Buying a Bentley Turbo R to reduce your fuel bills is a prime example of car enthusiast logic. But that’s precisely what Simon Harris was hoping to achieve when he bought the automotive equivalent of a four-wheeled Blenheim Palace in 2012.
When Autocar reviewed a Bentley Turbo R in 1987, the road testers recorded an overall figure of 14.2mpg. This was described as “poor by current standards”. By 2020 standards it’s enough to warrant a visit from Extinction Rebellion.
Simon describes the Turbo R as “thirsty”, which is a little like saying Oliver Reed enjoyed a tipple before bed. He goes on to say it can drive 350 miles in a single journey before needing a drop of super unleaded. That’s if you can call 106 litres a ‘drop’.
A supermini range from a 106-litre supertanker, then? Still, nobody has ever bought a Bentley to economise. Not unless you own a 7.2-litre Jensen SP.
That’s the car Simon sold to make way for the Bentley. Either he loves spending time with the cashiers at his local Shell garage or he enjoys the grunt of a V8. In the case of the Bentley Turbo R it’s an all-alloy 6.75-litre V8 producing… well, something in the region of 300hp. Bentley never disclosed the official figure.
The Bentley salesperson was probably more forthcoming with the price. Back in 1988, when the Bentley Turbo R was new, the original owner paid £110,000. In today’s money, that’s as near as makes no difference, £300,000. You could get a couple of Continental GT V8s for that – if your name ends in Vardy, Rooney or Sterling.
Not that you need the pockets of a footballer to get your hands on this Bentley Turbo R. It’s on the market for £15,000, which is the going rate for a good Turbo R in 2020. It’s a remarkably low price for a car that’s so majestic it should require National Trust membership before viewing it.
There’s a reason why the asking price is so affordable: maintenance. The cost of fuel can be offset by the fact that a Bentley Turbo R is unlikely to be a daily driver. Meanwhile, the price of insurance should be kept in check by sticking the car on a classic policy. But skimping on maintenance would be a disservice to the old girl – not to mention risk undoing the time and money that has been lavished on the Turbo R over the past decade or so.
In a tweet, Simon says that “in a good year, maintenance can be £500, but it’s safer to budget £2,000 a year”. That might sound like a lot, and if it does, the Bentley Turbo R isn’t for you. But let’s look at it another way.
At a price of £15,000, the Turbo R costs roughly the same as a Kia Rio ‘2’. The Kia’s 1.25-litre petrol engine should return around 45.6mpg, which is around 30mpg more than the Bentley. It’ll keep you safe in a crash, provide somewhere to connect your smartphone, start every morning, and provide loyal and soul-crushingly reliable service way beyond 2027, when its warranty runs out.
By then it’ll be worth five, maybe six grand. Not that you will still own it in 2027. Like many Rio ‘owners’, you’d have borrowed it on a three-year PCP deal, paying around £250 a month. You had no intention of paying the £5,000 balloon payment, so you walked away with nothing. Just a reminder of the 5.90 per cent APR finance deal.
To paraphrase Simon Le Bon, why drive a Rio when you can own an R for fifteen grand? It’s like being entrusted with a priceless heirloom – a national treasure that must be preserved for future generations. A reminder of the days when a Bentley oozed old money charm, long before chintz and bad taste became the order of the day.
If the stately home styling and Windsor blue paint don’t grab you, maybe one of the world’s finest interiors will. You can almost smell the wood and leather from here. On the outside, the 17-inch alloys and twin headlights represent a true and accurate use of the phrase ‘tastefully modified’.
Simon told PetrolBlog that selling the Bentley Turbo R “will be a big wrench”, but he believes “it is time” to move it on. He’s planning a break from car ownership before seeking to reduce his fuel bills again.
What’s on the shortlist? A Mercedes-Maybach S650? An Alfa Rome Giulia Quadrifoglio? HMS Queen Elizabeth? All three are likely to be more economical than the Bentley.
No, Simon fancies a Honda CR-Z. From a Jensen, to a Bentley, to a Honda hybrid. That’s quite a journey.
In another example of car enthusiast logic, PetrolBlog could sell its entire fleet to fund the purchase of the Turbo R. The funny thing is, it actually sounds like a sensible option. If nothing else, there’d be fewer drainage holes to clear on a weekly basis.
The Bentley Turbo R is for sale on Auto Trader. Click here for the full description and to see more images.