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Dan Trent: The Arnage T is a proper old-school Bentley

05th June 2017
dan_trent_headshot.jpg Dan Trent

Last week I was raving about a delicate, lightweight Honda hybrid boasting low-drag aerodynamics and fuel saving electrical assistance. From there to a brick outhouse Bentley with a 6.75-litre turbocharged V8, real-world fuel consumption barely into double figures and CO2 output that would have your average coal fired power station looking pretty virtuous. Such is the danger of a wandering eye and time in the classifieds.

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Inspiration for checking out a big Bentley came from bumping into the owner of one at a filling station the other night. Chances of that happening? Pretty high, given the Arnage’s appetite for fuel. A 500bhp V8, 2.6-tonne kerbweight and aerodynamics of a stately home will do that. I just thought it looked absolutely magnificent though. Magnificent enough that such trivialities would be set aside as soon as you plonked your backside back onto the thick leather of the driver’s seat.

There are, to my mind, two levels of Bentley. The Continental GT and its related Flying Spur saloon are all very well but are undeniably the new money end of the spectrum. Cars like the Arnage and the current Mulsanne might wear the same badge and be sold from the same showroom but they feel like totally different cars, aimed at a very different audience. The real old money will always prefer a Rolls of course. Or perhaps a tatty Defender. But if you want a car true to the more hedonistic, caddish image Bentley has always thrived on you need something like an Arnage.

If you’re feeling brave you can pick one up for around £20K these days, these being from the earlier cars with the glazed in headlights and with the (all things relative) less powerful 400bhp version of the classic V8. The car underwent some significant revisions as it matured though, the 2005 model year cars getting the Continental inspired twin headlights and more power. From 2006 onwards though things took a decisive step up, the ageing four-speed automatic replaced by a more modern six-speeder, power going up to 500bhp for the T and torque rising to a monumental 737lb ft – 1,000Nm for those of a metric persuasion.

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If I was going to do it I’d have to have one of these later cars, if only for that crushing performance and the more modern running gear. Now you’re talking more like £50,000, which is admittedly some way beyond tempting impulse purchase. And demanding of some fairly sturdy denial about matters fiscal, be they related to fuelling it, maintaining it or budgeting for depreciation. Like you should be concerned about such things if you’re buying a Bentley!

Which one then? Well, it seems Bentley buyers are a conservative bunch, favouring silvers, metallic greys and blacks. Nightmare to keep clean, obviously. But I guess you have a man for that. And this Mulliner-badged 2006 Arnage T does look rather spectacularly sinister, not least with its blacked-out grille. So much cooler than the chintzy chrome ones favoured by many owners. The black leather will be less prone to staining than the cream upholstery seen in many too and the black veneer looks supremely classy. There’s more than a hint of menace about this car, which is I think appropriate for a Bentley of this type.

It’s only skin deep though. If I ever take the plunge and you see me filling it up (again) at your local petrol station, by all means, pop over and say hello!    

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