What If? 1989 Bentley Bentayga
Welcome to What If, a new feature from imaginative illustrator Abimelec Arellano and Hagerty. We’ll be taking you back in time—and possibly forward into the future—to meet alternative-universe automobiles. Even better, our time machine is working well enough to bring “short take” reviews along with the photographs and advertisements. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!
(Originally published in the Window Avenue Journal, April 7, 1989)
Not since Orestes and Clytemnestra put the Milli in Vanilli has there been a pair of scheming spouses like Rolls-Royce and Land Rover. As chambermaids of the Royal Presence they are inextricably bound in the popular imagination, Daddy-O. Speaking of; I’m a legend in my neighborhood because of all the cool cars I drive home. I’m a real cool Daddy-O.
So what’s happening with this “Bentayga” is a sort of salamander-sized tie-up between the belle of the ball and the girl who cleans out the stables. Very Hercules and Zeus, if you’re as hip to classical allusions as I am. You probably wish you had my erudition. But every rose has its thorn, as the kids say.
I attended a technical briefing on the Bentayga and I really understood what was being slapped down on the table, if you catch my drift. The Bentayga is apparently a distant relative of the Range Rover, which is a four-door sport-utility from Merrie England. This one’s got two doors. That’s not something I ever remember seeing in the Range Rover, which was new for 1987 even though it kind of looks old, doesn’t it?
Each “Bentayga”, which if you know your animals is actually a type of whale, is hand-beaten from aluminum panels in Crewe. That’s where the 6.75 liter (I like to write “litre”, because I’m sophisticated) turbo V-8 is installed, along with a four-speed transmission sourced from The General, which is a little nickname I’ve created for General Motors. Then it’s all capped off with the famous “Pantheon” Bentley grille. The Pantheon, of course, is a famous building. Famous to people like me, anyway. Probably not famous to you. Chances are you’re sitting on your cousin’s lap drinking a Mountain Dew and smoking a pack of Newports, not thinking about the kind of culture that permeates every last fiber of my being.
The Bentayga has what’s called full-time four-wheel drive. That means that all the wheels turn exactly the same speed all the time. It was invented by the British. Seating is Connolly Autolux leather. It’s available with a Mulliner Specification winch and “high-lift jack”, which I believe refers to airline terrorism somehow.
As the nation’s most awarded autowriter I expected that I’d be first in line to sample the Bentley for myself, but it would appear I was deuxieme violin behind Vehicle and Steerer, who totaled the press fleet Bentayga. Apparently some person named Felson did it, and he blamed the Bentayga for “rolling without warning” during a lane change. Which sounds unlikely, because if this could roll over then even the Bronco II could, and I’ve just been told by a company spokesperson that no Bronco II has rolled for any reason at any time. They actually called me up at two in the morning to communicate this fact, entirely without supporting context. Alas, it’s the price of journalism fame.
The Bentayga starts at $79,995 and increases rapidly as you put on a little of the la-di-da. Surely it’s the only way for a civilized agriculturalist to travel. Like such a gentleman farmer, the Stoic Bentley is outstanding in its field.