The silent sports car. That’s how Dirk Van Braeckel, Bentley Motors head of design since 1999, defines the essence of the brand’s cars. Applied to the most recent Continental GT and Flying Spur, this definition has lost none of its meaning.
The brief assigned to designers in August 1999 did not concern just a single car but a range of models: a GT and a saloon. The team consisted of Van Braeckel, Raul Pires for the externals, and Robin Page for the interiors. The GT and Flying Spur projects were developed hand in hand right from the start. The Flying Spur would become the GT four-door; for image building reasons, the GT would be the first to appear as a production model.
To achieve the Bentley’s hallmark sporting elegance, Van Braeckel and his team made an enormous effort with no compromises requested or made. With its short front, much emphasis was placed on the rear wings and on three-dimensional elegance from all points of view. A fastback silhouette was selected for the GT, while the sporting aspect was stressed for the Flying Spur.
Inside, leather and wood were the essential materials, but to position the Bentley in a modern perspective, the traditional flat dashboard had to be revolutionised in the interests of forms that were more three-dimensional. “Nevertheless”, said Van Braeckel, “even though we were increasing production numbers, we did not want to forgo the feel of quality workmanship”. The dash is symmetrical, like the Bentley’s winged emblem, and the modularity of the seats enables occupants to select the configuration they wish. In their effort to capture the Bentley atmosphere, the interiors are completely upholstered in leather or wood.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 153