What’s not to love about Bentley? Seriously, can they do anything wrong? Except for that atrocious pink Bentley for Paris Hilton, and let’s face it, they have to sell cars, thy don’t do much wrong. Not like Rolls-Royce, who look now like they’re in the business of making tanks and armored personal carriers. Anyhow, the 90s were a golden decade for the Crewe company, with the introduction of the 1995 Bentley Azure, the last Bentley produced under British ownership. Based on the Bentley Continental R, this superb Pininfarina-styled convertible was both massive and sleek, fast, comfortable and extremely roomy – as it should be, and starting in 1999 with the introduction of the Mulliner bespoke package, all Azures were truly unique. And expensive. Never forget expensive.
You have to love how Bentley can take what can only be described as a venerable engine – that’s the polite way of saying ‘ancient’ – and make it exactly what the car needs. The 6.75-liter V8, a staple of Rolls-Royce and Bentley since time immemorial was turbocharged up to 400 horsepower, for a very respectable 0-60 time of 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 150 miles per hour. To be fair, however, when you drive a car like that, you should not be in such a hurry to get anywhere. Maybe you just want to lay down some rubber. Who knows?
While Bentley was bought by Volkswagen in 1998, they were in no hurry to screw up a winning recipe, only offering what can only be seen as improvements, notably a new transmission and more power. This model of the Bentley Azure stayed in production until the 2003, a fitting sunset on the British ownership of one of the greatest marques the world has ever seen.