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Rolls-Royce and Bentley

Bentley - 50 Years of the Marque


Car of the Month - March 2006
Bentley Arnage Red Label, 2001, #1CX06496

Bentley Arnage Red Label

Towards the end of the 90ies Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars were offered for sale by their parent company Vickers. In a fierce battle for take-over VW and BMW were major rivals. VW seemed to succeed after the company had offered a horrendous amount of money. However Volkswagen’s managers not only invested far more than many analysts considered to be appropriate. VW’s ‘top brass’ had failed to detect that indeed they hadn’t purchased the Rolls-Royce brand. The result was not short of being a disaster: A tremendous investment had acquired but the Bentley brand. BMW achieved a contract that permitted them to built Rolls-Royce motor cars. The backbone of Bentley’s portfolio by then was the Bentley Arnage, powered by a 4.5-litre engine (delicate that this one was delivered by BMW).

Bentley-aficioniados claimed the Bentley Arnage’s engine didn’t deliver sufficient power – and that wasn’t too far from truth in the light of the fact that this model’s acceleration and top speed didn’t compare favourably to that of its predecessor, the Bentley Turbo RT. But within a surprisingly short period the engineers from Volkswagen in close conjunction with their colleagues in the United Kingdom found to a solution that solved the problem. Their feel for acting properly led to a result far superior to that shown by those VW-managers who had acted in the take-over almost like dilettantes. Without significant changes to the car’s outward appearance (which had rocketed costs through the roof) an up-date took place. The well-proven 6.75-litre–engine that had powered the earlier models did return. Prior to its revival it had been worked over painstankingly detailed and that included to change the electronic engine management completely. In the end the revised engine supplied more power and did meet the most stringent emission limits. Not only existing ones but those, too, which were expected within the foreseeable future. Similar care was spent on re-working front axle and rear suspension. But one example of changes that were not obvious at a quick glance but important might be that the rear seats offered increased comfort due to better ergonomy.

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Bentley Arnage Red Label

At the Frankfurt Motor Show in autumn 1999 – only about one year after VW had taken over Bentley – the Bentley Arnage Red Label was launched. The designation had its roots in the fact that the ‘Winged B’ motif showed the B embedded in red enamel. There was a note that parallel to the new Bentley Arnage Red Label the previous variant would remain in production as Bentley Arnage Green Label. However with no considerable difference in price to the much advanced and more powerful Bentley Arnage Red Label no-one did expect the Green Label to survive for long.

Bentley Arnage Red Label

Any expectations connected with the Bentley Arnage Red Label were exceeded within a rather short time. Orders poured in and that success was a clear manifest the new model was tailored exactly to meet the demands of Bentley’s clients. The Bentley Arnage Red Label established itself very well in its market-segment during that period until the launch of the Bentley Continental GT opened an entirely new chapter. The model succeeded so splendidly well that the successors Bentley Arnage R and Bentley Arnage T were results of development rather than radical changes..

Bentley Arnage Red Label

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