Was the Bentley Turbo RT a weak attempt to spice up an aging model or a highly-desirable new hot-rodded luxury saloon? Well, at the time of its introduction in 1997, cynics viewed the RT as a last-ditch effort to sell off the last of Bentley’s Turbo R models. They had a point, too, as of course the company wanted to sell the last of their Turbo Rs as quickly as possible: The new Arnage’s debut was on the horizon and these cars would be a lot harder to move with their brand-new successor sitting next to them on the lot. The Turbo RT ended up being more than just a mild upgrade, though, as these models today are viewed as the best, most desirable versions of the Turbo R platform.

More Power and New Styling

With help from a Garrett turbocharger, the Turbo R enjoyed an impressive 400 bhp and 800 Nm of torque from its 6.75-litre V8. This new power made excellent use of the Turbo R’s taut suspension. The top speed was a governor-limited 150 mph. While the increased power is certainly the headlining upgrade, Bentley didn’t stop there. While the sumptuously rich interior was kept mostly intact, a thicker steering wheel gave the car a more modern and athletic appearance. Meanwhile, a mesh grille, 5-spoke sport wheels, and body-coloured bumpers with mesh inserts continued the sporty theme. Buyers were able to choose between long- and short-wheelbase platforms as they ordered their Turbo RTs.  An even-more exclusive Turbo RT Mulliner spec was offered in 1998 only. This model received a 20-bhp bump over the standard car, in addition to some minor tweaks to the bodywork and wheels. Only 56 Mulliners were made.

Production and Legacy

In the end, Bentley was successful in creating a buzz for the last of their Turbo Rs. An updated aesthetic combined with increased power and exclusivity meant the Bentley Turbo RT was worth a look, even for those also considering a new Arnage. A mere 252 Bentley Turbo RTs were made, with production lasting from 1997 to 1998. Even though the Turbo R had been in production since way back in 1985, the Turbo RT spruced the car up enough to earn the respect of both buyers and the automotive press.

The Bentley Turbo RT Gallery

Images Copyright of: Historics.

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