Just 48 examples will be produced.
Bentley is celebrating its various successes at Le Mans with a new limited edition based on the Continental GT and its drop-top sibling, the Continental GTC. Known as the Le Mans Collection, these exclusive luxury cars have been inspired by the Speed 8 that claimed victory at Le Mans in 2003.
The duo marks two decades since Crewe clinched its sixth victory at the iconic endurance race and, as such, has been given a sporting flair. Under the hood, you'll find the usual 6.0-liter W12 engine, here producing 650 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque, as it does in GT Speed guise. 0-60 mph is dealt with in just 3.5 seconds. Keep your foot nailed to the throttle, and the 12-cylinder Bentleys will surge all the way up to 208 mph (the GT Speed tops out at 198).
All-wheel steering and an electronic limited-slip differential provide excellent handling, improved further by the optional carbon ceramic brakes. This is all good and well, but it's the exclusive exterior and interior embellishments that excite most.
Bentley's in-house Mulliner department examined the legendary Speed 8 and applied key design elements to the limited edition Continental models. The elegant bodywork benefits from gorgeous Verdant Green paintwork, itself enlivened by a Moonbeam racing stripe that flows over the hood and, in the case of the coupe, the roof too.
The Le Mans Collection vehicles also receive the Blackline specification, which supplants the traditional chrome trimmings for a sportier look. Elsewhere, carbon fiber exterior elements have been enhanced with a Moonbeam-colored pinstripe. The wing mirrors, lower front bumper, and the rear "horseshoe" have been finished in Beluga Black.
Up front, the prominent matrix radiator grille has the #7 painted in Arctica White. This is a nod to the 2003 Le Mans winner and the Bentleys that won Le Mans between 1924 and 1930. Interestingly, the British marque notes that the matrix design was originally conceived to protect the radiator from the rough, unpaved Le Mans raceway of the 1920s.
Bentley has finished the exterior off with tasteful 22-inch ten-spoke wheels (painted in black), which conceal the red brake calipers, and '24h' badges. Overall, it's a decidedly sporty-looking grand tourer that is equal parts classy and athletic.
Open the hefty doors, and you'll step into a truly sumptuous interior. Beluga leather upholstery covers just about every surface except for the seat faces, which have been trimmed in napped Dynamica fabric. This grippy material extends to the steering wheel, which is adorned with high-end leather as well. A six o'clock accent tap is a neat touch.
The monochrome black interior receives a trickle of color thanks to the Hotspur contrast stitching. Even though this is a Bentley, you won't find any traditional wood inlays. In keeping with the motorsport theme, the dual inlays on the doors and dashboard are comprised of high gloss carbon fiber and Piano Black veneers. A subtle chrome pinstripe separates the two materials.
It doesn't end there, though. Luxury details abound, with exclusive Speed 8 sill plates and six-wreath treadplates that clue passengers into this vehicle's backstory. On the fascia, you'll find the six-wreath emblem that represents Bentley's six Le Mans victories between 1924 and 2003.
The Continental's gorgeous three-way rotating display has been customized for the Le Mans collection. Owners can still choose to view the analog dials, touchscreen, or dual veneer, but the standard central dial has been replaced with a Vitrine (a display case) that showcases an engine valve from the Speed 8's twin-turbo V8 engine. Following the Le Mans victory, Bentley removed the engine for preservation. 24 of the 32 valves have since been bisected to create a show-stopping exhibit for the Continental Le Mans collection cars.
Finally, the 12-hour analog clock has been replaced by a bespoke digital timepiece - with a 24-hour dial, of course.
Just 48 units will be made available across the globe, making this a very exclusive special edition. There's no word on pricing, but it's safe to assume the Continental GT and GTC Le Mans Collection cars will command serious money.
Interestingly, company founder W.O. Bentley didn't react too well when he discovered that a customer would be entering the Le Mans 24-Hour Race in a private Bentley 3 Litre. "I think the whole thing's crazy. Nobody'll finish. Cars aren't designed to take that sort of strain for 24 hours," he remarked in 1923. Bentley's desire for perfection and success led him to the Le Sarthe raceway eventually, and just a year later, the founder returned and won. The rest, as they say, is history, and a storied one at that.
Earlier this year, the ultra-luxury brand revealed Mulliner-designed Continental models created to celebrate the Bathurst 12-Hour. Other motorsport-inspired Bentleys include the Pikes Peak Continental GT by Mulliner, revealed a few years ago.
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