Bentley unveils Continental GT Le Mans Collection
Limited-run Conti looks just like the winning prototype, only with less wings and more hide
By Cam Tait / Wednesday, 12 April 2023 / Loading comments
It looked like we were in for a golden era of endurance racing when Bentley beat Audi to victory at the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans. As we’d later find out, the British marque didn’t fancy another stab at the blue riband event and thus dawned a decade (bar the 2009 race) of Audi dominance. But Bentley has been cashing in on its 2003 victory for many years now, and it’s most recent self-pat on the back comes in the form of the new Continental GT Le Mans Collection.
Coming right on the 20th anniversary of the Speed 8’s victory at Le Sarthe, the Le Mans Collection consists of a 48 Continental GT and GTCs that are packed full of references to the 2003 winner. The most obvious ones are the Verdant green finish with a silver stripe down the centre, matching that of the Speed 8 racer, and the white ‘7’ painted on the grille to reflect the race winner’s number.
That’s pretty standard fair for Bentley’s LM models, as we’ve already seen with the Number 9 Edition. But things start to get really interesting when you step inside one of the Le Mans Collection cars. For instance, the rotating set of dials in the centre of the dash comes adorned with an ‘artefact’ from the race-winning car. Specifically, one of the 32 valves (well part of it) from the racer’s V8. Below that sits a new digital 24-hour click, replacing the analogue 12-hour clocks you’ll find in standard Continentals.
To match the pragmatic look of the prototype’s cockpit, albeit without the racer’s claustrophobia-inducing size, Mulliner has kitted-out the cabins of the Le Mans Collection with Beluga hide and suede-like Dynamica. The only dash of colour comes from the row of six wreathes on the dash, marking the number of victories Bentley has racked up at Le Sarthe, with a similar motif on the treadplates. Topping it all off is a gold silhouette of the Speed 8 prototype and a pair of 24 Hours of Le Mans badges on the front wings.
Of course, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to add your own personalisation if you’ve got the cash, but there’s only one choice of engine. Good thing it’s Bentley’s 659hp 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12, which is capable of giving the Speed 8 a run for its money (in a straight line, anyway) with a top speed of 208mph. Three-chamber air suspension comes as standard, though you’ll need to fork out extra if you want the company’s newly developed carbon ceramic brakes. Might be a box worth ticking if you plan on taking this 2.3-litre Speed 8 homage on track.
Bentley is keeping a lid on pricing, so you can expect it to cost a chunk more than the £220,000 needed for a Continental GT Speed. You can also expect all 48 examples to get snapped up instantly, so why not save a few quid by picking up a normal GT Speed and painting a stripe down the middle with a silver rattle can?
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