Bentley Continental GT

bentley conti GT speed

Price when new (2003-2004): $ 353,000 – 400,000

Price now (May 2014): $ 120,000 +

For some unknown reason I have had this faint idea in the back of mind that someday I will be driving around in an all wheel drive Bentley Continental GT. Wishful thinking I hear you say, and I dare say you are right. The thing is I would probably plump for an Aston if I had that amount of dosh, something like $400-500,000 in today’s market, so it has always been a questionable dream for me. Why the Bentley? It ticks all the boxes of course. It’s beautifully made, looks a million dollars, has an extremely powerful engine and is superbly fast. But it’s not an Aston.

Bentley-Continental-GT-steering-wheel

Back in 2003 when it was introduced, it was the first ever Bentley to use mass produced parts. Though much of it was still hand built, the marque’s new owners, VW, forced the brand to use the same platform as its wonderful Phaeton and share its brand spanking new 6 litre twin turbo W12 engine. Because of this, Bentley took more orders for its new car than any other it had ever built and has since gone on to be its biggest seller globally. It is perhaps because of the numbers sold that resale values plummeted and today in the UK you can get hold of a 2004 built model for as little as £25-30,000. Here in Australia, it is not quite as rosy, mainly because the car was sold at astronomically inflated prices in the first place, much like other high end makes and a practice I have whined about on this site before.

However, we weren’t immune from the depreciation issue and so the price you can get a GT for now is almost within our grasp, that is if you are a company director and have a company car budget that would get you a high spec Merc or Bimmer. So, consider this Mr. MD, or CEO, why bother getting a car that everyone is driving around in, when say, for $130-150,000, you can now get a 2004 or 2005 Continental GT with around 40,000 on the clock. Yes it’s second hand, but you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference alongside a new one, and who in their right mind would have spent over a third of a million bucks and not look after it properly? The car is essentially brand new!

2013 bentley conti gt interior
Courtesy of bharathautos.com

 

Aha, I hear you say, think of the costs and how much of a money pit it will be. Utter tosh, I would reply, the car has a reputation for being over-engineered and almost nothing has been known to go wrong with them. I say almost nothing, because there a few little issues, but as you can read under the Research category, these tend to be sensor or electrical issues, and very minor ones at that. There will always be one owner out there who will moan, but look around the forums and you will notice that at least 85% of buyers have been utterly, ecstatically happy with their purchase. Even those who bought second hand.

As with any second hand car, super or not, if it is not maintained regularly then you are asking for trouble. Yes a Bentley will cost more to service than a BMW. Yes a part, however innocuous, will astound you with its price, though not quite as eye watering as a Lamborghini or Ferrari, thanks largely to the mass production, and because of the size of the engine and the lack of space under the bonnet, even a spark plug change can mean that the engine has to come out of its bay. And yes, you will be visiting the gas station more than you’d like.

used-2004-bentley-continental_gt-basetrim-4162-11470398-21-640

The good news however is that there are no belts to worry about with this engine. The lack of kilometres driven even for an 8 year old car mean it is still within warranty, and if it is not, you can purchase an extra 1, 2 or 3 years from Bentley for peace of mind.

So perhaps my whimsical dreams are not so whimsical. Perhaps its because they are so much cheaper than I thought, so much more within reach, that I could actually be driving around in one. Perhaps that is why my brain has singled the Conti GT out. Perhaps someone will offer me the stewardship of a fortune 500 company and a car allowance to boot. Perhaps …

Fast Facts

Engine – 6 litre Twin Turbo W12

Power – 423 kW; 567 bhp

Top Speed  – 317 km/h / 197 mph

0-100 km/h – 4.4 seconds

Fuel Consumption – av. 14 L/100 km (but you’d be driving like your Gran)

Price – 2004 model with 40,000kms – $120,000 +

Research – http://wp.me/p3rCxt-kk

 

By: CONCAVO WHEELS - CC BY 2.0
By: CONCAVO WHEELSCC BY 2.0

 

 

 

 

Affordable Iconic Cars: Jaguar XJ X300-X350

The Equalizer

I live in an apartment over looking a car park. I’m not proud of it mainly because everyone else who lives in this part of Artarmon has a beautiful house, a lovely garden and overlooks a new and expensive car in their driveway. But it’s home and the wife and kids like it. Why I am not so sure, we don’t even have a garage for gods sake.

Anyway, recently someone has started parking his white, colour-coded Jag XJ in the car park. From my expansive deck, if you can call the size of a postage stamp expansive, it looks like an XJ X300 and too new to be a Series III. Staring at it took me back some 3 decades to my youth and a certain TV programme called the Equalizer. I liked the show because of the car. It’s sleekness suited the gritty streets of New York and cosseted the driver from the cold and steaming alleyways the protagonist always seemed to frequent.

Edward Woodward, aka Robert McCall, a retired secret agent, drove a black XJ6 Series III, upgraded in 1986 and again in 1988. It must have been the ’88 version that stuck in my memory because it doesn’t seem as dated in my minds eye as an earlier example. Perhaps it was the drilled alloys on fatter tyres than the standard mid-80’s version wore.

Anyway, I started to think that there were quite a few cars from my misspent youth that I still yearn for, and today the beautiful thing is that they should now be very much within reach.

So lets start with the Jag.

The series 3 XJ6 does look a tad passé now, and after the truly awful XJ40, it did eventually spawn the X300, and later the X358 which is one sexy car. Not that I’m holding out much hope that the latter can be classed as affordable here in Sydney. The UK most certainly but not here, so let’s focus on the X300 and if we are lucky the X350.

By: Jaguar MENA

Plenty of X300’s built between 1994 and 1997 abound, ranging from a mere $8000 up $17000, all either 3.2 or 4 litre versions and mileage as high 230,000.

Moving up a step, there are a few X350’s, the most expensive coming in at $75k for a 4 year old example and representing a saving of over 50% from new. It’s the 2.7 V6 Turbo Diesel version, the same engine as in my Disco, and all the better for it.

For $30k, and definitely within our range, you could plump for a ‘06 model X350 with just over 100,000km on the clock. This one comes replete with the 3 litre normally aspirated engine and so a little more expensive to run.

If we halve that price again, we could get hold of a ’94 X300 Sovereign, the top of the range at the time, with the 4 litre donk and less than 95,000kms on the clock.

Or better still, in WA there is a ’99 XJR X308 with only 101,000km on the clock for a mere $24k. Ok, this is not an XJ6, it’s a supercharged V8 but who’s counting.

So do you see where we are going with this? Absolute luxury and a ride to die for in a rapid limousine is now so much within our grasp it is a little like Tony Abbott, or not funny

But are we about to give ourselves a headache? No, not really, the biggest rule of thumb being to avoid the XJ40. Forums and various Jag enthusiast sites suggest that the factory in Crewe finally brought this elder statesman’s quality and reliability in line with its competitors. Only a couple of nagging doubts exist with cylinder liners and timing chain tensioners. A compression test will help diagnose the first and a rattle when starting from cold will give you a hint for the latter. If ignored it will cost you an expensive engine rebuild, but as ever, seeking a full service history will allay most of your fears.

It turns out the XJ in the car park is an X308 XJR and looks fabulous close up. Hopefully I will hear from the owner shortly and I can regale you with tales of awe.

By: The Car Spy
By: The Car Spy