Aqua Calder

Admission time: Our South Yorkshire scribe admits to plutocratic leanings. Don’t judge him too harshly.  


Guilty pleasures: We all have them but usually they’re tucked away deep – embarrassment or face-saving proving too strong a reason for them to flourish. Only recently, my guarding firewall gave way, allowing a fissure to appear and hotter temperatures to rise, potentially leaving me well and truly in hot water. If only with the DTW readership.

Being neither plutocrat nor a continent crosser, what drives this inner desire I crave for luxury motoring? Can anyone with a sense of humility or the merest hint of environmental sympathy consider the purchase of such a vehicle without embarrassment?

A beast inside, creating those rising temperatures unequivocally says yes, do so. Therefore, all I need are the means for such a transaction. A crowdfunding attempt along the vein of “ordinary car enthusiast fancies luxury motoring. Will pay for own insurance and fuel. Thanks.” Sure to work.

1952 Bentley Continental Type-R: (c) Boldride

Let’s plug that fissure with a leaden and concrete core, hoping it will withstand the pressure whilst we seek the origins of this species. Today, we’d call it a skunkworks plan but back in 1952, designer J.P. Blatchley along with engineer Ivan Evernden happened on an idea to further Bentley’s grand touring, two door coupé credentials. The R-Type Continental was a sales success allowing those with means to travel in supreme comfort at 100mph. One wonders where you could achieve such speeds back in the days of black and white and no motorways.

Bentley were always keen to provide a rolling chassis to the coach building fraternity, giving the likes of Park Ward, James Young and of course, HJ Mulliner a chance to make their considerable mark. It was the latter who brought not only the four door shape to life but also the name of the Flying Spur. Mulliner’s Managing Director was Arthur Talbot Johnstone whose Scottish Borders roots were strong. The radiator of their first incarnation had the Flying Spur badge, and the name and style continued. Of the 432 S1 Continental’s made, just under half had their names given by the Clan Johnstone.

1959 Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur

With its 4.9 litre straight six engine wafting out 180bhp lasting but a year, for ‘59 the V8 arrived. With six point three litres of urge, you could own this grand touring giant for just over eight grand – around ten times the UK average wage back then. With Crewe’s own efforts gaining approval, the days of the coach builder were numbered, 1965 heralding the new unitary bodied T Series of vehicles. By no means was this the end for Mulliner.

Tied also to Rolls-Royce until the eventual split brought about by Wolfsburg and the Bavarians, Mulliner were installed into the Crewe works becoming Bentley’s own personalised creators to the over-remunerated. The Flying Spur name though lay dormant until 1995 when the googly eyed, Phaeton twinned, Dirk van Braeckel version arrived. I vaguely remember a Top Gear episode one winter’s night when James May tested the car out in the heat of Dubai. It wasn’t particularly memorable.

2008 Bentley Continental Flying Spur: (c) Strongauto

Becoming more so, this D1, Luc Donckerwolcke design (with exterior additions by Sangyup Lee) lasted six years, 2013-2019. A more sober and for something over five metres long, slightly less imposing saloon, maintaining the four eyes frontispiece though in a more jocular manner. Presence with a pleasing stance. And my particular focus is on this, early production model. Garnering a real-world look after a Scottish dousing, (this car being for sale in Glasgow).

Knocking my usual pejorative stance of grey in to the weeds, this hue is named by Bentley as Thunder. “I drive a W12 Flying Spur in Thunder” sounds fine by me. The Beluga black leather interior instils the imposing look but, as one would expect, it is beautifully ordained. I dearly wish to toggle the organ stops whilst sat in a 50mph contra-flowed traffic jam.

There are within me strong yearnings to check the Breitling by Bentley clock to see if I’ll be late for work. I seek the unbridled comfort of those diamond patterned stitched cosseting seat and feel the knurled adjustors. In reality, my main focus is that smooth, almost surreal amount of power emanating from that double-six engine.

As it’s our American brethren who have vouched for the benefits of cubic capacity in the recent past, my imagination runs wild with what sensations over 600bhp (and 800 Newton Metres) can generate in a four door express.  Several large steam locomotives, together working at full pelt; an accomplished choir that raises the church roof, a boiling geyser from the earth’s depths.

Bathed in serene comfort along with either a taut silence or your favourite choice of rousing tune – for me, Handel’s Water Music driving in the (Scottish) Border country, minus the Johnstone clan’s heraldic device – seeking the nearest fuel station with great haste

Cooling my ardour with an ice-cold shower; costs. Omitting the obvious purchasing price (£54k * for a third-hand Bentley? The original owner shelling out considerably north of £130,000…making this a bargain) the petrol and depreciation alone are going to be astronomical. Never have Bentley been for the common or garden chap, more the land owning brigadier.

With enough power under that elongated bonnet to cater to your entire street’s central heating needs (and enough spare for the hot water), my lust for that all corrupting power must lay dormant. With that, time for a hot drink, along with the guilty pleasure of a biscuit. Let’s make it a chocolate one.

* Since first researching the Spur, this very car has had its price reduced by four grand and in its seven years, deprecated by approximately ninety. Ouch.

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

19 thoughts on “Aqua Calder”

  1. thank you, thank you Andrew, a delightful confession.
    may you be entirely corrupted and funded to surge away
    in your Flying Spur.
    I’d prefer the original R-Type Continental, but then such
    fantasies were part of my 50s childhood.
    high cross-country speeds were indeed on the menu in
    them olden times, the paucity of traffic and policing
    encouraged it really.

  2. This clock from show-off dream make Breitling alone would be reason enough never to consider such a car.

    1. I detest Breitling too. I don’t think I ever met any Breitling enthusiasts with whose tastes I could even broadly agree. If I had a thick arm and needed a massive watch, I’d go for a Panerai.

  3. I have a similar confession Andrew, but for a 90’s model. Think they are superb. If I was ever in a position to have to chose between a RR or a Bentley, the Bentley would win hands down.

    Ps, how do I add a photo ?

    1. Tim: If you go the “Driven to Explain” section of the site (top right hand corner of the home page) you will find detailed instructions for that very thing.

  4. Good morning Mr Miles, and thank you for visiting my virtual surgery today. The symptoms you describe are consistent with a classic case of Bentleymania. I am prescribing you the following medication:

    Take two of these three times daily with a beverage and lie down in a dark room with no access to the Internet until the delusions pass. I’m sure you’ll be fine in about a week or so.

    1. I feel certain the chocolate will help… and it’s almost Easter.

  5. Pleasing stance? No I don’t think so. This car (and its GT sister) has always had the wrong proportions forced upon it by the long-nosed Phaeton underpinnings. The recent move to the Panamera platform has improved the stance of the new models, although I dislike the detailing.

    Anyhow, I have a guilt-free solution to those who crave such excessive vehicles:

    1. Buy second hand. Harder to get the spec you want, but you are buying a product which already exists, reducing consumption of the world’s precious resources, and you save a lot of money!
    2. Substitute short journeys for walking or cycling where possible. Much better fuel economy, and you improve your health.

  6. I´ve never liked the 4 doors, the GT yes, the 4 doors seems to me a macchian where the driver is required.

    Good thing we´re poor, otherwise the planet would have already broken up a long time ago.

  7. Dear Doctors, one and all

    Many thanks for your diagnoses and thank you for seeing me at such short notice. I have sampled the prescribed “pharmaceuticals”, done some exercise and got a bout of fresh air into my tubes, making me feel much better – for now.

    I fear though my symptoms may resurface thus am now reaching for the drinks cabinet: To the Scottish drink (well, it is after Noon…) and hope to exorcise these demons using such liquid anti depressants. Should my maladies continue, as a collective could you prescribe a course of anti-oligarch-isms, please?

    Many thanks
    Andrew. – you’ll find me in the back seat of the Spur, seeing what’s in the fridge…

    1. Andrew, I would merely draw your attention to the number plate on the car in the first photo and respectfully suggest that, to buy one, you would need to be…

  8. On a (loosely) related topic, I wonder how many people have made ill-advised purchases on Amazon or EBay purely out of boredom when stuck at home?

  9. Dear Doctor O’Callaghan

    Could your prescription serve me as well. After the post on the Porsche 928, I’ve found myself scoping the classifieds for 928 S and GTS

    Please advise

    Thank you very much

    1. Dear Roberto, I’m in no position to advise you as I did exactly the same thing after writing the piece! I need another car about as much as I need a frontal lobotomy, but an original 928 is a rather lovely thing…

      Setting your ISP parental controls to block AutoTrader and similar sites might be a start.

  10. Andrew I am becoming concerned for your mental well being once again. I recall a similar episode when we were last in Stuttgart and , as I recall, we resolved that with pizza and beer. You may have gone too far this time and become lost to the “Dark Side”. Auf wiedersehen Pet.

  11. Perhaps a good prescription from the doctor would make reference to the dimensions of the vehicle, and the size of the average parking space? In addition to the price of tyres and almost any spare part. That should do the trick!

    It might be catching, though – I had a quick look at Saabs a couple of days ago.

  12. Hi Andrew,

    I’am going to go against Dr. O’Callaghan’s advice, a known quack doctor, and prescribe a full luxury motoring kit with plenty of close-up pictures, youtube videos and designer’s grandiloquent speeches. In my career I’ve noted this dideases is chronic, no point fighting it.

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