There’s an old saying - the best things in life are free. Balderdash. The best things in life, like the plethora of Bentley Continental GTs you can buy right now, aren’t free, but they can be damn cheap if you look hard enough.
The early 2000s were a trying time for automakers, especially luxury brands because it meant that the y2K bug hadn’t rendered SkyNet active yet and they would actually have to begrudgingly pioneer innovation for the rest of the automotive world. While Mercedes, BMW and Audi worked hard at making cars that had radar guided this and butt-blasting that, Bentley wanted to simply a car you wanted to drive without the need to ever leave and conjured up the nearly timeless Continental GT and Flying Spur.
This W12, twin turbocharged heavy duty luxury liner was exactly the thing to tackle the bespoke models coming out of factories with impossibly German names, but after a decade of these things running around valet parking lots and being rented by young gentlemen that can’t be handled by any club, neither right now, or any other moment in time, they got cheap.
So cheap, in fact, that you could buy a mid-range BMW or a fully loaded Bentley flagship with a considerable chunk of change left over. Seriously, every single one is the sub-to-mid $50k range and in fantastic shape.
The reasons for the drastic price drop are simple, but isn’t due to depreciation alone. While Mercs and BMWs of the era have plummeted, that’s because they had production numbers in the tens of thousands and their top tier cars looked almost identical to their bottom-rung offerings. With Bentley, everything was hand-built and specific to the model, even though the running gear was eventually used in the VW Phaeton with modifications. Rolls Royce shares the same sort of custom-built ethos, but still commands a higher relative price tag, even with a decade on market for their Phantom platform.
What I think happened is the new Bentley buying public grew tired of these cars, as newer, more sharp and agile examples of automotive performance were released by other brands and Bentley itself when the first generation was phased out in 2011. As the older bodies looked relatively outdated for the fickle millionaires and with thousands of early run models produced, the price for a great condition used car eventually sunk just south of its natural depreciation curve and stayed there, hopefully long enough for regular Randos like you and I to scoop them up for pennies on the dollar.
However, the cars never got worse. You’re still getting the supple leather interior that the first owner got. You’ll still get the stout V12, albeit with a few more repair costs that you should factor into purchase. You’ll still have the street presence that eclipses any new car today, including most exotics, in my opinion. It’s good for two hundred miles per hour if delimited and if you’re with family, a four door version is available to class their asses up a notch or six.
Personally, it’s not a question of if, but when I’ll be buying one, for its designed-in-Germany-but-assembled-at-Crewe swagger, its elegance, and its ridiculous engine configuration and insane rate of speed, known as eventual jail time. For the price of a solid daily driver, you can have the best daily driver ever made, and that ain’t bad.