The Fastest Limousine in the world
© Text & Photo by Amazing Magazines
(Arkivmaterial - Del av reportage publicerat i magasinet Amazing Editions)
Dawn is breaking as the foreign-registrered motor transport pulls into Strandvägen in Stockholm. The first rays of sunlight shed their red glow over the roofs, and the warm morning mist is gradually clearing from the boulevards. A gang of young people are fishing from the quayside at Nybrokajen while the morning newspapers are delivered to the city´s inhabitants. I am sitting on the steps outside the Royal Dramatic Theatre, waiting for the motor transport to unload my next assignment, a Bentley Continental Flying Spur, the fastest limousine in the world.
When the driver has found a suitable parking place he offloads his valuable cargo, which he parks outside the Bentley showroom. Together with Päivi Repola, head of marketing at Bentley Stockholm, he goes through the newly-arrived treasure and hands over a stack of documents. With a coffee mug in my hand, I stop and study this glamorous beauty from a distance. The dark paintwork with its shifting nuances is a perfect combination with the rounded shapes of the bodywork. Despite its generous proportions, the car has no distinctive details that attract unnecessary attention. Instead, the uncluttered lines of the bodywork project a rare sense of humility that blends in with its surroundings. The Flying Spur is definitely a car for the person who wants to remain anonymous, someone who prefers a comfortable silence behind a discreet facade.
While Päivi completes her delivery, she catches sight of me as I cross Artillerigatan. With the keys and press releases in her hand, she gives me a warm welcome. “You have to agree that this is a wonderful car”, she says with pride in her voice as she opens the driver´s door. “I think this is one of the finest models Bentley has produced”. I nod in agreement as my eyes take in the cream-coloured interior. “I think this is a car that will suit your magazine´s target group”, she says with a smile. I hardly have time to tell her how impressed I am by the car´s fantastic design before she asks me to get behind the wheel. “I think you will like this”, she continues, as she gets into the passenger seat. She takes me through the car´s controls and settings before she shakes my hand and wishes me luck, almost as if I had bought the Bentley for myself. Not bad, I think to myself as I select drive and head for home.
On my way through town I convinced myself to make a little detour past Kungsträdgården and down to Slussen. I should really take the direct route home and avoid the morning rush-hour traffic, but that does not appeal to me, particularly as I feel so very much at home in this luxurious environment. What´s more, I feel like a prince, leaning back in Bentley´s fantastic driver´s seat, but on the other hand it would be strange to feel any other way. I read the other day that it takes about eleven hides to complete the car´s interior. The same article also revealed that the development of the Continental models has quite an extensive background story. It began at the end of the last century, when Bentley made considerable investments in the works at Crewe, the company´s head office, among other things in development, manufacture and design. The Board of Directors then let the factory´s 550 hand-picked workers work side-by-side with Bentley´s highly-respected design department. To meet the challenge, help was also sought from the Volkswagen (the parent company) worldwide test facilities. For example, the unique shape of the Continental Flying Spur was developed in the parent company´s high-tech wind tunnel.
While I am musing over the car´s fascinating history, I suddenly realize that there isn´t another car in sight. I take a sly look at the instrument panel and see that the speedometer is graduated to well over 300 km/hr. This is, of course, a must for a car the manufacturer claims to have a top speed of 312 km/hr. I persuade myself that I could take the motorway, which would get me home in time for breakfast. With a smile on my lips I let my right foot learn a little more about the law of gravity. The six speed gearbox quickly makes the adjustment and the engine´s 552 horsepower responds at once. On my way across the bridge at Slussen I see a crowd of early-rising tourists who look as if they will wrench their necks in their efforts to satisfy their curiosity. I turn south to Söderledstunneln and move the drive selector from automatic to Tiptronic, the drive program that lets me use the paddles behind the wheel. According to the technical specifications it should be here, at about 1600 rpm that the compact 6 liter V12 engine provides its maximal effect. The dual turbo aggregate will soon deliver the full 650 Nm, a figure that, according to the press releases, is enough to hurl the almost 2.5 ton car up to 100 km/hr in only 5.2 seconds. When I have found the exact engine revolutions, I take a firmer grip of the wheel and let the technology do its job. The acceleration is astonishing, and I am glued to the soft seat. At first I had found it a little difficult to believe James May´s overwhelming description in Top Gear, the British motor program, of their test of the car in Dubai. Now I understand exactly what he means. Notwithstanding the opulent interior and comfortable back seat, it is behind the wheel that you get the best feel for the Flying Spur. Bentleys are quite simply cars for people who want nothing but the best.
Inspiring.se - © Text & Photo by Amazing Magazines