How many of us will be heading out for long drives when we're free again? Probably quite a lot, and judging by the number of PHers talking about it on the forums, it seems plenty are planning post-lockdown voyages of the continental kind. Which got us thinking: what would be the preferred choice of four-wheeled transport to get us from the white cliffs to, say, the south of France in time for dinner? Okay - not necessarily a Bentley Brooklands Limited Edition Coupe - but you couldn' t ask for more power, pomp or exclusive circumstance.
Inspired by the machines of the 1920s, the car arrived in 2008 as a hard-topped version of the Azure convertible. Slender isn't a word you'd typically use in relation to Bentley products from a decade ago, but the Brooklands was a slip of a girl compared to the roomier Arnage. Dropping two doors also conferred a more sporting image on the coupe, appropriate for a 21st century take on the Bentley Boys philosophy and its iconic race track name.
Work under the bonnet unleashed 537hp from the hand-built 6.75-litre twin-turbo V8, but it's the frankly enormous 774lb ft of torque available at just 3,250rpm that affirms the model's ability to get you to that table booking in Marseille on time. It means 2.65 tonnes of ultra-plushness can sprint from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 184mph, perfect for making the most of mandatory pedal-to-the-metal exits from each and every toll gate. With a smooth-shifting ZF six-speed gearbox to transmit the power rearwards, progress is as easy as it is brisk.
The two-door Brooklands is reputed to do a decent job of handling its heft through the bends as well, thanks to all-round double wishbone suspension that's digitally controlled by electrohydraulic dampers with self-levelling tech. Doubtless it's a far cry from today's active anti-roll stuff, but a Bentley as prodigious as this suits a bit of body roll at pace. And with such soft, hip-hugging leather chairs and a cabin so lavishly trimmed with wood and metal, it's an unashamedly indulgent way to travel at great average speed from point to point. The only real catch being the thirst of that engine, which even according to the old, optimistic official tests, is said to offer only 14.4mpg combined.
But fuel prices have plummeted since the pandemic took hold, so as long as your voyage is timed to take place before prices at the pump bounce back, you'll at least get a saving of sorts. Not quite as much as you will on the purchase price, mind, with each of the 550 Brooklands Coupes having cost from £230,000 back in 2008, which is closing in on £315k in today's money. Today's Spotted has a mere 12,500 miles on the clock, yet it's up for less than £130k, or about 40 per cent of its original, inflation-corrected price. That seems remarkably good value given the capability, luxuriousness and rareness of the model, not to mention how striking it still looks to this day. As a car to welcome a return to free movement, then, it stands as a very fine option.
SPECIFICATION - BENTLEY BROOKLANDS COUPE LIMITED EDITION
Engine: 6,761cc, V8, twin-turbo
Transmission: six-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 537@4,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 774@3,250rpm
First registered: 2009
Price new: £230,000
Yours for: £129,750