We must confess to being rather partial to a special edition Bentley. High-end limited-run models are often kinda cheesy, but Bentley always manages to pull off the difficult trick of combining specialness with understatement and just a hint of menace. Like an twitchy MMA fighter in an immaculately tailored suit. This latest special edition Bentley Continental GT is a case in point.
The Bentley Continental GT Convertible Number 1 Edition by Mulliner – phew – is the last in a trio of special editions celebrating the Crewe marque’s centenary year. It follows on from the W.O. Edition Mulsanne and Number 9 Edition Continental GT – both also very special, understated and slightly menacing.
Number 1 is a reference to the vintage Bentley seen in the images here, known as Blower No.1. As that tag suggests, it was the first of the iconic, supercharged ‘Blower’ Bentleys. The project to supercharge the existing 4.5-litre Bentley was instigated by legendary Bentley Boy Tim Birkin in the late Twenties.
Company founder W.O. Bentley was against the idea, but Birkin found backing from wealthy horse racing enthusiast Dorothy Paget. No.1 served as the development car and would race at Brooklands in ’32 with Birkin at the wheel, setting an Outer Circuit record average speed of 137mph.
Though W.O. subsequently disassosicated himself and his company from the Blower project, Number 1 is quite rightly regarded as one of the most important cars in the marque’s history. When it last came up for auction in 2012, it sold for more than £5 million.
Drawing on the Blower’s red bodywork and black wheels, the Conti GT Number 1 has a red and black theme. It’s available in Dragon Red or Beluga, with a Claret or Beluga roof, Cricket Ball or Gloss Black 22in wheels, and Cricket Ball or Beluga upholstery.
The exterior is also adorned with gloss black and carbonfibre trim, gold-plated Centenary badges on the front wings, ‘jewelled’ fuel and oil caps and the ‘Number 1’ grille.
Inside, there’s Heritage leather or the seats and door cards, turned aluminium on the centre console, gold-plated organ stops, Grand Black veneer and Alcantara on the steering wheel and gearknob.
On the screenless side of the rotating dashboard display there’s a Jaeger clock and a wheel spinner motif crafted from metal taken from one of Blower Number 1’s pistons – they were changed during restoration.
Finally, the Conti GT Number 1 gets the Centenary Pack – unique LED puddle lights and badging on the rear, wheel centres, gear lever, steering wheel and key fob.
Nothing has changed mechanically, though that’s hardly a complaint when there’s a 6.0-litre, twin-turbo W12 engine under the bonnet, serving up 635hp and 664lb/ft of torque. Worlds are built with less power. 0-62mph is dealt with in 3.8secs and top speed is 207mph.
Just 100 examples of the Conti GT Number 1 will be available worldwide. We’ve no idea how much it costs, but bear in mind that the standard car costs £176,000. We wouldn’t be surprised if you’d have to write a cheque for around a quarter of a million.
By Graham King