Crewe. Just the name stirs the emotions of any auto enthusiast. Beginning at Crewe in 1946, Bentley has been producing some of the most aspirational production vehicles ever available. To celebrate 60 years at Crewe, Bentley will showcase the Continental GT Diamond Series Coupe and the Arnage R Diamond Series on a whirlwind tour through Australia, New Zealand, and South-East Asia and also feature the Speed 8 race car. If you are lucky enough to be close enough to experience this event, be sure to take full advantage of the opportunity to see some of the most-coveted vehicles on sale today up close and in person.
See press releases and more pics of the Diamond Series Continental GT and Arnage R after the jump!
New Bentley Continental GT 'Diamond Series' celebrates Crewe factory's 60th anniversary
This year, Bentley Motors celebrates 60 years of hand-assembled car production at its historic factory in Crewe. To commemorate Crewe's Diamond Jubilee, Bentley is announcing a limited series of the Continental GT coupé, the most successful car in the company's illustrious history.
"Bentleys have been renowned for their sporting performance and craftsmanship since the very start of the company, way back in 1919," says Bentley Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen. "Since the move to Crewe in 1946, Bentley has created a long line of sporting models with an unrivalled standard of craftsmanship that reflects the unique skills of the Bentley workforce."
The Continental GT Diamond Series, based on the 2007 model year Mulliner Driving Specification, features an exclusive package of enhancements that, in keeping with the Bentley tradition, combines sporting performance with cosseting luxury. Many of these features are unique to this very special model including carbon ceramic brakes, a production-first for Bentley, and new 20-inch, 14-spoke alloy wheels.
"The Continental GT coupé remains true to the Bentley traditions of performance, luxury and craftsmanship while showcasing the modernity of today's Bentley model range. It has been a magnificent success since its launch in 2003," says Dr Paefgen. "The GT Diamond Series is a fitting tribute to the skills of the Bentley workforce and reinforces Bentley's growing reputation for advanced technology."
Production of the Continental GT Diamond Series is restricted to 400 cars for worldwide distribution and shares the limelight with the Arnage Diamond Series to form a double celebration of the 60th anniversary of Bentley production at Crewe. (See separate press release for details of the Arnage Diamond Series.)
New carbon ceramic brakes further improve all-round performance
The braking system of the standard Continental GT already features the largest diameter brake discs of any production passenger car on sale today. The new Continental GT Diamond Series further extends the car's performance boundaries by using new carbon ceramic brakes, a first for a production Bentley.
Boasting 420 x 40 mm carbon-silicon carbide, cross-drilled front discs and 356 x 28 mm rears, the new brakes are even larger than the standard GT. The new brakes offer significant performance benefits together with a 23 kg reduction in rotating unsprung mass benefiting steering response and handling.
"The standard Continental GT has the biggest brakes fitted to any production car, so braking performance is already superb," says Member of the Board, Engineering, Dr Ulrich Eichhorn. "The carbon ceramic brakes deliver a major improvement in braking performance and pedal feel, while their lighter weight benefits both vehicle handling and steering response. Bentley believes in building the ultimate. Carbon ceramic brakes are another example of this philosophy."
The Continental GT Diamond Series features new open-design 9J x 20-inch, 14-spoke forged alloy wheels giving a good view of the handsome new brakes and their impressive black, 8-piston front callipers. More importantly, these bigger wheels improve road holding as well as brake cooling.
Evolved from the Mulliner Driving Specification
The Continental GT Diamond Series is based on the Mulliner Driving Specification, designed by Bentley's bespoke coachbuilding division in direct response to customers' requests for a GT with a more overtly sporting, contemporary character.
The Diamond Series features derived from the Mulliner Driving Specification include quilted rather than straight-fluted leather seats, quilted door casings, solid drilled alloy brake and accelerator pedals, leather and chrome sports gear lever – with knurled top – and dark stained walnut or piano black wood, for a sportier appearance.
Externally, the Diamond Series is distinguished by unique tread plates and badges and a Mulliner alloy fuel filler cap.
The magnificent W12 twin-turbo 6-litre, 552bhp engine is unchanged, as is the six-speed automatic transmission with manual change mode and paddle shift. The four-wheel drive system with Torsen differential, and air suspension with continual damping control benefit road holding and primary safety. As with the normal Continental GT, the Diamond Series model has an official top speed of 198mph – although some independent tests have suggested its true maximum is over 200mph.
The three additional Diamond Series colours are Moroccan Blue (bright blue), Anthracite (grey black) and Meteor (steel blue grey). It is expected that over 80 percent of customers will opt for one of the special colours, although the existing 15 Continental GT colours may also be specified.
Continental GT: an ongoing Bentley success story
"Our research shows buyers of the Continental GT value, above all, the Continental GT's sporty and classical design, its awesome performance, the appeal of the Bentley marque as well as its sheer practicality," says Dr Paefgen. "Eighty percent of all Continental GT customers are new to the Bentley marque, migrating not only from top-end luxury coupés but also supercars such as Ferrari – attracted by its mix of high performance and extraordinary refinement. More than two years after sales began, worldwide demand for the Continental GT remains strong."
Continental GT Diamond Series
Power and Performance
Engine Twin-turbo 6-litre W12
Power 552bhp (411kW) @ 6100rpm
Torque 479lb ft (650Nm) @ 1600rpm
0-60mph 4.7 seconds (0-100km/h – 4.8 seconds)
0-100mph 11.25 seconds (0-160km/h – 11.15 seconds)
Max Speed 198 mph (318km/h)
• Carbon ceramic brakes, providing significantly lower weight and exceptional performance. Inspired by technology developed for the world of motor sport, this is the first time these brakes have featured on a Bentley
• 20" 14-spoke alloy sports wheels, exclusive to this model
• Choice of three additional, exclusive exterior colours
• Unique insignia to exterior
• Unique treadplates bearing the legend 'Celebrating 60 years of manufacturing in Crewe'
• Choice of upgraded veneers: Dark Stained Burr Walnut or Piano Black (additional veneers available at extra cost)
• Drilled alloy sport foot pedals
• Sporting gear lever finished in knurled chrome and hide
• Diamond quilted hide to seat facings, door and rear quarter panels
• Embroidered Bentley emblem to seat facings
• Indented hide headlining
• Mulliner alloy fuel filler cap
New Bentley Arnage 'Diamond Series' celebrates 60 years of Crewe craftsmanship
To celebrate 60 years of production at the historic Crewe factory, Bentley is announcing a unique version of the Arnage R – the Bentley Arnage Diamond Series. Only 60 of this limited series Arnage will be built, showcasing Crewe's unrivalled blend of craftsmanship and precision engineering.
Special features of the Arnage Diamond Series include diamond-quartered wood marquetry and diamond-quilted leather seat upholstery. Externally, the Diamond Series is distinguished by a stainless steel matrix to the front bumper, new larger diameter 19 inch x 8J twin-spoke alloy wheels, to a unique design, and Union Flag badges to the front wings. A new range of Heritage paint colours is also available.
The Arnage Diamond Series also sees the reintroduction of the 'Flying B' mascot, a feature that last adorned the radiator of a series production Bentley in the late 1970s.
"This collector's model has one of the most beautifully crafted cabins fitted to any Bentley," says Chairman and Chief Executive, Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen. "It clearly demonstrates the exceptional craftsmanship skills of the Crewe workforce, the culmination of 60 years of experience over several generations. The diamond-quartered marquetry of the Arnage Diamond Series is truly unique in the motor industry."
While the Arnage Diamond Series commemorates 60 years of Crewe production, Bentley's history goes back much further. Before the first Crewe vehicle, the Mark VI, was produced in May 1946, Bentley Motors built vehicles in Cricklewood, London (1919-1931) and in Derby (1931-39).
The Arnage Diamond Series makes its international debut alongside the other limited edition Bentley celebrating the Crewe factory's Diamond Jubilee – the Continental GT Diamond Series. Half of the total Arnage Diamond series production – 30 cars – will go to the USA, Bentley's biggest market. Nineteen cars have been earmarked for the UK.
Unique diamond pattern marquetry
An Arnage typically involves 65 hours of painstakingly handcrafted woodwork to create its elaborate cabin and has more wood than any other 'standard' Bentley in history.
The use of diamond-quartered marquetry in the Arnage Diamond Series is a first even for Bentley's craftsmen and women and is unique in the motor industry. Mirrored straight-grain woodwork, as specified on most Arnage models, matches two identical grains of wood in perfect symmetry – which is challenging enough. The diamond design uses four pieces of straight grain woodwork in a symmetrical pattern. This feature is used on the waist rails and folding rear picnic tables of the Diamond Series.
The diamond pattern is created in mirrored straight-grain oak veneer within a band of maple inlay. It is surrounded by burr oak veneer. "The European oak is perfect for the diamond pattern," says Doug Dickson, Bentley's Member of the Board, Manufacturing. "It has a nice tight grain and naturally, the wood all comes from the same tree."
In common with all Bentley Arnage customers, buyers of the Diamond Series may specify different wood veneers. Bentley Mulliner, the company's personal commissioning division, can do just about anything, as long as it's practicable and legal. "Some customers' cars have required in excess of 250 hours of wood craftsmanship," says Mr Dickson.
Beautiful diamond-quilted hides
The hides of the Diamond Series also feature a diamond-quilted pattern and seats may be piped in contrasting or co-ordinating colours. As with all Bentleys, only finely grained, supple, premium A-grade leather is used. State-of-the-art lasers ensure cutting accuracy of 0.1 mm on all the 400 leather panels in an interior, using fifteen cowhides. The hides are stitched by 24 skilled sewing machinists
Twenty-seven standard hide colours are available, but any colour may be specified by the customer to match a favourite personal hue, item of clothing or even a nail varnish. Materials other than cowhide can also be used, such as ostrich leather, cavalry twill, West of England cloth (as specified by Her Royal Highness The Queen for the Golden Jubilee State Limousine) silk and velvet.
The steering wheel – one of the most challenging jobs to assemble – can take up to 15 hours to make, because of the complicated hand stitching and frequently specified wood inlays.
Other interior features of the Arnage Diamond Series include veneered steering wheel control surrounds, head restraints embroidered with the Bentley emblem, a '60 years' front console badge, 'Diamond Series' etched tread plates and companion mirrors.
Popular customer enhancements are likely to include a wood and leather wheel, auto massaging front seats, leather-trimmed cocktail cabinets, a DVD system and an electric rear blind.
400bhp Arnage R engine is standard – but 450bhp also available
The new Arnage Diamond Series is based on the Arnage R and is available with either the 400bhp or, at extra cost, the 450bhp version of the Crewe-designed and produced 6.75 litre, twin-turbocharged V8 engine.
Standard external features include new 19 inch x 8J twin-spoke alloy wheels, the application of a stainless steel matrix to the front bumper and Union Flag badges to the front wings. A windscreen shade band, Bentley 'B' badge on the rear pillars, the Mulliner 'jewel' fuel filler cap and a chromed rear number plate surround further distinguish the Arnage Diamond Series.
The Arnage Diamond Series also sees the reintroduction to series production of the 'Flying B' mascot, a feature that last adorned the radiator of the Bentley T Series in the late 1970s.
Seven Heritage paint colours from previous Bentley model generations have been made specially available for the Arnage Diamond Series as standard. Of course, any of the 40 colours from the standard Arnage palate may also be specified and, naturally, Bentley's Mulliner personalisation department can paint and specify the vehicle in just about any way the owner fancies. Additionally, customers may opt for chrome finished alloy wheels, a chromed radiator shell (standard in North America) and chromed door mirrors.
Arnage Diamond Series Specification
Power and Performance
Engine 6.75 litre twin-turbocharged V8
Power 400 bhp (336kW) @ 4100 rpm
Torque 616 lb.ft (835 Nm) @ 3,250 rpm
0-60mph 5.9 seconds (0-100km/h - 6.3 seconds)
0-100mph 15.4 seconds (0-160km/h - 15.3 seconds)
Max Speed 155 mph (250km/h)
• 19"x8J twin spoke alloy wheels - painted finish
• 'Flying B' radiator mascot
• Stainless steel matrix to bumpers
• Shade band to windscreen
• Front Sunroof
• 'Union Flag' badges to front wings
• Bentley 'B' badge to rear pillar
• Jewel fuel filler cap
• Chromed rear number-plate surround
• Current Arnage or heritage paint colour
• Burr Oak veneer
• 'Diamond' quartered marquetry with maple inlay
• Folding picnic tables to front seat-backs
• Veneered door panels
• Companion mirrors
• Veneered steering-wheel controls surrounds
• 'Diamond' quilt design to seat upholstery
• Piping to seats in coordinating colour
• Bentley wings emblem embroidered to head restraints
• '60 years' front console badge
• Diamond Series etched treadplates
Further Diamond Series Choices
• 19"x8J twin spoke alloy wheels - chromed finish
• Chromed radiator shell
• Chromed door mirrors
• Burr Walnut Veneer in lieu of Burr Oak
• Arnage R seats with vertical fluting
• Contrast piping to seats
Suggested additional Arnage Equipment
• 450 bhp (336kW) engine
Not Thailand, Japan, China, India
• Wood and leather steering wheel
• Massage front seats
• Leather-trimmed cocktail cabinets
• DVD system
• Electric rear blind
Bentley sales in 2005 of around 8,500 cars were up about 30 per cent compared with 2004. This growth reflects the successful introduction of the Continental Flying Spur plus the continued strong demand for the Continental GT coupe and Arnage.
With the benefit of a broader product range – to be augmented by the Continental GTC and Azure convertibles in the next 12 months – the company's focus moves to consolidating its achievements to date and developing a sustainable business for the long term, while maintaining the exclusivity of the Bentley marque.
Arnage, the flagship saloon of the Bentley range, achieved worldwide sales of around 700 cars in 2005, up about 16 per cent year-on-year. With its appeal to the exceptional customer, Arnage achieved segment leadership in the UK and Continental Europe. In excess of 90 percent of customers are opting for the high degree of personalisation offered by Bentley's bespoke Mulliner Division.