Our Cars: 1988 Bentley Turbo R
10 February 2015: Latest arrival: Bentley Turbo R
Before I was old enough to drive, and I used to look forward to getting my fix from that week’s or months car mags (there was no internet then, of course), the Bentley Turbo R was one of the most desirable.
Yes, the Lamborghini Countach was outrageous and other-worldly, the Ferrari Testarossa had 1980s style by the bucketload as well as Italian charm. But for saloons, the Bentley Turbo R was the pinnacle.
If Rolls-Royce made the best cars in the world (it probably didn’t, but it certainly had the heritage to stake a strong claim), then the Bentley Turbo R was the fastest best car in the world.
The Turbo R was developed from the Mulsanne Turbo, a high performance version of the Mulsanne (sister car to the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit), introduced in 1982.
There were no changes to the chassis for the additional performance with the Mulsanne Turbo. But in 1985, the Turbo R arrived with a much stiffer set-up. It was thought that both models would exist alongside each other, but demand for the softer Mulsanne Turbo tailed off.
I bought my Turbo R in 2012. I’m no stranger to thirsty V8s – I had sold my Jensen SP auto three weeks before buying the Bentley, so had, in fact, downsized engines.
My car was registered in 1988, a year after Rolls-Royce and Bentley models in the UK adopted fuel injection and ABS. The twin headlamps are retro-fitted – they weren’t standard on Bentleys until 1989, and my 17-inch wheels belong on a mid-1990s Turbo R. Until 1994 they ran on 15-inch wheels.
Both of these features are desirable upgrades, not least because they take years off the car and, ignoring the E-plate, it could pass for a later model.
Inside there are tell-tale signs that betray its true age. It has a three-speed automatic gearbox with the selector on the steering column. In 1990, when four-speed transmissions were introduced, Bentleys had a ‘sportier’ conventional auto gearstick selector while Rolls-Royce retained the column-mounted item.
So far, ownership is going well. Sometimes a few jobs need doing at once and the bills look quite unpleasant, but in general maintenance and one-off fixes aren’t too bad.
No doubt, you’ll be reading about some of them over the coming months.