The Continental R, I would be driving came from the Bentley Historic collection. This imposing car was built in 1993 and finished in gleaming silver. It was the last Continental R made and had a scant 3,000 miles on the odometer.
Finding the ideal driving position was easy thanks to the electronic seat adjustment. With both hands on the wheel, I pushed back into the leather-clad driver’s seat, looked into the rear-view mirror and smiled. People often use phrases such as “like a gentlemen’s club”, I’d guess this is exactly what they meant.
The dashboard was a cornucopia of knobs, dials, chrome and wood. With the window down, I started the engine and gave a slight press on the accelerator to hear the glorious thrum of the 6.75-litre turbo-powered V8 engine.
In all the excitement, I’d forgotten how nervous I was. A wave of emotions suddenly came rushing back as it dawned on me I’d be driving this historic car, hundreds of miles and for the very first time. Add to this, it’s a big car, 210.3 inches (5,342 mm) in length and 80.5 inches (2,045 mm) wide. To give you some form of comparison, it’s noticeably longer and wider than a long-wheel-base Range Rover. Given that Sottish roads are often no more than winding country lanes, I’d need to be at my sharpest behind the wheel.
Eriska to Edinburgh
As the convoy left the Eriska Hotel, the club’s photographer, Tori, snapped away at the mass of happy and excited faces. I’d agreed with Mike that I would drive the first leg to the coffee stop where he would take over. On any other day, Mike’s brand-new gleaming white AMG GLE would garner the attention, but not today. With a £20+ million collection of historic and sporting Bentleys and Bentayga support vehicles, Mike’s best bet was to hang back and follow at the rear.
I pressed the sport mode button as we headed off into the glorious Scottish countryside, surrounded by hills and distant mountains, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I was very aware that others would be following me in the convoy so made every effort to always pick the perfect position on the road. I was eager to show everyone on the drive my 30+ years of experience behind the wheel.
The Continental R had endless power, steep hills were taken as easily as a smooth straight flat road. And, as I sat there with nothing more than the noise of the wind rushing past outside. I truly understood why millions of other car fans around the world hold this marque in the highest esteem.
All too quickly, we’d reached our coffee stop at the Loch Fyne Hotel and I chuckled as I realised that I had driven that leg without once thinking to turn on the radio. I located Mike and we sat down to discuss my experience. I blurted out, “it was amazing” and handed Mike the key. If he was expecting any pearls of wisdom about driving the car, I didn’t have any. It was a pleasure to drive and if I had a tape measure with me, I would’ve double-checked the length and width of the Continental R, as on the road it didn’t feel or handle like a big car.
With the changeover completed, Mike would drive the Continental to the Boat House restaurant at the Cameron House Hotel for lunch. As I sat in Mike’s GLE watching the convoy head off, with Mike’s broad smile burned into my memory, I felt a pang of sadness. Although I’d be back in this glorious procession in less than two hours, I would be, for a brief time, no longer a member of this very special club.
As we made our way through the hills and countryside, as brilliant as the latest mechanical marvel from AMG-Mercedes was, I longed to be in the convoy, behind the wheel of the Continental R.
The drive to the Boat House was, fortunately for me, the shortest of the driving legs. Before long, I was back with Mike to discuss his experience over some locally sourced, traditional fish and chips. A long discussion with Mike wasn’t necessary, his six short words, “that was boss, I loved it” were enough to convince me his feelings about the car matched mine. Like myself, Mike had no pearls of wisdom to share, what he did say which took me back a little was, “I’m going to buy a Bentley”. I laughed and said, “really?” He looked me in the eyes and said, “yes”. It was hook, line and sinker as we tucked into the food.