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Motoring: Bentley Continental SC - 1998

The car that's driven Bentley's immense success since Volkswagen took control in 1998, the Continental GT has spawned the Flying Spur saloon and gorgeous GTC convertible, and helped Bentley to its biggest output in its 88-year history: more than 10,000 cars sold in 2006. Footballers and rappers have joined blazer-wearing businessmen as Bentley customers and the manufacturer is busy opening new dealerships worldwide. Shaped by a team led by Bentley design chief Dirk van Braekel, the Continental GT is a modern but characterful interpretation of Bentley, full of muscle and with hints of the 1952 Bentley R-Type Continental - the fastest four-seater of its day. Inside, every surface where you might expect plastic is beautiful leather and the real wood veneers are worked to the highest standards. Many controls are chromed, with traditional knurling for an indefinable little fingertip stimulation.

Unveiled at the Paris Salon in September 1998 the Bentley Continental SC was the first new Bentley following the takeover of that company by Volkswagen (Wolfsburg, Germany). The new creation was based on the Bentley Continental T, the most powerful Bentley ever. With a maximum torque of 835 Nm at 2,150 rpm the Bentley Continental SC did not show exactly the Continental T's most impressive figure of 875 Nm but there was a clear distance to its brethren's Bentley Continental R and Bentley Azure 750 Nm. The eye-catching new feature was the styling of the new model in the form of Sedanca Coupe. This design had enjoyed a fine reputation during the 30ties and well into the 50ties as offering the pleasure of open touring with the added advantage of more torsional rigidity of the body than drop head coupes could achieve with their fold down top.

Two glass-shelfs formed the front part of the Bentley Continental SC's hood and these could be removed and stowed in the boot. A third fixed perspex roof was fitted to the rear part of the hood. As so much had been borrowed from a glorious past it came as no surprise that the new model was by a certain margin more expensive than any other Bentley motor car - there had been the case with its famous ancestors too like for example the Gurney Nutting Sedanca Coupe on Bentley Mark VI chassis, the most expensive coachwork on Bentley during the early post-war period.

To invest a considerably higher amount wasn't too difficult because in due time the choice was added to select the Bentley Continental SC Mulliner, introduced at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show. The name of the famous coachbuilder was no coincidence because the company's coachbuilding division was keen to convert almost each of these huge coupes into a unique motor car incorporating any extra a discerning customer had specified. The powerful 6.75 litre V8-engine providing 420 bhp and 875 Nm torque (hitherto only to be found on the Bentley Continental T) became standard.

The Bentley Continental SC remained in production for but a rather short period as in March 2000 the model was withdrawn from manufacture. Rolls-Royce & Bentley Motor Cars explained this had been decided to allow increased production of convertible Bentley Azure and Rolls-Royce Corniche models. Only 72 examples of the Bentley Continental Sedanca Coupe were built, of which just 26 were right hand drive.

Technical Data

8 cylinder 90 degree V-configuration; aluminium-silicon alloy cylinder block with cast iron wet cylinder liners; bore x stroke 104.14 x 99.06 mm (4.1 x 3.9 in), capacity 6,750 cc; aluminium alloy cylinder heads, Zytek EMS3 digital engine control, exhaust driven Garrett AirResearch turbocharger with intercooler, 406hp/300KW ; 4-speed automatic gearbox; independent suspension front and rear with adaptive ride control; ventilated disc brakes, anti locking device; wheelbase 2,959 mm (120.5 in); tyre size 285/45R18; max. speed 152 mph (245 km/h).

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