This is the swan song for the current Continental GT, which I first drove in July 2003 in Scotland, and a memorable drive it was. Later, I drove a different Conti GT at 165 mph in Death Valley; another drive for the mental scrapbook. As have always been the case, straight-line speed and acceleration are remarkable. Great exhaust note. But there are signs of age, and it is certainly time for the new Continental, which is going on sale in early 2011 and which we will be driving soon.
It's amazing how slipping into the driver's seat of a really fancy car can make your cares wash away. I had a pretty bad head cold when I piloted the Series 51, but the Bentley cured me, if only briefly. In a perfect world, my doctor could prescribe a Bentley and my insurance would cover everything but a $20 copay ...
This Bentley Continental GT Speed Series 51 marks the end for the first-generation Continental, so this last-chance drive has me thinking a lot about what I would love to see from the next car, due in early 2011. Paul Jones, the project leader, has promised the base Continental will offer "the agility of the Continental GT Speed with a better ride than the standard car." I hope that leaves room for a sharper, more sport-focused Speed, as this car feels slightly dull and disinterested in curvy roads. I much prefer the Continental GT Supersports, which makes no apologies for its crisper ride. It's sharper steering and stiffer suspension, not to mention the additional 21 horsepower, make it a significantly more direct, sporty car.
2010 Bentley Continental GT Speed Series 51