My Car Quest

April 20, 2019

The 1999 Bentley Continental SC Is A Future Collector Car

Why is it collectable, you may ask? Because it’s a true Sedanca….

by Wallace Wyss –

To a guy like me, from Detroit, who didn’t see Bentleys and Rollers until I came out to the West Coast in the ‘70s, I’m old school. I like the Fifties and Sixties Rollers and Bentleys.

Cars like say the Mulliner/Park Ward ’56 Continental drophead coupe. I normally don’t even consider the 1990s, thinking everything “modern day” would be lacking the class and exclusivity of the more handmade coachbuilt Bentleys of decades earlier.

Now after reading a book, Bentley Since 1965, that changed my mind because it reminded me of a Bentley I saw at an auto show possibly the 1999 LA Auto Show—the Bentley Continental S/C.

Bentley Continental SC

What makes the car interesting to me especially is that…it wasn’t Bentley that designed it, but two outside dudes came up with it—John Heffernan and Ken Greenley—from an outside design firm. The more enlightened car companies do that sometimes—figuring their own gene pool is dead of good genes, so they bring some outside blood in to suggest a new direction.

The goal was to make a two door coupe version of the already existing Turbo R. Something akin to the 1985 Concept 90 show car, which ironically looks a helluva lot more like a Lincoln Continental than it does a Bentley.

The production Continental R made its debut at the 1991 Geneva Motor Show. What made the car so attention getting is that it wasn’t just a Rolls wearing Bentley’s “flying B” hood mascot and B insignias here and there. No, this was an all new body, a tad more than 17 feet long, nearly 5 feet tall, 6 1/2 feet wide and, the bad part, pushing 5000 lbs. of weight.

But, heavy as that was, it had a turbocharged Bentley 6.75 liter V-8 from the Bentley Turbo R under the bonnet, rated at 385 hp. That engine was mated to an out of the box GM tranny, the 4L80-E four-speed automatic transmission.

Bentley Continental SC

Bentley already had re-discovered that, even with this niche car, there were niches among niches—the more special you could make a car, the more you would have buyers looking for it. So there was even a “short wheelbase” Continental T, described by one writer as “a refined street-brawler”, which had 4 inches cut from the rear seat area directly behind the doors and was powered by a V8 modded to produce a whomping 650-lb.ft. of torque at 2,200 RPM. Motor Trend drove a Continental T to a 14.5-second quarter-mile and managed to go 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds. Their test car almost knocked their price scale a kilter with a window sticker of $299,000.

One thing I like about the Continental R is the dashboard grouping of a number of gauges into a cluster in the center of the dash with seven gauges, similar to the layout in the Shark Corvette show car of decades before.

Bentley Continental SC

In the T they even introduced engine turned aluminum as available for the dash, similar to the ’70½ Pontiac Trans Am. But I like it in wood just as well. Why do I like so many gauges—because I think it makes you, the driver, feel more like Captain of the ship, you are monitoring all the engines and so forth and you, and only you, know what all those gauges mean.

THIS IS DEDICATED TO THE ONE I LOVE

Now comes the model I am recommending for sainthood, or, I mean “potential collector status,” the SC.

For this design the Bentley boys reached back into the time machine and pulled out a flamboyant roof style that harkened back to pre-war Bentleys, and was even seen in a few postwar Bentleys (saw one at the Palm Springs Desert Concorso of 2015, on a Mk. VI or R-type chassis, the Sedanca de Ville). The name “Sedanca” goes back to a type of carriage with a slide back front roof. This was carried into motorcars up until the late ‘30s and then simply died out in popularity.

Bentley Continental SC

THE ITALIAN CONNECTION

Though the name Pininfarina only occasionally is mentioned in Rolls and Bentley history, mostly as the builders of the Camargue, they were in fact subcontracted by Bentley to do the sheetmetal for the SC version. Though it does not have a central spine or “t-top” like American cars with removable roof sections, the glass roof panels were in fact in two pieces.

Unlike American cars with this feature, the Bentley had a special place to stow the tops in the trunk. As displayed in the picture above, there was also a fixed glass roof panel that extended the rest of the way back, presumably with some way of shielding it on a too hot of a day.

Hemmings mentioned that a celebrity buyer of a car they found was “Iron Mike” Tyson who must have ordered a few extras because although the list price was supposed to be a mere $391,000, his cost nearly $500,000. Motor Trend found it advertised on the net for close to half of that. (How the mighty have fallen, and all that…)

Bentley Continental SC

I am nominating this model as a future collectable because it is a 1990s car that is as rare or rarer than many of the Sixties models. And at that original price there was probably a few celebrity owners—which can increase a car’s resale at auction if the celebrity is still remembered.

The engine was rated at 400 bhp with 590 ft-lbs. of torque. Admittedly that was not the most powerful engine in the Bentley garage, and further slowing it down a bit was the extra 350 lbs. that came as a result of beefing up the frame to make up for the lost rigidity of the fully open top in front. The car had the Continental T suspension and 285/45 Pirelli PZero tires on 18” tall five spoke alloy wheels which could be ordered in chrome. There was even a switch that could be touched to electrically lock the roof panels in place. The pedals were drilled for lightness (laughable in a 5,000 lb. car!)

The car was the last Bentley made before the two companies broke apart, and thus was given final approval by VW, who now do a gangbusters job running Bentley.

How much are the SC models worth today? Well, when faced with such a rare model, it’s a little hard to come up with a value because your precedents at auction are few and far between and might even be a few years old. I first found RM Sothebys sold one for $121,000 in 2010 at their Scottsdale sale, and that car had a lot of extras ($75,000 worth added by a later owner).

But when I went to see pictures of the insipidly Robins Egg blue one that Auctions America ran through their auction in Burbank in 2014 I found that it was a No Sale at $110,000 high bid. I would venture to say these models are not going to go any lower in price and will soon go upward once their special status is recognized….

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of the Incredible Barn Finds series , available direct from the publisher at (715) 381 9755.

 

 

1024px-Bentley_logo.svg

Summary
The 1999 Bentley Continental SC Is A Future Collector Car
Article Name
The 1999 Bentley Continental SC Is A Future Collector Car
Description
This Bentley is really special.
Author

Comments

  1. Mark Carbone says

    F.Y.I.
    I just got a “Maliicious Website Blocked” notice from my Malware Malabytes App.
    Maybe some one hacked your site ?
    I have been following U for years.
    Never seen it B4

  2. I like the style of these Bentleys better than the contemporary ones. They have a certain grace to them, as opposed to the brutishness of the current ones.

Speak Your Mind

*