One-hundredth birthdays are always extra special occasions, and when premium brands reach that milestone they sometimes go a little nuts. Take Bentley, which was founded on January 18, 1919. In celebration of its centenary, the company has taken saws to some of its historic vehicle fleet. They yanked the sizable crankshaft out of founder W.O. Bentley’s personal 1930 8.0-liter inline-six engine and sliced it into 100 slivers for mounting in 100 special Mulsanne W.O. Editions by Mulliner. Next they sawed up the original wooden seat of the famous No. 9 4-1/2-liter Blower Bentley Le Mans racer, setting 100 tiny pieces of it in resin and installing them in the middle of the dashboards of 100 special 2019 Bentley Continental GT Number 9 Edition coupes.
Quickie history lesson: The number 9 car was entered in the 1930 Le Mans race by privateer and famed “Bentley boy” Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin. It did not win, but Birkin’s heroic driving and relentless dicing with front-runner Rudolph Caracciola in his Mercedes SSK is upheld as one of the great moments in vintage motorsports history. It also quite probably enabled Bentley works driver and fellow Bentley boy Woolf Barnato to win that race (for a second year) in his Old Number One Speed Six.
Naturally, this Mulliner-crafted racing-inspired special is based on a top-performing Continental GT W12 model—3.6 seconds to 60 mph and 207 mph top speed, Bentley claims. In addition to the aforementioned reliquary, prospective Number 9 owners get a choice of two paint color options (Viridian Green or Beluga Black), which come with matching 21-inch 10-spoke wheels and a choice of “Black Brightware or Black Pack trim.” There are special No. 9 badges and a matching grille graphic.
Inside, owners may choose Cumbrian Green or Beluga Black “heritage hides” (they’re slightly glossier than normal) on the fluted seats, door panels, and elsewhere. There are special B logos on the headrests, doors, and rear quarter panels that are reminiscent of those on the 1930 “Blower.” An optional Centenary Pack adds contrast stitching in a special metallic thread created by combining iron oxide-coated, super-fine aluminum flakes with paliochrome gold. The dash features a broad swath of “engine-turned” aluminum like that used on old race cars to reduce glare, and the center console features a special British Jaeger clock face inspired by the one in the race car. Further gilding this already golden lily are 18-carat-gold-plated organ-stop vent controls and special numbered sill plates.
All Bentleys built between January and December 2019 get special anniversary badges, puddle lamps that project a centenary message, gold accents on the steering wheel and shifter “B” badges, and more. Pricing hasn’t been established yet, but we can guarantee it is covered by the adage “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” Those who can afford to celebrate this centenary must get their order in before October.