During the decades that Rolls-Royce and Bentley spent as a tightly intertwined couple, the two brands were each producing largely the same products. Though the Bentleys were supposedly sportier and the Rolls-Royces more luxurious, the purchase of either car always seemed to boil down to an act of brand loyalty rather than a logical decision.
The Bentley Brooklands fit perfectly the badge-engineered mold that had come to define so many Bentley products, as it was a purportedly sporting version of a basic design that had already been in use by Rolls-Royce/Bentley for over a decade. The platform on which the Brooklands was based made its debut for 1980, as the basis for the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit (or long-wheelbase Silver Spur) and Bentley Mulsanne. By the time the Brooklands was introduced in 1992 its platform was dated for such a high-end machine, making the Brooklands more endearingly quaint than impressively competitive.
The Brooklands was named after one of early motor racing's most famous tracks, a site where Bentley had proven itself a supremely capable marque in the years before its affiliation with Rolls-Royce. Recalling the Brooklands name on a car that, badging aside, had no connection to prewar racing Bentleys was perhaps a marketing gimmick, but it was nevertheless an evocative name that paid tribute to Bentley's triumphant early years.
Mechanically, the Bentley Brooklands had much in common with the other Rolls-Royce/Bentley models that used its platform. The familiar V8, an all-alloy design displacing 6.75 liters, was employed. The engine featured wet, cast-iron cylinder liners and Bosch fuel injection and ignition control. Four-wheel disc brakes and all-independent suspension were used to give the 2-and-a-half-ton Bentley manageable driving characteristics. The suspension was self-leveling, and featured an automatic ride control system.
The interior and exterior of the Brooklands, with their now-familiar forms, were traditionally opulent. A large, vertically veined grilled with quad headlights gave the big Bentley a menacing face, though its elegant proportions announced the car's unwillingness to behave brashly. Inside, leather and wood were used to cover nearly every visible surface. A full complement of neatly inset gauges and an automatic transmission shift lever located in the center console (instead of on the steering column) suggested the Bentley's supposed driver's car mentality.
There were relatively many Rolls-Royces and Bentleys on the road with the same basic look as the Brooklands, since the body design had been used on so many different models. The Brooklands itself was quite exclusive, though, with just 1,380 produced including 172 long-wheelbase models.
It wasn't until Volkswagen's takeover of Bentley in 1998 that the company could part ways with Rolls-Royce and resume building luxurious cars with genuinely sporting characteristics. Now, models like the Continental GT have come to redefine Bentley's image while paying homage to the company's early history as a builder of impressive machines for both road and track. The Bentley Brooklands, though a superb car that was at least somewhat more driver-oriented than its Rolls-Royce counterparts, was a far cry from Bentley's impressive past and a sore reminder of Rolls-Royce's dominating influence over Bentley models.Sources:
'Bentley History.' Thorough-BredCars.com n. pag. Web. 8 Jul 2010. http://www.thoroughbred-cars.com/cars/UK/Bentley/bentley%20history.htm.
Roßfeldt, K.-J. 'Bentley Brooklands.' RRAB.com (2009): n. pag. Web. 8 Jul 2010. http://rrab.com/bbrook.htm#top.By Evan Acuña
The Bentley Brooklands was produced from 1992 through 1997 as the marque's flagship vehicle. It was named to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the English track, the Brooklands.
In comparison to the Continental R, there was many similarities both in design and mechanical components. The big difference between the two was the Continental R's turbocharged engine which raised the horsepower from 385. Power was increased slightly for the Bentley models in 1994 with dual airbags becoming standard equipment.By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2010