Back in the day, a 1991 Bentley Turbo R would set you back the equivalent of $332,000 or so in today's dollars (around $170,000 at the time). And yet, while some cars have appreciated beyond their as-new sale prices, this Turbo R is listed for just $12,995. The difference from new is staggering, but perhaps not unexpected.
For one, the Turbo R debuted at the dawn of a new horsepower age – a bit like the one we're going through now. Widely available fuel injection and more reliable turbocharging systems meant that you didn't need massive, naturally-aspirated V8s guzzling gallons of fuel per minute to crest the 300-400 horsepower mark. The Corvette ZR-1 of the era made 375 horsepower even without forced induction, although it cost a pretty penny and had a special Mercury Marine-built, Lotus-designed quad-cam engine. It was, in its day, a monster.
The Turbo R was a different sort of monster. A monster in a pinstriped suit, with exquisite tastes and a quiet, menacing air. Despite weighing more than 5,000 pounds, its turbocharged six-and-three-quarter-liter V8 made 325 horsepower and 450 lb-ft when new. Car and Driver tested one when new, and it hit 60 mph in 7.7 seconds – legitimately quick for the time. Like any Bentley, it'll ride that torque wave like a classic steam locomotive cruising across a European valley.
That is, if it's running right. There's no denying that these hand-built and complex cars require specialized and expensive attention. While the purchase price is less than a new subcompact, the car is still more than 25 years old — and parts, well, they haven't depreciated along with the rest of the car.
Which shouldn't put you off a Turbo R if you have the funds to keep it running. Find a reputable British car specialist to inspect the car. After the inspection, that mechanic should be comfortable running you through realistic costs down the road, and how much it'll take to set any deferred maintenance right. This is one of those vehicles that requires you to go in with your eyes wide, wide open. But choose wisely, and you'll have an unparalleled motoring experience for a purchase price that'd make your Hyundai Accent-driving friend jealous.
Find more great cars in Autoblog's Readers' Used Car Classifieds.