
After contributing the BR1 and BR2 aero engines to the war effort, W.O. Bentley formed Bentley Motors Ltd. on January 18, 1919. The 1920s was a golden era, but with little more than a decade producing passenger cars and race cars that won Le Mans in 1924 and consecutively from 1927 to through 1930, Bentley Motors Ltd. went into receivership and was clandestinely purchased by Rolls-Royce Limited in 1931. After WWII Rolls-Royce moved all automobile production from Derby to the works at Crewe, which still builds Bentley automobiles to this day. After his company was acquired by Rolls-Royce, W.O. Bentley went to work testing the new cars made at the Rolls-Royce works at Derby that he called “Rolls-Bentley” in trials and by driving them on the continent. These cars became known as “Derby Bentleys”—marketed as the “Silent Sports Car”—and W.O. reflected in his autobiography: “My period at Rolls-Royce had driven home once again to me the value of time for development: time, that luxury that only the most solidly founded firms can afford.” “That’s how Rolls-Royce achieved standards of perfection against which other companies, without their reserves of capital, couldn’t compete.” In the postwar era, Bentley and Rolls-Royce continued to produce 4-door saloons of similar design. By the time the Bentley Mulsanne was introduced in 1980 (along with its Rolls-Royce counterpart, the Silver Spirit), the company began to take steps to create distinctive performance differences for the Bentley marque by adding turbo charging and other features. After running its course, by the mid-1990s a new design was well underway; what would become the Bentley Arnage. During this time, Rolls-Royce (both the motorcar company and the aerospace giant) enjoyed a collaborative relationship with BMW—a natural extension was to incorporate a BMW power plant for the Arnage and the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph. But it wasn’t a “done deal”—the company also evaluated alternatives that included V8s from Mercedes-Benz and GM. While the 4.4 liter BMW V8 was finally selected, it was determined that the new Arnage (named after the Arnage Corner at Le Mans) was going to benefit from further engineering from Cosworth (a subsidiary of parent Vickers) that included a twin-turbo system. This achieved a top speed of nearly 150 mph—an extraordinary performance marker for a luxury sporting sedan.
The Bentley motorcar heritage is unique—from Le Mans wins in 1924 and consecutively from 1927 to through 1930, to its recognition in popular culture (e.g., in Casino Royale, James Bond drove a 4 ½ Litre Blower Bentley, which was “his only personal hobby.”) That legacy has been inherited by the Bentley motorcars of the modern era, with their continued attention to luxurious, high-performance motoring. This Arnage embraces all that heritage and spirit, and its original and maintained condition makes it an ideal motorcar for daily use as well as for long-distance touring.
Editor – SAH Journal; The Society of Automotive Historians
ex-President – Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club