If you're like many of us, you constantly have throat problems from driving around town shrieking "I'M SO FUCKING RICH!" This vivid yellow Bentley Continental GT V8S absolutely solves that problem, and is a pretty thrilling toddler-toter as well. People can tell you're loaded from miles away, and your kid has a blast.
I'm a big fan and believer in bright colors on cars, and it sure was nice of Bentley to provide me with one in my personal fleet color preference. They made me take off the gaffer tape stripes, but still. Currently, it seems that for modern cars you can only really get vivid colors at the extremes of the market — the very low end or the very high end.
The result is people notice this car. They point, they take pictures with it when it's parked, and I'm okay with that. It's fun, really, and if you're buying a bright Monaco Yellow Bentley convertible and you don't want to attract attention, you were likely raised by aliens who learned everything about human psychology from a hoagie.
Some of the responses to the car can be a little hostile — you are driving something that costs as much as a decent home in most parts of the country (this one MSRP'd at $280,710) and that can generate resentment in some people. But you know what totally counteracts all that? Stick a little kid in there.
That's part of why the Conti GT convertible works well as a baby car — it's by no means perfect, but there's a symbiotic relationship at play — the baby has an absolute blast in the car, and the car gets to enjoy the toddler-generated goodwill to counteract the occasional dirty jealous looks.
There's actually one key factor that made the Conti GT such an engaging and fun toddler car, and if we're honest, it doesn't have much to do with the car's cost or the snob appeal or any technical aspect. It's that the top goes down.
I am a little amazed that this is the first convertible press car I've gotten — they're still more rare than we often realize. When I first put Otto in the seat and made the top drop, with its whirring and opening and closing flaps and panels — he was enrapt. The idea that a car could "open" blew his little mind. And when I took him out on the road, the wind and noise and big, open sky made the most mundane trip feel like Disneyland.
Look at that picture up there. That's one happy fucking kid. He was so thrilled with the sensation of wind blowing all around him that I thought he was going to explode into a ball of rainbow light and candy. Look at this face here:
When was the last time you felt like that? Just knowing that you have the power to give another human being you love that sensation is like being King Dad of The Boss' Republic of Fantastistan. It's great.
Plus, there's practical advantages, too. In most of the two-door sporty coupes and GT cars I've tested for Will It Baby, the act of getting the kid in and out of the back seat has usually been a nightmare of contortion, bonked kid heads, and exposed asscracks. Not in a convertible. In a convertible, you simply plop the kid down into the seat like you're dropping him in the bathtub. Removal is the reverse, and just as easy.
Of course, this really means that convertibles make great baby/toddler/kid cars, and you really probably could get most of these benefits on a car that costs $250,000 less or so. Because, let's be honest here: most of us are about as likely to own one of these as we are to defecate a talking otter that was college roommates with Mike Dukakis. But the good news is it barely matters. Sure, the Bentley's an amazing car, but you can get plenty of joy out of something 1/10th the cost.
And there are some inherent convertible disadvantages, too, most notably in the trunk. Convertible trunks tend to be compromised to allow space for the folded top to sit nice and flush from the outside. That also means that your stroller likely will not fit. Like mine didn't.
If you just use one of those little umbrella stroller things, you'll probably be fine, but forget trying to use a jogger or anything like that.
Still, ditching the stroller isn't such a big sacrifice in the Bentley — there's just too many other good things about the car, as you'd expect. The 4L 521 HP V8 makes some incredible rumbly sounds and moves this pretty hefty beast with real force. It's AWD, and while I couldn't hoon it to the degree my inner idiot wanted, you can feel that it has matching luggagefuls of grip.
It is a car built for comfort, primarily, and it doesn't disappoint. The diamond-quilted seats feel great and do pretty much everything you can ask a piece of car furniture to do — heat you, cool you, and it'll even massage your back. I'm sure you could probably slide a couple of bucks between the cushions and get a happy ending, too, but I had the kid in the car, so, you know.
It seems the biggest difference in, say, a $60,000 car and a $280,000 car is that every little detail, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is made as high-quality as possible. For example, look at this valve stem cap:
I'd wear those valve stem caps as cufflinks, if I could. Everything in the car is like that. Everything you touch feels great, everything smells good, and I bet lots of it tastes pretty good, too. There's just nothing crappy here.
Even so, there are some strange oversights. There's no easily-accessible USB charging port, for example, and the included connector for your iPhone uses a plug standard that's now about two years out of date. How do little things like that slip by, when Bentley's customers would absolutely be using these things? These would be annoyances in any car, but at this price, you expect none of that.
It felt pretty damn good to drive this car around, I won't lie. I loved it, my wife loved it, and Otto thought it was magic. It's sort of a deceptive car, in some ways, though — it's actually much smaller inside than it's bulk would suggest, and it looks tighter and nimbler from the outside, too — but it's really pretty substantial. So, it looks both bigger and smaller than it actually is, strangely.
But, scale deceptions aside, I think it looks pretty great, but I am a sucker for Ghia-inspired designs, even if that's not really intentional and that curvy rear haunch is actually inspired by the old Continental fastback.
I think we were all sad to see it go after the week, and now Otto keeps asking to "open" all the other cars he's in. Explaining that not every car is a convertible is like explaining to a kid that the world just isn't fair. It's no fun.
So, look, if you have cash to blow and have a toddler, get a Conti GT convertible in some candy color and have a blast. And for the rest of us, there's all kinds of great convertibles out there that should be considered kid cars, climate depending of course. What kid wouldn't have great childhood memories of the convertible family car, right?