Our Cars: 1988 Bentley Turbo R
16 June 2016: Bentley’s bodywork is complete
It could have been fresh from the factory. Gleaming in the afternoon sun, as it perhaps would have been on the day in March 1988 when it was registered for its first owner.
After around 120 hours of labour, taking the top half of the bodywork back to bare metal before respraying, blowing over the remaining bodywork after treating a few problem areas of corrosion, the Turbo R was once again looking splendid.
It wasn’t straightforward, of course. The less visible problem areas of corrosion under the car were large enough to warrant being chopped out and some fresh steel welded in.
The heating element in my rear window was broken, and unlike a conventional one where it might be possible to repair it, this was a fine element concealed within the pane itself. A new window was required if I wanted one that worked.
The door cappings, freshly revarnished, were fitted as the various elements of the car were reassembled, and it was polished ready for collection.
The window seals were all replaced, and the door handles and badges now have gaskets between them and the body work – a standard feature of later cars, and something that should improve the longevity of the work done to the exterior.
The bill? I haven’t seen the itemised version yet, but the cost with the door cappings (£320) came to a grand total of £9012.38. This is a substantial proportion of the car’s value, and any increase in the value based on the improved condition would be minimal.
But that isn’t why we do these things. The Turbo R is mechanically sound; the interior is in great condition; it was utterly deserving of the mainly cosmetic work required to bring the exterior up to standard.
Maybe the car will pay me back one day, but there isn’t much sign of that happening soon. And the effect of improving the exterior to such an extent could have been counterproductive financially in the short term.
It’s made me take a look at the interior and where the hide could be refurbished. Then there’s the sheepskin rugs. Could I afford a new set at £700? Perhaps not this year as a service and MOT are due within weeks.
If I didn’t see the Turbo R as a ‘project’ when I bought it almost four years ago, the last few months have brought home the fact that all classics end up as projects somehow.
Restoration photos: Pete Wiles, Colbrook Specialists.