Bentley T Series
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3
Rolls-Royce have only ever made one concession to badge engineering, keeping the legendary Bentley name alive. The Bentley “T” saloon was identical to the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II, apart from the distinctive radiator
Rolls-Royce buyers were very much in the majority for the 3500 cars a year being manufactured at the company's Crewe factory in Cheshire, England in the early 1980’s. But demand for the Bentley was sufficient to ensure it was kept in production.
The reasons why a small percentage of buyers preferred a Bentley to a Rolls-Royce were rather obscure. Obverse snobbery was one of them, insofar as the Bentley was more exclusive than the Rolls-Royce. Sentimentality was another, especially among British buyers conscious of the enormous prestige Bentley's motor racing exploits brought to Britain in the 1920's.
This link with the past obviously gave owners a great sense of satisfaction. Perhaps a third reason is that some owners considered the Bentley less ostentatious than the Rolls-Royce. The original Bentley company was founded by W.O. Bentley
, and produced a total of 3037 cars from 1919 to 1931. Many have survived and are among the most coveted thoroughbred vintage cars around, commanding high prices whenever they change hands.
Ettore Bugatti, the Italian-born master craftsman of pre 1931 vintage racing cars, once caustically described the big thundering Bentleys as 'the world's finest lorries'. But they won the French Le Mans twenty-four-hour sports car classic no fewer than five times: in 1924 and four successive victories from 1927. Bentleys also won innumerable races and hill climbs in this era and featured in some notable record-breaking. But then you would know that if you read the Lost Marques: Bentley
Bentley’s had always been hand-built, regardless of time, effort, and with almost fanatical disregard for financial constraint. But Bentley, like so many other manufacturers, failed to survive the financial hardships of the early Depression years and lapsed into liquidation in 1931, to be quickly taken over by former arch-rivals Rolls-Royce, who thwarted ownership aspirations by Napier, another illustrious company which specialised in high performance cars for wealthy enthusiasts.
The outward appearance of a Bentley T is slightly more dynamic because the bonnet design is a few centimeters lower and the radiator
shell shape, with its rounded edges, is smoother and more streamlined. In addition, the badging on wheel covers, boot lid and gauges featured Bentley motifs rather than Rolls-Royce ones. The upgraded T2 featured rack and pinion steering
, improved air-conditioning
, a new facia and a front air dam.
Rolls-Royce maintained the Bentley image for some time by offering a variety of special-bodied versions but the need for rationalisation because of rising manufacturing costs finally led to Rolls-Royce limiting the availability of the Bentley to the T2 and the two-door Corniche, in coupe and drophead-coupe models. They were, of course, luxury cars par excellence with superb appointments and an impressive range of driving aids. Many today overlook these wonderful cars as collectable classics for fear of exorbitant running costs.
That is their loss, for these are wonderful cars, and nothing really matches them for ride comfort and quality. If the guttural sound of a pumping V8 is your thing, then this is certainly not the car for you. But if your looking for quality, class and comfort, it doesn’t get much better than a T Series Bentley. The T1 was made from 1967-1977 and the T2 was made from 1977
Production figures are:
- T1: 1868
- T1 saloon (1965-1977): 1703
- T1 long wheelbase (1971-1976):
- T1 two door saloon (1966-1971): 114 (15 by
- T1 coupé by Pininfarina (1968):
- T1 convertible (1967-1971): 41
- T2: 568
- T2 (1977-1980): 558
- T2 long wheelbase (1977-1980): 10