- One of only nine examples converted by Zagato of Milan; representing the first collaboration between Bentley and Zagato
- Built by Bentley as a Continental GT Speed, before being adapted into its current guise
- Powered by a 600 horsepower, 5,998 cc twin-turbocharged W-12 engine
- Just two owners and little over 5,000 km covered since new
If it’s possible to put a sheen on an already polished product, the Bentley Continental GTZ is perhaps case in point. Intended for Bentley customers wanting for the most exclusive luxuries, the special edition represents a unique partnership between the historic British marque and the equally celebrated Italian coachbuilder, Zagato. Available only in very limited numbers, the made-to-measure and seldom-seen Continental GTZ truly represents the pinnacle of refinement. As with anything of such important standing, this unique car comes with its own fascinating backstory.
The journey began when Bentley unveiled the Continental GT at the 2002 Paris Motor Show, marking the beginning of a bold new era for the British manufacturer. Ever since the 3 Litre of 1919, the marque had been a watchword for superlative quality and effortless pace, but by the 1970s production had dwindled. All but ignored by its parent Rolls-Royce, the once-proud brand was at risk of extinction. The introduction in 1985 of the brutally quick and hugely entertaining Turbo R had gone a long way towards reviving the marque’s fortunes, and led to glamorous new models such as the Continental R and Azure. The harsh economic reality remained, however, that in the 21st Century these ultra-luxurious, hand-built leviathans were not enough to sustain the brand. With new owner Volkswagen bankrolling the project, it was time to expand the appeal of Bentley to a younger audience.
Powered by a 5,998 cc twin-turbocharged W-12 engine developing 552 horsepower and a massive 479 ft lb of torque at just 1,600 rpm, the Continental GT perpetuated the Bentley philosophy of immense performance combined with extravagant luxury. Equipped with permanent four-wheel drive and a six-speed ZF Tiptronic gearbox, the brutish four-seater fastback could storm from rest to 100 km/h in under five seconds, while the top speed was well in excess of 300 km/h. Yet unlike previous Bentleys, this noticeably more compact machine delivered a tauter, more dynamic driving experience. Though still largely hand-finished, it was conceived for mass production. The £110,000 list price—while still relatively high—put Bentley ownership within reach of a whole new demographic.
The formula was an unparalleled success, and was further enhanced by the addition of the Speed model. Thanks to a lowered ride height, plus uprated suspension and steering, this 2,350 kg, 600 horsepower W-12 hot-rod could boast truly staggering performance, yet remained as cosseting as ever. Supplied in December 2007 by DPM Motors of Monaco, chassis “053420” was just such a machine, and was specified with such desirable extras as carbon-ceramic disc brakes and 20-inch alloy wheels—the various options taking the price to some €227,700. The Bentley was acquired by its current owner in February 2015 having covered a mere 3,050 km. In search of the ultimate in exclusivity, he then commissioned Italian coachbuilder Zagato to undertake a €415,000 makeover of the Raul Pires and Dirk van Braeckel-designed coupé. The result, one of only nine Continental GTs reconfigured by the legendary Milanese carrozzeria since the first was shown at Geneva in 2008 is a truly stunning motorcar.
The Bentley, which incorporates such trademark Zagato features as the “double-bubble” roofline, has been unused since the conversion was completed in the spring of 2016, and shows only 5,000 km at the time of cataloguing. Having benefited from a bare-metal respray when the body modifications were carried out, the car unsurprisingly remains in superb condition throughout. An extremely rare opportunity to acquire a fastidiously created coach-built Bentley with jaw-dropping performance, the Continental GTZ deserves pride of place in any serious collection.