2005 Bentley Continental GTEnlarge Photo
The story would then shift to the present tense. On a narrow, winding road wending its way across the ancient fields and hillocks of Welsh sheep country. That same journalist would be seated behind the wheel of the new Bentley Continental GT. The same car he’d been given a glimpse of 18 months before.
This is no movie. And there was good reason for all that secrecy. After nearly three-quarters of a century, the marriage of sporty Bentley and stately Rolls-Royce was coming to an abrupt end. Once given up for dead, Bentley had staged a surprising rebirth during the 1990s, unexpectedly eclipsing its long-standing partner. Soon it would be on its own, but rather than simply maintain course, Bentley was planning a dramatic shift in direction, one it was admittedly uncertain about.
That darkened room held the first clay model of the car that would redefine the British brand. But if company officials went in worried, their fears were soon put to rest. The reaction among the select few given the opportunity to see the new car was overwhelming. And so, with the help of its new parent, Volkswagen AG, Bentley raced to put prototype into production. This coming November, the first Continental GT will reach English showrooms, with a U.S. debut scheduled for early next year.