Bentley unveiled their latest showcar at the 1999 Geneva Auto Show, the
Bentley Hunaudières, a real low slung sportscar.
This prototype car was based on a Lamborghini Diablo VT chassis,
later Bentley would develop a special chassis to cope with the 600 Bhp W-16 engine
they plan to use in the production car.
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The Bentley Hunaudières was named after the straight on the
famous Le Mans circuit in France, just like the Mulsanne and Arnage are also names
found on this circuit, where Bentley became almost legendary racing there during
This exclusive concept car was created to show the audience the way Bentley would like
to go after the VW take-over, Bentley plans to build high-power cars but with a
high level of finish and practicality on the road.
The Hunaudières could very well be used to compete in the 24 H. of Le Mans in the
beginning of the next century, a press release stated that if the public opinion
allowed it, the Bentley Hunaudières would enter production during 2001.
The engine in this English supercar is a W-16 engine, developed by VW, who actually combined two
V-8 engines together at an angle of 72 degrees, a displacement of 8 litres and a total of 64 valves
produced 623 Bhp at 6000 Rpm on all four-wheels. Each V-8 engine held two banks of 4 cylinders
at 15 degrees, this way the massive engine was still quite compact considering the
power output and a torque of 561 Lbs.Ft at only 4000 Rpm.
When the car would eventually be available, you could surely count on an estimated price of
over £ 250,000. But for this amount you would take ownership of a real high-performance street legal
supercar with all the refinement and comfort of your 'every day' Bentley Arnage.
The roofline of the Hunaudières was about 85 mm higher than that of the 1999 Diablo, therefore
headroom and interior space was a little better, together with improved accessability and visibility, the
Hunaudières could become quite a competitor for the new Lamborghini Murcielago that would be introduced
as late as September 2001.
On the inside the Hunaudières was finished in the purest Bentley tradition, full leather and nubuck
for the seats and dashboard, and a very nice touch of milled aluminum on the dashboard and central console.
On this central console a panel covered the stereo and airconditioning controls, neatly hidden
from the eye, but who in his right mind would try to steal the stereo in a Bentley anyway, the
alarm system fitted was probably better than most house alarms. Another nice touch were the two
rear view camera's fitted behind the front wheels, the monitors were placed on the left and
right of the speedometer and rev counter. This way no big rear view mirrors were necessary that would only
destroy this very clean design, still, these monitors would take some getting used to once you're behind the steering wheel.
Although with an estimted acceleration of only 4 seconds to 60 Mph and only 12 seconds to reach 100 Mph,
who cares what happens behind you, you would need to focus yourself on the road ahead, things can
get very close extremely fast at these kinds of speed.
The last thing you want to happen is getting a dent in this very clean looking aluminium and carbon fibre
bodywork, just try telling dad you've crashed his Bentley into a slow moving truck.
The prototype was finished in a very nice metallic English racing green, with a green and tan leather interior
and chromed lower body panels, also the 20 inch (!!) wheels became chromed. This way the Bentley
looked really stunning under the Auto Show highlights.
The Hunaudières would be fitted with a five-speed automatic gearbox, possibly with a button-shift
option on the steering wheel, according to Bentley, customers are awaiting an exotic
sportscar without the hassle of changing gears, this new Bentley should be extremely fast, a top speed
of over 200 Mph was stated, but still it would be highly comfortable and easy to drive.
All the advantages of a mid-engined car but without the drawbacks of the currently available
supercars, although I can't see any drawbacks in driving a Diablo but than again who am I to
dispute the Bentley statement.
When the Geneva Auto Show was over, the Hunaudières returned to Crewe and work began on the
chassis, the Bentley engineers would built a full performance prototype and test this one
thoroughly before taking the decision of making a production car from this magnificent
showcar. According to Tony Gott, acting Chief Executive at Bentley in 1999, the market should
be large enough to built about 300 Hunaudières a year, and be able to sell them too, so start
saving your money, and buy ...
the Lamborghini Murcielago, this way you still have a real Lamborghini, a true exoticar from
Italy, the place where exclusive mid-engined supercars are built.
Bentley Hunaudières specifications :
Wheelbase : 2650 mm
Length : 4430 mm
Width : 1980 mm
Height : 1190 mm
Track front : 1738 mm
Track rear : 1645 mm
Tires front : 265/30 ZR 20
Tires rear : 335/30 ZR 20
Engine type : DOHC W-16 mid mounted, four wheel drive
Displacement : 8004 cc
Max. power : 630 Bhp at 6000 rpm
Max. Torque : 561 Lbs Ft. at 4000 rpm
Top speed : electronically limited at 350 Km/h.
Price : about £ 250,000.00