I’ve been inspired to reflect on my teen years since I saw this post on the FP Wednesday. I was an arty, deeply closeted but obviously gay teenager who wore polyester ‘70s 3-piece suits to class to live out my Barney Miller TV Land fantasies. I didn’t have posters of F355's or Diablos or Vipers on my walls. Although I did lust after the Ferrari 456GT.
Instead, I had inkjet-printed 8 1/2 x 11 dialup-downloaded photos of the Rolls-Royce Corniche IV, Jaguar XJS 6.0, and Bentley Continental R, T, and the extremely rare SC. (And Buick Roadmasters and Cadillac Fleetwoods, but that’s another story.)
When the Arnage, Silver Seraph, and especially the Corniche V (which was actually a rebodied Azure rather than a convertible Seraph) first broke cover, literally every single car I drew in my extensive free time was inspired by their raised prows and gently tapering rear fenderlines which met their stately rooflines in a classic bustleback form. They were fantastic to me. Especially in an age when large coupes and convertibles were disappearing so rapidly, where big cars with V8s and RWD seemed permanently endangered, and every manufacturer embraced advanced cab-forward design. I longed for elegant stateliness, and the crew from Crewe provided ever-improved examples for me to lust over.
The Continental R/S/T/SC and Azure series is one of my absolute favorite designs. It makes me unbelievably happy to look at. The graceful coke-bottle haunches, simple, elegant taillights, imposing grille, bold quad round headlights, and upright greenhouses treated with the most delicate chrome surrounds... They stood with such presence. I devoured every article about them that I could find, and I can still vaguely recall what C/D and Autoweek wrote in their reviews of these cars back in the late 1990s.
They were wonderful. And they deserve more credit for revitalizing Bentley than we give them.