Bentley's connection to the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans is well documented: the marque has won six races over the past 90 years (more than Ford), and one of its current road cars, the Mulsanne, bears the same name as Circuit de la Sarthe's longest straightaway. It's no surprise, then, that Bentley has a new run of limited-edition, Le Mans-branded cars to celebrate its heritage.
It's been some time since a Bentley was a major manufacturer in the race: it won four races in a row between 1927 and 1930, after which point it suffered a dry spell (and plenty of years without fielding a single car) until 2003, when it took the crown one more time. The 2013-model-year Le Mans-edition cars mark the 10th anniversary of that feat.
Bentley credits its success at La Sarthe to six people, and all six are commemorated in the Le Mans-edition cars. In fact, each person has his own edition, a color and trim scheme that will go on exactly 48 Continental or Mulsanne cars. In all Bentley says it will make 288 special-edition cars.
In the case of the Mulsanne, the Le Mans Edition spec means diamond-quilted leather on the seats and doors, special Le Mans door sill plates, drilled pedals, a sportier tune of the suspension and steering, slightly different exhaust pipe outlets, and five-spoke wheels. For the Continental GT, buyers can purchase a GT coupe in V-8, W-12, or Speed configurations, or a convertible with a V-8 or W-12 engine. The Le Mans spec adds the same selection of leather, pedals, and sill plates to the Continental as the Mulsanne, although the special wheels are of a different design.
As for the color schemes, the Le Mans is split six ways. The first is the John Duff edition, named after the first winning Bentley driver. The John Duff-edition car gets a "moonbeam" paintjob with a two-tone linen/"beluga" interior featuring contrast stitching and piano black/aluminum trim. The second is the Dudley Benjafield, named after the man behind the wheel of the 1927 Le Mans-winning Bentley. His car is painted a shade that matches the 2003 Bentley Speed 8 racer, "verdant," and gets a contrast-stitched, linen/green interior with burr walnut and aluminum trim.
The third is Woolf Barnato, the driver behind the wheel in 1928, 1929, and 1930. His car is painted granite, with a "hotspur" interior with beluga stitching, and either carbon fiber or walnut/aluminum trim (the former goes on the Continental, the latter on the Mulsanne). Fourth is Tim Birkin, whose car is glacier white over beluga leather with white stitching and piano black/aluminum trim. Fifth is Glen Kidston, part of the 1930 winning team, whose car is painted dark sapphire over tan/blue interior with contrast stitching and burr walnut/aluminum trim.
The last might be the most important: it's the Guy Smith, named after the driver who took Bentley's winning Le Mans racer across the finish line in 2003. His car is painted beluga on the outside, and paired a matching beluga interior featuring piano black/dark aluminum trim.
Pricing for the cars hasn't been announced, but expect a healthy premium over the Mulsanne's base price of $302,425 and the Continental's base price of $176,725 (V-8 coupe).