A history lesson…
The original Bentley Continental dates back to the mid 1980s, when a prototype for the car produced under the Rolls-Royce marque made an appearance at the Geneva Show. It was not until the production-ready Continental R was revealed in 1991 that the range got a proper launch, again making a splash at Geneva where it is said that one wealthy onlooker attempted to purchase the car that Bentley had flown over for the occasion.
The used Bentley Continental range had everything that a classic luxury vehicle requires; a bold design and tons of power, both of which help to distract from the fact that it might not be the most technically perfect car ever built. Large, heavy and inefficient, the Bentley Continental R was still seen as a must-have motor amongst the moneyed elites. Three years after its launch it was joined by the faster Continental S, before the insanely powerful Continental T arrived in 1996.
The original Continental range survived until 2003, at which point the Continental GT was brought in as its replacement.
Bang for your buck
The new Bentley Continental is not a car that is easy to ignore. It can feel like it takes five minutes to walk from one end to the other, but despite this it is actually quite cramped if you try to squeeze into the rear passenger seats.
The interiors tend to be outfitted with plenty of leather and wood, although Bentley did buy in some of the more plasticy elements from other companies and there is something of a disconnect between its luxurious elements and the occasional illusion-shatteringly cheap component.
While modern motoring trends have left the older Continentals feeling a little archaic on the inside, they still look classy and composed outside, as long as you do not mind facing a challenge each time you need to park.
What you'll pay
The older Continental models are arguably the best investment for anyone looking to hold onto a model that will eventually become a valuable classic.
At £27,000 or so a 1991 Continental R will not depreciate much and should come with around 180,000 miles on the clock.
If you pick a model from closer to the end of the range's lifespan then you can expect to pay closer to £35,000. For this price, the depreciation drop-off can be more of a problem, with £500 monthly reductions to be expected.
What to check
This is a serious vehicle for people who take maintenance seriously, so only buy from an official dealer and ensure that the service history is exclusively attributed to a centre that has the Rolls-Royce official seal of approval.
The Continental range can cost quite a lot to run, with brake pads sitting at around £113 and a single lens for the headlamp requiring a £67 payment. If you need to replace the exhaust system on a mid-90s example then the typical cost will be £1200, with labour going on top of this.
How it drives
In a straight line the 6.75 litre V8 can launch the Bentley Continental forwards at a rapid pace, with turbocharged models delivering even more performance. Its weight and length mean that cornering is not exactly a strong suit, but then the Continental is far happier when cruising.