To mark 20 years since Bentley’s sixth victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and 100 years since the first running of the legendary race, Bentley is creating a limited edition of Continental GT Coupés and Continental GTC’s. Each will be powered by the Bentley W12 engine, the most successful 12-cylinder engine of the modern era. The Le Mans Collection includes unique exterior and interior details that echo the design of the Le Mans winning Speed 8 #7.
All Le Mans Collection models are specified with the three-way Bentley Rotating Display, offering a choice of touchscreen, dual veneer or analogue dials – but with a twist; In place of the standard central dial is a Vitrine displaying an engine valve from the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 of the 2003 Le Mans winning Bentley Speed 8. The engine was removed after the contest and preserved, and now 24 of the 32 valves from the engine have been bisected to create 48 artefacts for this exclusive collection of ultimate Grand Tourers.
Mulliner, Bentley’s personal commissioning division, has taken inspiration from the dark green Speed 8 racing cars that swept all before them at Le Mans in 2003. From the Verdant green exterior to the sliver of Speed 8 engine displayed in the fascia, the Le Mans Collection is a heartfelt tribute to a long and glorious shared history between Bentley and the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Tribute to Speed 8 #7
The limited number of Continental GT’s and Continental GTC’s in the Le Mans Collection are finished in Verdant green, with a Moonbeam racing stripe across the bonnet (and Coupé roof). The Blackline specification nods to the black and green livery of the Speed 8, while the carbon-fibre Styling specification body components are finished in black with a subtle pinstripe in Moonbeam. Beluga black is also chosen for the lower front bumper, wing mirror caps and rear ‘horseshoe’ area beneath the bootlid spoiler, while black 22-inch ten-spoke wheels shroud powerful carbon ceramic brakes and red brake calipers.
Meanwhile, the distinctive Bentley matrix grille (originally developed to protect the radiator on the unpaved Le Mans racetrack of the 1920s) features a painted #7 in Arctica white, combining the race-winning number of 2003 with the painted radiators of the Bentleys that won Le Mans five times between 1924 and 1930.
The interiors of the Le Mans Collection Continental GT and Continental GTC are far more luxurious than those of the Bentley Speed 8s – but there’s the same sense of sporting purpose.
The Le Mans Collection Bentleys feature many bespoke details, beginning with the Speed 8 sill plates and six-wreath treadplates that greet occupants on entering the interior. The fascia displays the six-wreath emblem inlaid into high-gloss carbon fibre, marking each of the six outright victories recorded by Bentley at Le Mans between 1924 and 2003.
Race inspired performance
The Le Mans Collection Continental GT and GTC are equipped with Bentley’s renowned 6.0-litre W12 TSI engine, delivering 659 PS (650 bhp) and an extraordinary 900 Nm (664 lb.ft) of torque.
With exceptional handling, this results in a top speed of 208 mph (335 km/h) and 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds (0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds). A combination of four chassis technologies give the new limited edition a level of agility, performance and ride quality as expected of a car with this heritage.
Bentley and Le Mans
Bentley’s long association with Le Mans didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts. “I think the whole thing’s crazy. Nobody’ll finish. Cars aren’t designed to take that sort of strain for 24 hours.” Such was W.O. Bentley’s reaction in 1923, on hearing that private entrant John Duff planned to contest the first-ever Le Mans 24 Hour race in a Bentley 3 Litre. But the competitive fire in W.O’s soul saw him make a last-minute dash to the La Sarthe circuit nonetheless. Inspired by Duff’s 4th place (despite a lengthy stop to repair a holed petrol tank) and fastest lap, W.O and Bentley Motors returned in 1924 with a works entry – and won. It was the start of a glorious decade that saw five wins in seven years.