Why is a Bentley so special?

2010, Bentley, GTC Speed

The first morning I had the 2010 Bentley GTC Speed I was tasked to take my neighbor's kids, Kyle, 13 and Cole, 10 to school. Kyle and Cole's father, Eric, has a Subaru WRX and a Repsol Honda motorcycle. Eric's father has one of the few aerocars in the world. Eric's Mother only had Maseratis.

But it wasn't because of speed that the boys wanted me to take them to school. They wanted to be seen in the Bentley by the other kids. They had no idea the car cost $276,000. In fact, Cole guessed it cost $7,000. When I told him he could sell his house and buy two Bentleys he said he would have to ask his Mom if he could, but he thought it was a good idea.

Even though they had no concept of what money is worth, they could tell a quality car when they saw it and sat in it. Cole loved the heaviness of the keyfob. Kyle loved the way the roof went up and down and the little winglets that came up right next to his head when the roof was going down.

The weather wasn't playing nice with us, but the boys insisted we have the top down. Twenty-five seconds later I showed them where the heated seat button was and turned the heat on the floor. Sometimes you just have to overrule Mother Nature!

Kyle didn't care that the GTC Speed had an 1100-watt Naim audio system that cost $6,900, and is the most powerful stereo in any production car built today. What he loved was the freedom to listen to his favorite station, 107.9. It helped that he could hear it through the amphitheater like 14 Naim Speakers, including one sub-woofer, as did everyone else we passed on the street.

I had already called my girlfriend, Maryanne, to see where she wanted to go. She didn't care where we went, as long as we went. Our first stop was Nordstrom's at the Roseville Galleria. I needed MAC makeup and she wanted to ride in luxury.

Costco is not the place you often see a Bentley. Costco is known as the $150-club, because you can't get out of there without spending at least $150. The trunk wouldn't have held that many groceries.

Corti's in Sacramento would be more suiting. Corti Brothers is the only place I know in the Sacramento area that carries truffle butter and rotolini. And if you spend $150 at Cortis you're still not going to need a huge boot to carry that bag of groceries.

Maryanne's husband, Stewart, used to race cars in his younger day. We knew he would want to see this bad boy, and for all the reasons this car was produced. This is Bentley's highest performance convertible ever. The drivetrain is a 6.0-liter with an output of 600 horsepower, and 553 lb-ft @ 1700 - 5600rpm of torque. That is nine percent higher in horsepower than the GTC and fifteen percent higher in torque. The Speed engine is a twin-turbocharged W12, mated with an all-wheel drive six-speed fully automatic or sequential manual operation with paddleshift transmission.

On Sunday we drove to Naggiers Vineyard in Nevada City for a wine tasting. No, the driver did not drink, thank you very much. It is a lesson my deceased brother-in-law taught me all too well.

It rained most the day, so we kept the top up, for the most part. Maryanne noted the drilled alloy sport foot pedals, and the brushed aluminum. It's fun to watch people take note of elegant pieces of work. Suzi liked the diamond quilted interior door in Saffron hide, though she might not have known that was what it was. Jill liked the chrome and gear shifter and "I just like how clean the windshield is".

The guys got to ride on the way back. We didn't try the 0-60 in 4.6 seconds because of the rain, but we did the best we could. I felt a small amount of cowl shake, but that is usual for a convertible, but the Bentley was better than most.

The crowning moment was when I ran into Katie at the gym. Louie, her husband, put together a 1969 Corvette Stingray with 700 horsepower, and used to race it. Katie had their eight month old son, Ben, with her. We took Ben out for some pictures in the Bentley. Get it, Ben in the Ben-tley. I'm sure the seat with the embroidered B with wings around it was made especially for Ben.

What would have been an otherwise rainy week in a falling economy turned out to be spectacular for so many people.

Except Cole, his Mom said he couldn't sell the house.

By Lou Ann Hammond

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Images of the 2010, Bentley GTC Speed

2010 Bentley GTC Speed
2010 Bentley GTC Speed
a substantial key fob
a substantial key fob
Ben in the Ben-tley
Ben in the Ben-tley
beautiful, even on a rainy day
beautiful, even on a rainy day