The philosophy behind big expensive cars with a lot of power used to be drastically different just a couple decades ago, where the most expensive new car on the road in 1997 was a twin-turbo Bentley that weighed as much as a house, and not some track-day toy that got you into special parties like the cars of today.
In the latest video from Harry’s Garage, Mr. Metcalfe shows us around the 1997 Bentley Continental T, a near-identical example to one he actually used to own (naturally):
Back in the 1990s, Bentley’s philosophy was to engineer the most relaxing and luxurious ride imaginable, and then weigh and price it when it was all said and done. There was none of this bullshit about hitting an arbitrary four-figure horsepower number, or using space-age materials to keep weight down to improve lap times.
Instead, they just ran on pure British instinct and good 90s vibes to develop a car powerful enough to move all the sheetmetal and all the wood and the extended family of cow hides draping the interior.
Harry Metcalfe claims the Conti T was the most expensive car in 1997 at nearly $300,000, except the McLaren F1 was still in production and that cost about four times as much. There was also the Ferrari F50, but that was more of a lease deal with a down payment of only $240,000, and the Porsche 911 GT1 was for sure more expensive. Regardless, it was really damn expensive.
The Continental T was longer than a modern-day Range Rover because it could be—if you own it, you’re rich enough to not have to worry about street parking this thing anywhere.
Old Top Gear hailed the Continental T as a return to Bruiser form for Bentley, and referred to its low-revving, super-torquey twin-turbo 6.75-liter V8 as “charming” with 650 lb-ft of torque at just 2,200 rpm.
Considering there wasn’t nearly as much thought given to the performance of the Continental T compared to modern cars, Metcalfe assures us that you can only marvel at such a weighty car’s ability to gain speed and find grip.
And then you get out and marvel at those incredible fender flares.