I RECENTLY went on what has become an annual petrol head pilgrimage with motors mad pals to the Silverstone Classic.
And as usual it was a crucial part of the weekend of automotive action to select the right car to go down in – but this year there really was only one choice.
Because Bentley are celebrating their 100th birthday and they have a new version of their best-selling Continental GT, which was kindly offered as my transport to the historic circuit.
With 626 bhp from its glorious W12 engine giving a 0 to 60 time of 3.6 seconds and all the performance you could desire, plus the very latest technology including night vision and the sumptuous luxury we have come to expect from Bentley over the years, this really is a fabulous machine.
It has a highly illegal top speed of 207 mph and trumps the previous version in every department – which it has to do as the Continental is Bentley’s best-selling car ever.
Looks wise the new car is even more impressive with subtle re designs keeping the famous GT look but in a bigger, bolder more muscular way giving street presence in spades.
Even though the Media/VIP car park at the circuit was filled with top end motors and exotic sports machinery the GT still stood out.
And inside everything gets an upgrade including the infotainment system which is accessed via a rotating display that can show three analogue gauges, a 12.3 touchscreen or be hidden away behind a solid veneer facia.
Other high tech bits of kit include a comprehensive heads up display, a powered spoiler which rises from the boot lid, automatic speed limit recognition built into the adaptive cruise control and a suite of advanced safety aids.
Then there are various drive modes which the 4×4 car can be set to via its silky smooth eight speed auto gearbox including sport, which also beefs up the already impressive exhaust note from those two huge oval rear pipes.
And when you don’t need all the power on tap (which is most of the time) that 6-litre twin turbo monster of an engine shuts down half of its 12 cylinders to give reasonable fuel consumption – I bettered Bentley’s claimed 23.9 mpg on the 150 mile journey to the event – mainly down to the many, many miles of roadworks on the M6 meaning 50mph limits.
So the Bentley was at its spiritual home as the company has seen huge track successes over those 100 years from the Blower Bentleys of the 1920 and 30s to Le Mans Victories stretching from the 1920s to 2003.
And what a great weekend of automotive action only mildly dampened by some typically disappointing British summer weather – I felt particularly sorry for the guy trying to sell sunglasses in the rain!
There were races for historic Formula 1, 2 and 3 cars plus sixty souped-up Minis in action battling other saloon car racers from the 1960s and 70s including Lotus Cortinas, Mustangs and Alphas.
At the Silverstone Classic Auction a record-breaking number of lots went under the hammer where us mere mortals could look on as the super-rich snapped up Ferraris, Astons and Porsches… although there were also numerous fast Fords, classic Mercedes and BMWs going through the sale but even here prices were not for the faint hearted.
So a great time was had by all, especially yours truly who developed a smug grin while cruising around in the Bentley… until I had to hand it back!
The new Continental GT starts from £159,100. More information at www.bentley.co.uk.
By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth