Lease a Bentley, Lease a Legend
If you grew up in the ‘60s, your first encounter with a Bentley might have been seeing it on “The Avengers,” the British spy-fi drama that ran on the ABC network. In it, the bowler-wearing super crime fighter John Steed, played by Patrick Macnee, drove a series of late 1920s Bentleys. But how many viewers knew that Steed’s Bentleys were very much like the ones that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times?
Had Steed been foiling evildoers three decades later, he could have enjoyed the advantage of leasing his Bentleys through Premier Financial Services. PFS has leased more than 1,000 Bentleys – classic and contemporary — with the PFS Simple Lease. Leasing through PFS also gets you a partner who can help in other ways, from having a car inspected to acquiring it at auction and then shipping it to your garage.
Bentley’s story is one told in three acts that, while seemingly disjointed, combine to give this revered marque a colorful history.
Act I: Walter O. and the Bentley Boys
Walter Owen Bentley began building cars in 1921, and in 1924, a 3.0-liter Bentley tourer won the second running of France’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car’s big 4-cylinder engine used an overhead cam, four valves per cylinder and, something W.O. pioneered, aluminum alloy pistons. But the young company struggled with finances.
Enter Woolf Barnato, an entrepreneur who bought a Bentley in 1925 and then, a year later, the company. Barnato, along with a small group of Bentley-owning friends, raced their own cars with success and became known as the “Bentley Boys” for their exploits. Bentley Boys won Le Mans in 1927, 1928, 1929 (a 1-2-3-4 victory) and 1930, with Barnato co-driving the winning car in the latter three.
Barnato also achieved some fame in the “Blue Train Races,” the duels between cars and the French Le Train Bleu from Cannes to Calais. In 1930, driving a Bentley Speed Six saloon, Barnato continued on the ferry to England and made it to London before the train pulled into Calais. The 6.5-liter six chassis accommodated all manner of coachbuilt designs, many using the Weyman system of layering fabric and leather over wood frames produced light bodies.
The Bentley 4.5-liter was the next big four-banger, yielding 110 horsepower in street trim. Just over 700 were built. Compared to archrival Bugattis, the Bentleys were considered crude and were derisively (or affectionately) called “the world’s fastest lorries.” There were also 55 of the supercharged version, a.k.a. “Blower Bentley.”
If you’re in Sarasota, Fla., you may see a certain green 1928 Bentley 4.5-liter Van Den Plas tourer, with “Thunder Guts” painted on its hood, prowling the sun-drenched boulevards. The driver is Brian Johnson, singer for the rock band AC/DC.
Even its domination of Le Mans could not prevent the curtain closing on Bentley’s first act in 1931. While Napier was negotiating to buy the company out of receivership, Rolls-Royce swooped in and scooped it up.
Act II: Birth of the Continental
Bentleys that followed the acquisition were essentially cosmetically altered Rolls-Royce models, and were billed as “the silent sports car.” They were beautiful and successful, with coachwork by Park Ward, James Young, H.J. Mulliner, Hooper, Gurney Nutting and others. Production surpassed 2,400. Bentley also built a handful of Mark V models before WWII.
After the war, the Bentley Mark VI emerged as the first Rolls-built car made in-house, on a shorter version of the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith chassis. Bentley offered the Mark VI as a chassis for coachbuilders, as well. The big inline six could whisk the car to 100 mph, and GM’s Hydra-Matic transmission became available in 1952.
The Mark VI evolved into the R-Type, which retained decidedly pre-war styling and was also built as the Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn. Then came Bentley’s masterpiece, a return to sporting form with the uber-exclusive R-Type Continental coupe in 1952. Alloy coachwork by H.J. Mulliner was modern and simply magnificent. The Continental was capable of 120 mph thanks to higher power and higher gearing than the standard R-Type. Other coachbuilders built a handful of the 207 made.
The successor Bentley S1 was a clone of the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud and became the S2 with the new Rolls V8 in 1959. The Continental returned with just over 400 made through the S3 version, and the Park Ward drophead coupes were particularly striking. Mulliner called its sedan version the Continental Flying Spur. One might imagine typical Bentley customers not being fans of The Rolling Stones, and so they probably got little satisfaction in seeing Keith Richards, the band’s guitarist, tooling around in his blue 1965 S3 Flying Spur, which he called “Blue Lena.”
When Rolls Royce introduced its more advanced Silver Shadow in 1965, a Bentley-grilled version, the T1, came along, and in 1980 the Rolls Royce Silver Spirit begat the Bentley Mulsanne, named for the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans. But the Mulsanne didn’t get performance chops until the Turbo arrived a few years later. The stunning Bentley Continental R coupe followed in 1991, with no Rolls-Royce counterpart, putting Bentley back on a distinct path. The convertible was called the Azure.
Act III: And Then for Something Completely Different
Bentley’s next life began with a battle between BMW and Volkswagen for ownership of Rolls-Royce and ended with VW in control of the entire company. But BMW licensed the Rolls-Royce trademark from Rolls-Royce plc, with which it had a joint venture to manufacture jet engines. The result could be a book in itself, but suffice it to say, Bentley and the Crewe, England factory continued, in VW’s hands, to build the Continental GT, Flying Spur and flagship Mulsanne.
Leasing Your Bentley
Whether you fancy yourself a bit of a Bentley Boy and want to feel the excitement of driving a vintage Le Mans-type open tourer or prefer Bentley’s more civilized luxury rockets of recent years, your first call should be to Premier Financial Services. Premier has written over a thousand Bentley leases and has worked with Bentley dealers across the country. Our portfolio has included some great vintage and unique models. Here’s a sampling of models leased through Premier Financial Services:
Current & Contemporary Bentley
Vintage & Classic Bentley
|2016 Bentayga||1927 Vanden Plas 6.5-Liter|
|2016 Mulsanne Speed||1929 4.5-Liter|
|2015 Flying Spur||1930 Speed 6|
|2014 Continental GTC Speed||1936 4.25 Liter Antem|
|2013 Flying Spur Speed||1947 Mark VI|
|2012 Continental Supersports||1952 Mark VI Park Ward Drophead|
|2012 Mulsanne||1954 Type R Continental|
|2008 Flying Spur Mulliner||1958 S1 Continental Convertible|
|2004 Arnage R||1961 S2 Continental Flying Spur|
|2002 Azure Mulliner Symbolic Edition||1961 S2 Continental Park Ward Drophead|
|2002 Arnage LWB||1965 S3 Flying Spur|
|2000 Arnage Red Label||1986 Turbo R|
|1998 Mulliner RT|
|1997 Continental GT|
|1996 Continental R Concourse Edition|
The Premier Difference
Premier can do more than just finance your Bentley with our PFS Simple Lease, we also specialize in finding resources for appraisals, transportation, restoration and more through partnerships with world-class organizations such as Cosdel International who assists with the importation and exportation process during international transactions.
In 1997, Premier Financial Services began helping clients obtain their dream vehicles through our PFS Simple Lease program, earning us the distinction as the nation’s leading lessor of exotic, vintage, highline and luxury motorcars. Our standard of excellence is unsurpassed in the industry, largely due to our committed team of specialists who are ready to assist you every step of the way. Contact us today and make the car you dream about a genuine reality.