1997 Bentley Azure
The Bentley motor car company was founded back in 1919 by brothers W.O. and H.M. Bentley. The Bentley brothers were involved in the motor industry having acquired the agency to sell French built DFP (Doriot, Flandrin & Parant) cars in 1912, however, they desperately wanted to build their own cars. So that they did and the first Bentley motor car, being just a chassis with a dummy engine, was shown at the 1919 London Motor Show and in late 1921 the first production Bentleys were built and delivered to their new owners.
Bentley got the formula right and their cars proved to be luxurious, reliable and fast thus attracting buyers from the elite of society in period. The cars were also incredibly successful on the race track with Bentley achieving the ultimate success winning Le Mans in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930.
The difficult economic times in the late 1920’s had a major impact on Bentley and they stopped motor racing soon after winning Le Mans in 1930 and ultimately fell into receivership in 1931. Rolls-Royce acquired the assets of Bentley in late 1931. In this period Bentley produced some fabulous motor cars including the 3 Litre, 4½ Litre, ‘Blower Bentley’, 6½ Litre and 8 Litre models that are all today highly sought after by enthusiasts and collectors all over the world. The first new Bentley produced following Rolls Royce’s acquisition was the Bentley 3½ Litre which evolved into the Bentley 4¼ Litre. Bentleys of this era are also known as Derby Bentleys as they were built at Rolls Royce’s factory located in Derby in the north of England. Subsequent models included the Mark V, Mark VI and R-Type.
Rolls-Royce introduced the Silver Cloud and the Bentley S-Type in 1955 and for the next eleven years these models were at the cornerstone of Rolls-Royce / Bentley production. The Silver Cloud / S-Type evolved through three major model iterations, being the Silver Cloud I / Bentley S1, Silver Cloud II / Bentley S2 and Silver Cloud III / Bentley S3 until superseded by the Silver Shadow / Bentley T-Series.
The Bentley T-Series was first introduced in 1965 and remained in production through until 1980. However, all was not well for the Bentley brand. During the 1970’s and early 1980’s Bentley sales had fallen dramatically to a point where they were only 5% of the combined Rolls-Royce and Bentley production.
In August 1980 Rolls-Royce Motors Limited, which also include the Bentley brand was purchased by Vickers PLC. This triggered a significant strategic change. In the early days, Bentley was known for its high performance cars and Vickers’ strategy was to restore Bentleys sporting image. Subsequently, Bentley sales started to rise and by 1986 the Bentley to Rolls-Royce sales ratio had reached 40:60 and by 1991 it had reached parity.
In 1991 Bentley introduced the Bentley Continental R, a two door luxury coupe powered by a 6.75 litre V8 engine with a Garrett turbo charger. At the time it was the most expensive production car in the world. This was the first Bentley to feature a body not shared with a Rolls-Royce model since the 1965 S3 Continental.
In 1995 a convertible version was introduced, the Bentley Azure. Bentley turned to legendary Italian design house Pininfarina to help turn its existing Continental R into a convertible. It wanted it to be luxurious, it wanted it to be long and it wanted it to be the most decadent 4 seat grand tourer money could buy. Pininfarina also assisted to build the car. The Italians built the shell and soft top in their Florentine factory, before shipping the whole lot across to Crewe, where it would be assembled with the trusted Bentley touch.
The Bentley Azure was produced in two versions. The first generation was produced from 1995 until 2002 and the second generation, built on the Arnage platform, from 2006 until 2009. In total 1,087 first generation Azures were produced of which only 243 were right hand drive. 716 second generation Azures were produced of which only 131 were right hand drive.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a first generation 1997 Bentley Azure.
It is understood that there were only 7 Bentley Azures delivered new to Australia, making this an exceptionally rare car in this country. This particular car was delivered new by York Motors in Sydney to Mr. Keith Williams on the Gold Coast in Queensland. Mr. Williams was an Australian entrepreneur who is best known for developing some of Queensland’s most famous attractions like Sea World and Hamilton Island.
Mr. Williams kept the Bentley Azure until 2009 at which time the car had travelled approximately 20,000 km. The car spent the next 2 years in Melbourne with a well known prestige car dealer before being sold back to the Gold Coast. At that time the odometer read 23,998 km.
The current owner, who is a Brisbane based well-respected Rolls-Royce and Bentley enthusiast, purchased the car in 2016 through Bentley Brisbane and at that time the odometer read circa 42,000km. In 5 years of ownership this Bentley Azure has been sparingly used and today the odometer reads 51,108 km.
Today this Bentley Azure presents exceptionally well and it is hard to believe that the car is 25 years old! It would be hard to select a more traditional colour scheme than ‘Bentley racing green’ (colour code 9531113) with a magnolia interior (trim code A3997) as chosen by Mr Williams. A picture says a thousand words and this traditional colour scheme suits the car perfectly.
When you walk up to this car you can immediately tell that it is something special. It has an incredible presence and it oozes class. Pininfarina absolutely nailed the design. From every angle the Bentley Azure is elegant, yet at the same time there is something about this car that tells you it means business.
The paint work is original, though it may have had the odd touch up over the years. It has a really deep gloss and overall it is in excellent condition. Walk around the car and you struggle to find any defects. You have to look really hard to find the odd stone chip on the car. All of the exterior trim, including the lights, lenses, badges and the bright work as well as the glass are in really good condition. The wheels are a real feature on this car and they are generally in good condition, though the right front wheel has a small scuff mark. The soft top presents like new and is in excellent working order. It is operated by the push of a single button and quite a sight to see it open and close.
Get behind the wheel and everything is exactly what you expect from a Bentley. It’s all class and all oh so very English. The seats are big and very comfortable, but not too soft. They provide ample support and can be adjusted in many different ways to give you that perfect driving position. The steering wheel is also adjustable. Everything inside the car appears to be in working order and in very good condition. There is one exception and that is a small trim piece in between the driver’s seat and the centre tunnel which appears to be broken. The leather shows some light patina, most noticeably the driver’s seat which shows some wear. The rear seats appear to have hardly been used. The timberwork is a real feature on any Bentley and it is in excellent condition on this car. Even the carpets are in good condition.
Turn the key to start the engine and the big V8 quietly comes to life and immediately settles into a smooth idle. Again, exactly the way you expect it from a Bentley. Put the car in drive, gently touch the accelerator and the car easily moves forward. Make no mistake, this is a big and heavy car. It is almost 5.4 metres long and weighs almost 2,700 kg, however, the 6.75 litre V8 helps defy the statistics. Bentley were coy about quoting a power output for the car, however, its performance is simply staggering. With a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 240 km/h + the Bentley Azure is very fast for a car of its size, weight and aerodynamic profile. Before you know it, you’re cruising at the speed limit and within the blink of an eye you’re a travelling at ‘go to jail’ speed! The car is effortless to drive and once behind the wheel its sheer size and weight just disappears. The car is surprisingly quiet, you just feel like you’re riding a magic carpet gliding over the road. You can clearly tell this car is made for travelling long distances in comfort and after 25 years it still drives as well as the day it left the factory.
This car has always been well looked after and it is a credit to its previous owners. The car has its original book set, including a stamped service book as well as an excellent history file a number of service receipts. There is also a tool kit, jack and spare wheel and plush floor mats that will accompany the car.
Bentley only built 1,087 first series Azures, of which only 243 were factory right hand drive. As a result, these cars are collectable and highly sought after.
- a stunning example of one of Bentley’s ‘flagships’.
- a rare Australian delivered, factory right hand drive example. Understood to be 1 of only 7 such cars.
- finished in a fabulous period colour scheme of ‘Bentley racing green’ with a magnolia interior.
- full books and service history.
- low mileage with only 51,108 km on the odometer.
The Bentley Azure is a great example of what is today considered a ‘modern classic’ and it presents a unique opportunity for a Bentley enthusiast or astute collector.
- Bentley Azure
- 51,087 km