A history lesson...
1998-2009's Bentley Arnage was a very British automobile, despite being a result of the doomed relationship between Rolls Royce and BMW and being rescued by VW. The original underpowered (but more economical) BMW 4.4-litre V8 Green Label engine was soon replaced by a far more impressive 6.75-litre V8 Red Label when VW took over. R, a substantially re-engineered T and long wheelbase RL versions were released later on, with a Final Series version to mark the last year of manufacturing. The Bentley Arnage has never quite gained the same respect as competitors in its class, such as its sister vehicle the Rolls Royce Silver Seraph, but it's still a Bentley, with all that that entails.
Bang for your buck
Bentley's traditional ostentatious approach makes this rather a footballer's car, which may put some off. It is indulgence on a grand scale, with a leather covered interior, hand-finished wood details and all the luxury you would expect from a Bentley, plus optional extras such as drink coolers or unique body styles. In fact, Bentley will add almost any refinement you can imagine, although it won't come cheap. You could comfortably live in this car. The Arnage's size is only equalled by its power, with a twin turbocharged 400bhp held back only by the body of a tank. With frequent criticism for its running costs, fuel consumption is beyond a joke but, frankly, you don't buy a Bentley if you're worried about that. Customer service at dealers is second to none and of course the Bentley badge carries a weight of prestige behind it. You can see what Bentley were aiming at with the car's appearance alongside Pierce Brosnan in the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair: traditional values for a modern gentleman.
What you'll pay
Depreciation is on the side of the buyer for a used Bentley Arnage. You'll find early models for under £20,000 but it's best to forget the Green Label and go for the Red Label onwards. 2003 models can be had for £30,000. Stick to Bentley dealers or specialists and remember that this is no ordinary car – it's not what you buy to get from A to B or run you to the supermarket. You get what you pay for.
What to check
There have been various recalls for problems with front suspension, fuel igniting due to poor pipe location and brake failure issues but dealer maintained models should be a safe bet.
Bentley dealer servicing and repairs are essential to retain resale value but of course come at a price. If you have to ask, you can't afford it.
How it drives
The Bentley Arnage is smooth enough to lull you to sleep even at high speeds – until you turn off the traction control... With 0-60mph in less than 6 seconds and a top speed of 155mph with an almost unnecessarily huge torque spread, it's magnificent. It has the light steering of an executive saloon, a slick gearbox and the brakes of a sports car, essential to stop 2.5 tonnes of car with this kind of power output. Tremendously agile for such a monster, this is a car for Queen Elizabeth II, but on steroids.