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Bentley Turbo R and Mulsanne: Buying guide and review (1980-1997)

Bentley Turbo R and Mulsanne: Buying guide and review (1980-1997) Classic and Performance Car
Bentley Turbo R Bentley Turbo R Bentley Turbo R Bentley Turbo R
While the 1960s T-series is the Bentley most people initially think they want, many come to the quick realisation that you can actually buy a Turbo R for far less. The fact it's 20 years younger, offers massively improved performance and decent handling all make it the much more desirable machine too. Even the fuel economy would be slightly better – up from 13mpg to, ooh, 14mpg, say. Besides, being behind the wheel conveys so much feel-good factor that the expense doesn’t seem to matter.
 
Whether you go for the Mulsanne, Eight, Brooklands, Turbo R, S or RT, there is no shortage of variation within this luxurious theme. The array of models offered by Bentley throughout the 1980s and 1990s was nothing short of bewildering. Look beyond the differing trim and badging, the Turbo R variants all offer unbeatable opulence, comfort, refinement and pace.
 
Compared to modern day Bentleys like the Continental GT and Flying Spur, a Turbo R feels like it’s from a different age, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Climb on board and the first thing you will most likely notice is the wonderful smell of the old fashioned leather. On the road, the Turbo R is well mannered, and brisk when pushed, not that you’ll really be doing much of that.
 
For years these squared-off saloons were almost an embarrassment to Bentley, with neglected examples outnumbering good cars and values on the floor. Now, many of those tatty Bentleys have been broken for parts and while there are still some heaps about, the cherished examples represent a higher proportion of the cars left.
 
Although values are now on the up for good cars, these imposing saloons can still offer astonishing value. But while purchase costs can be on the low side you can’t run one of these cars on a shoestring, so don’t be taken in by those ‘Bentley for Mondeo money’ headlines.
 
Which one to buy?
 
There were a lot of different Mulsanne/Turbo derivatives and they drive differently depending on the wheelbase, suspension, fuelling, engine management and more. Generally, the later the car the more reliable and comfortable it is, as earlier editions weren’t so well developed. 
 
Post-1986 cars got fuel injection, which is much more reliable than the earlier Solex carburettor. Because these cars need specialist maintenance and there’s no conversion available, you’re better off avoiding an early car and going for a fuel-injected edition instead. Fuel-injected cars don’t have these problems while they also offer better economy, although this is relative of course.
 
But while specification is important, condition is even more so as reviving a tired car will always cost plenty. This is why the key is to find a car that’s had plenty of money lavished on it, especially if it’s covered a high mileage. Key components ultimately wear out, with replacements generally costly, so buy a car that’s already had plenty of fresh parts. If you buy a tatty Bentley you’ll always end up seriously out of pocket by the time it’s been put right. An extra few thousand pounds spent at purchase time will invariably save you many thousands more in the long term.
 
Performance and specs
 
Engine 6750cc, V8
Power 400bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque 590lb ft @ 2000rpm
Top speed 152mph
0-60mph 6.7sec
Consumption 13mpg
Gearbox Four-speed auto
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 3060mm
Length 5310mm
Width 1890mm
Height 1490mm
Weight 2245kg
 
Common problems
 
• Corrosion isn’t rare, but major rot is. Walk away from any car with significant corrosion; major repairs just aren’t worth it. Because of their hand-built nature, replacement body panels don’t just slot into place; everything has to be adjusted to fit.

• Start with the rear wheelarches, sills and inner wheelarches, which tend to be hugely expensive to repair. Other corrosion hot spots include the rear valance and rear suspension spring pans.

• Running problems can be caused by all sorts of faults, so ensure the engine idles happily hot or cold, with no pinking under acceleration. However, most faults are surprisingly cheap to fix if you shop around; even a faulty engine management system on a post-1994 car can be fixed inexpensively.

• The V8 is fundamentally strong, but anti-freeze levels must be maintained. Internal corrosion is unlikely, but engines can overheat through broken fan belts or leaking hoses. The pistons will knock on an engine that’s been allowed to overheat while oil leaks are par for the course, but only weeping. Used engines are readily available – at a price.

• Two different GM automatic transmissions were used in these cars. The pre-1992 three-speed unit is strong, but the later four-speeder is smoother and offers better fuel economy. Any jerking on the test drive means large bills are looming. Even if things appear fine, check that the fluid level in the gearbox is up to the mark, that it’s not black and that it doesn’t smell of rotten eggs, pointing to a transmission that’s overheated.

• Significant rumbling or clunking from the back axle or particularly noticeable whining mean a replacement diff is needed, although the units are very tough and it’s very rare to need to resort to replacements.

• All cars have power steering; check for leaks, but the pumps very rarely give any trouble. 

• Post-1990 cars got highly effective adaptive damping. Inoperative self-levelling may be seized activation rods at the back of the car; freeing these off will solve the problem, so it’s a cheap fix. However, it could be a faulty ECU or tired rear suspension spheres. If it’s the latter, it’ll feel as though the dampers have seized.

• The hydraulic brakes are effective but the handbrake usually isn’t – it needs regular adjustment. Ensure the brake pressure warning light extinguishes within 20 seconds; if it doesn’t, new spheres are needed. Every 96,000 miles or six years a costly hydraulic service is recommended, done by a specialist. Amateur meddling can lead to a wrecked system through the wrong fluid being put in.

• The later the car, the more gadgetry is fitted – and the more likely there are to be problems. Component prices vary from surprisingly cheap to hair-curlingly pricey, but it’s the labour involved in pinpointing a fault that can prove really costly. So check everything, paying close attention to the air conditioning and the cruise control.

• Cabins are swathed in Wilton, walnut and Connolly, so look for damage through neglect and/or age. Reviving a tired interior will cost thousands.
 
Model history
 
1980: The Mulsanne supersedes the T-series.
1982: The Mulsanne Turbo appears, in short or long-wheelbase forms.
1984: The Eight goes on sale; it’s a lower-spec, cheaper Mulsanne.
1985: The Turbo R arrives, quickly replacing the Mulsanne Turbo.
1987: All cars get fuel injection and anti-lock brakes.
1988: The Mulsanne becomes the Mulsanne S, with a Turbo R dashboard.
1989: The square headlamps are replaced by two round units on each side.
1990: All cars get electronically controlled suspension (adaptive damping).
1991: There’s now a new GM-sourced four-speed auto.
1992: The Brooklands replaces the Mulsanne S and Eight.
1994: The Turbo S goes on sale; 60 are made.
1995: The Turbo R gets a power hike to 385bhp.
1996: The Turbo R Sport arrives, with standard sat-nav and larger brakes.
1997: The short-wheelbase car dies, leaving the Turbo RL (long-wheelbase) as the standard model. The final derivative is also introduced, the Turbo RT, before the Arnage takes over.
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• www.bdcl.org
• www.rrec.org.uk
• www.rroc.org
 
Summary and prices
 
Simply put, these Bentleys represent a huge amount of car for relatively little money. On the flip side, this also means that spending a huge amount of money on restoration is generally not worth the bother, unless you intend on keeping the car for many years.

For an early Mulsanne or Mulsanne Turbo, you’ll need to spend in the region of £8000 for an average condition car, while £15,000-£20,000 will get you one of the very best. Projects are out there for much less, around £3000, but will inevitably cost you a lot more in the long run.

Turbo R models are more desirable, and these range from £10,000-£30,000 depending on condition. It can often take a while for nice cars to find a home, meaning motivated sellers will potentially offer big discounts. It can be worth buying privately, although it is of course the even more important to make the necessary checks if you are doing this. 
Bentley Turbo R Bentley Turbo R Bentley Turbo R Bentley Turbo R
Last updated: 21st Apr 2016
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Bentley Turbo R cars for sale

9 Search results
Bentley Turbo R
3500 29250 GBP
  • Bentley Turbo R Sports Saloon

    £17,350 £17,350

    This superb Bentley has only covered 32k miles with a full service history and has only two owners the first being Sheikh bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai.

    • Year: 1985
    For sale
    A1 Classic Cars

    07763 589 680 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Bentley Turbo R

    £15,990 £15,990

    Presented in handsome Royal Blue coachwork with twin trim lines in red, this perfectly contrasts with the lush blue-piped Magnolia leather trim which belies the genuine sub-55,000 miles travelled by this car. The cabin boasts flawless interior wood and chrome, a wealth of seemingly unused ashtrays, very capable sound system, and even a wired-behind-the-dash but removable sat nav system which will remain with the car. The electric seat functions work faultlessly, as do the electric windows, and the air conditioning system blows ice cold. This is effectively a one-owner car. It did spend a period from 2012 to 2015 in France with a French registration, but the DVLA were never notified of its export and subsequent return, so in effect, it still appears as a single owner car registered with its current registration number on the 6th April 1992. The V5C corroborates that there are no former keepers. This car has received continuous care and maintenance throughout its life with no fewer than 18 recognised services. Major works include expenditure of some £7,700 with Gordon Dale Enterprises in London from May 2015 on the cars’ return to the UK to make it the very best available. This included a thorough ‘C’ service, renew distributor drive belt, adjust front bearing and renew accumulator spheres, renew power steering and gearbox cooler hoses, brake pads, renew exchange unit, adjust lower ball joints, and remove both front suspension top arms to renew camber bushes and adjust both top ball joints; as well as many other miscellaneous small jobs. Since this time a further 3,000 miles have been travelled, so just prior to this car being offered for sale a further £4,500 has been invested with Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialists, D.E.W Services of Eynsham to prepare the car for sale and attend to fiddly jobs such as wiring in the sat nav, replacing the speakers, cleaning gear selector contacts, replacing tyres, balancing wheels, replacing bumper chrome strips, remove and replace steering rack, and supply and fit new fan belt amongst other jobs. All can be seen in detail in the comprehensive history file. This magnificent car is accompanied by its original leather wallet book pack which includes the original invoice for £110,259.78 and pre-delivery check card by Mann Egerton, Kings Cross, London; also included are handbooks, original service book, and a large accompanying file of invoices and receipts documenting regular maintenance. This timeless Bentley is now offered in a flawless colour combination from a fastidious owner and representing a serious boat-load of motor car at an unrepeatable value.

    • Year: 1992
    • Mileage: 53500 mi
    • Engine size: 6.8
    For sale
  • Bentley Turbo R

    £22,500 £22,500

    A stunning 22k miles Turbo R LWB! Probably the most genuine Bentley Turbo we have seen for many years. This prestige vehicle is in the most incredible original condition, which is extremely rare these days, and potentially unique in its class. This stunning Bentley Turbo benefits from clear evidence of a lack of wear and tear (see photographs). Any prospective purchaser will not be disappointed on viewing. The driving experience is utterly breathtaking. Everything is tight, smooth, and communicates confidence - an enthralling luxury driving machine. This wonderful Bentley Turbo R has just been serviced and required no extra work over the factory service specification. Presented in the famous Balmoral Green with Magnolia hide and green leather top roll, green wool carpets and over mats, 5 owners from new, full service history (largely by recognised main dealers and Bentley specialists), and with only 22,400 miles from new, this extraordinary vehicle is currently held in one of our our secure storage locations and is ready to be driven away today. -------------------------- This prestige vehicle sale is being managed by MARQUES Prestige Car Services. MARQUES Prestige Car Services presents a new standard in prestige and high performance car care, sales, and complimentary services. Our team possess a rare blend of automotive expertise, together with a professional and approachable style, and deep passion for Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Ferrari, and Porsche. Please contact us to arrange viewing of this car. We are available, with notice, seven days a week, and we look forward to hearing from you. To view our full pre-owned stock, please visit our website at www.marquesprestige.com

    • Year: 1991
    • Mileage: 22400 mi
    • Engine size: 6.8
    For sale
  • Bentley Turbo R

    £3,500 £3,500

    BENTLEY LWB TURBO R 1996 126000 MILEAGE FROM NEW 2 OWNERS FROM NEW FULL V5 1 KEY BENTLEY BOOKLETS SOME INVOICES FULL LEATHER INTERIOR AIR CON ELECTRICK SEATS CRUISE CONTROL CLIMAT CONTROL VERY GOOD TYRES ALL AROUND CLEAN INSIDE/OUTSIDE ETC ETC

    • Year: 1996
    • Mileage: 126000 mi
    • Engine size: 6.8
    For sale
    Nicholas Brown
  • BENTLEY TURBO R OTHERS 1986

    £20,995 £20,995

    1986 Bentley Turbo R Finished in Metallic Royal Blue with full Beige leather hide interior and Burr walnut trim. This stunning example of a Bentley has only covered 45000 miles from new where it was purchased from Jack Barclay Bentley in London. it has a full documented Bentley Main agent service history with folders full of paperwork and invoices. Service booklet has a total of 19 stamps from Bentley main Agent main agent followed by many service invoices and correspondence from Bentley Main dealer up to date from 1986 to 2016, The last service carried out was on 13/04/16 at 45166 at a cost of GBP 3000 with Bentley Cheltenham it was also M.O.T'D at Bentley at the same time with no advisories.This Beautiful Bentley has had around GBP 17,500 spent in the past 3 years.The M.O.T is next due 6th April 2017, Also presented with M.O.T'S going back to the early 90'. this Bentley Turbo R has buckets of class and really feels special as it carries you down the road in extreme comfort, Electric seats .Electric mirrors . Alpine CD player ( Original Radio present ).Twin changeable horns .Cruise control .electric windows .Full leather headlining with vanity lights and mirrors .Chrome mirrors. New Lambswool over mats and foot rests and new Avon tyres. you can forget the rest when it comes to luxury and power there is no other car that can compete with a classic Bentley especially a Turbo R. 2 sets of original keys and all Bentley folders and manuals

    • Mileage: 45000 mi
    • Engine size: 6.75
    For sale
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