Dre­am of a Bent­ley led to a­not­her su­per­car

George Herald - Auto Dealer - - News -

The ex­qui­si­te Bent­ley Hu­nau­di­è­res con­cept car t­hat da­tes from 1999 was the ac­tu­al fo­re­run­ner of the Bu­gat­ti Vey­ron, t­hat sub­se­quent­ly be­ca­me the pin­na­cle of au­to­mo­ti­ve en­gi­neer­ing.

W­hen the Volks­wa­gen Group pur­cha­sed Bent­ley in 1998, exe­cu­ti­ves from both com­pa­nies ma­de it cle­ar they had big chan­ges in sto­re for the B­ri­tish brand. The Hu­nau­di­è­res con­cept il­lus­tra­ted one of the di­recti­ons the com­pa­ny was look­ing to ta­ke. It was a dra­ma­tic, low-slung cou­pé po­we­red by an 8,0-lit­re, 16-cy­lin­der en­gi­ne tu­ned to de­li­ver 465kW.

The Bu­gat­ti Vey­ron doe­sn’t need an in­tro­ducti­on no­wa­days as it has set the ben­ch­mark for all ot­her su­per­cars sin­ce its pro­ducti­on star­ted in 2005. Despi­te being on the mar­ket for o­ver 12 y­e­ars, the po­wer­ful car re­mains one of the fas­test and most ex­clu­si­ve in the wor­ld. But the first car which could be re­gar­ded as fo­re­run­ner to the Vey­ron wa­sn’t a Bu­gat­ti at all - it was a Bent­ley.

It star­ted in 1998 w­hen Volks­wa­gen went on a buying spree. Within a few mont­hs the Ger­mans had boug­ht Lam­bor­g­hi­ni, Bu­gat­ti and Bent­ley. One y­e­ar e­ar­lier Volks­wa­gen had pre­sen­ted its own sports car, the W12 Syn­cro, which would la­ter be kno­wn as the Nar­dò. T­his car, spor­ting a 5,6-lit­re W12 en­gi­ne, was i­ni­ti­a­ted by VW chair­man Fer­di­nand Pi­ëch, who wan­ted to show t­hat VW could al­so build a su­per­car. But Pi­ëch had big­ger plans af­ter he found the rig­ht brands for it.

At the Ge­ne­va Mo­tor Show in 1999, Bent­ley un­vei­led a spec­ta­cu­lar su­per­car which would turn out to be a pre­lu­de to the Bu­gat­ti Vey­ron.

The Bent­ley Hu­nau­di­è­res didn’t re­sem­ble a­ny­thing the B­ri­tish au­to­mo­ti­ve ma­nu­fac­tu­rer had built be­fo­re.

Just li­ke the Bent­ley Mul­san­ne, the Hu­nau­di­è­res was na­med af­ter a stretch of

Ci­r­cuit de la Sart­he, bet­ter kno­wn as Le Mans. Bent­ley won t­his ra­ce fi­ve ti­mes be­t­ween 1924 and 1930. In fact, both cars’ na­mes re­fer to the sa­me long straig­ht, which is of­fi­ci­al­ly kno­wn as Lig­ne Droi­te des Hu­nau­di­è­res, but of­ten is cal­led “Mul­san­ne Straig­ht”.

The Hu­nau­di­è­res ne­ver ma­de the jump from the show floor to the sho­wroom floor be­cau­se it was re­gar­ded as too ex­tre­me. Its ex­te­ri­or de­sign in­spi­red the first-ge­ne­ra­ti­on Con­ti­nen­tal GT to so­me de­gree.

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