Prices have already tanked, but how worthless will these old Bentleys become?
Last week's entry in our depreciation series examined the early Lamborghini Gallardo, a car which has seen a massive fall in price as the years have gone by. This week we are examining another VW Group product, the Bentley Continental. Like the Gallardo, the Continental as we know it today started off as a 2004 model with the two-door GT. Despite packing a twin-turbocharged 552-horsepower W12 engine these early Continentals are now incredibly cheap. Just how cheap are we talking here?
We pulled up a search for the cheapest Continental GT and Flying Spur models, and we found prices that started at around $40,000 for 2004 and 2005 GTs and just under $40,000 for 2006 Flying Spurs. For the same price you would be lucky to get a brand-new BMW 3 Series with around 180 horsepower and some options. Clearly these used Continentals represent a huge bargain (in the power department) when you compare them to new cars. Even a used 7 Series, which may cost around the same depending on the year, can't match the sheer power of the Bentley's W12 engine. So what makes these cars so cheap? Like the Gallardo, the market for these Bentleys has crashed because no one is to pay the price it costs to keep them running.
When you buy a normal used car like a Ford, Honda, or Toyota, in addition to purchasing parts from a local dealership (which may get expensive), you can also pop down to your local auto parts store and find what you need. With a Bentley, things are much more complicated. Although the Continental does have some blue collar roots as a Volkswagen product, you will find that parts will not be easy to come by. Even if you are capable of working on that complex W12 engine, sourcing parts will be no easy task. The engine was shared with the Volkswagen Phaeton and the Audi A8, both of which suffer from the same maintenance-cost-driven depreciation. If we still haven't talked you out of buying one, then keep reading.
You still may be enticed at the thought of buying such a prestigious car for the same price as a basic BMW or fully loaded Toyota Camry. As far as engine and comfort are concerned, your neighbor's "regular" car won't be able to match the supple hand-sewn British leather and effortless W12 power. However, if your neighbor has almost any car with an infotainment system that was built after 2008 they probably have you beat in the technology department. It's not that the Bentley was devoid of technology. It just didn't do tech very well. The Continental's built-in infotainment is so bad by today's standards that it borders on being unusable. It kind of makes you feel bad for the poor, rich bastard who owned the car before you.
The head unit was lifted from the VW parts bin and looks like it could be a touchscreen. However, if you do try and put your finger on it you will notice that no matter how hard you press nothing will happen. The Continental instead relies on giant side buttons that correspond to different zones on the screen and a nob at the bottom. We have no idea why Bentley designed such a complicated system, and newer Continentals have thankfully been updated. Judging by the prices of some Bentley models from the 1980s and 1990s, the Continental may become even cheaper. In 10 year's time, we wouldn't be surprised if you could pick up a 2004 Continental GT for around $20,000. But for your wallet's sake, don't do it!