2003 azure mulliner – c2 bml
When the Bentley Continental convertible ceased production in 1995, it could trace its origins back almost 30 years to the T-Series Corniche. Fortunately, by the mid-1990s there was a new high-performance Bentley platform for the Continental’s replacement; the Continental R, launched to acclaim in 1991. The new convertible, which made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1995, also gained a new name in Bentley nomenclature. Bentley Azure conjured up images of warm climates and blue skies, ideal conditions for top-down motoring in a thoroughbred Bentley.
Creating a convertible from the Continental R platform was a challenge, requiring 190kg of stiffening materials in floor, sills and screen to compensate for the absence of roof. Bodyshells were assembled in Italy by Pininfarina, fitted with the automatic soft-top, painted and shipped back for finishing at Crewe. But from the first glance it was clear that the new Azure was as elegant a design as the Continental R it shared underpinnings with.
This first-generation Azure was in production from 1995 to 2003, during which time 1,311 were made. The original power output from its 6.75-litre turbocharged V8 was 384bhp, giving a governed top speed of 155mph. By 1995 the standard Azure had been superseded by the Azure Mulliner, which boasted an output of 420bhp and 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds. Other Azure Mulliner features included Mulliner badging and flared wheel arches housing 5-spoke 18-inch wheels.
The Azure Mulliner in the Bentley Heritage Collection is the final model off the production line, an Azure Mulliner Final Series Performance. Just 62 examples of the Final Series performance were built, each to its owner’s individual specification. The Heritage Collection example is finished in Peacock Blue with a Blue hood and upholstered in a dual colour combination of French Navy and Cotswold Hide. Driver instrumentation was taken from the Continental T, with a turbo boost gauge and chrome starter button. Other features include wing vents, ‘jewel’ filler cap, diamond quilted seats and dark burr walnut interior trim with Bentley wings inlaid in the waistrails.
|1995-2003; this model 2003
|Azure total production: 1,311 – 11 Final Series Performance
|Convertible; 2-doors, 4-seats; weight 2,610 kg
|V8 6,750 cc. 2 pushrod overhead valves; hydraulic tappets; gear-driven central cast iron camshaft; aluminium block and heads; Garrett AiResearch TO48 Turbocharger; intercooler; Zytek EMS3 Engine Management
|420 bhp (313 kW) @ 4,000 rpm
|Rear wheel drive; GM Turbo Hydra-Matic 4-speed transmission; final drive 2.69:1
|Steel monocoque, front and rear sub-frames; independent front suspension by coil springs and wishbones; anti-roll bar; independent rear suspension by coil springs and semi-trailing arms; anti-roll bar; electronic ride and traction control
|Wheelbase 306.1 cm (120.5 in); track 154.9 cm (61 in); length 535 cm
|Maximum speed 152 mph (245 km/h); 0-100 km/h (62 mph) 6.2 sec