Thursday, June 12, 2014
Back in 1996, a wealthy client (reportedly the Sultan of Brunei) approached Bentley with a request for a higher performance Continental-style coupe. A number of cars were built as a result, though descriptions of them are rare and sketchy. With the subsequent sale of the company and turnover of staff, we may never know all the details.
In any case the cars had custom bodies, hot-rodded engines, stiffer suspensions, and bigger brakes. Rolls Royce motors was reportedly paid several million dollars per car for these one-off vehicles. Their brakes are the subject of today’s post.
Rolls Royce and Bentley brakes have always had a reputation for being adequate to the job. When Bentley came out with the Turbo R they beefed up the brakes to keep up with that car’s greater potential for speed. With big vented rotors and double calipers in front there was always a lot of brake to haul these cars down from speed.
But that wasn’t enough for this client. He wanted more. And Bentley delivered. They went to racing brake supplier Alcon, who modified their large four-piston race calipers to work with hydraulic oil instead of brake fluid. That called for different seals. They engraved the Bentley name in the caliper faces, and finished them in red, black, and silver. There's no record of which cars got which colors.
At this time, Bentley is down to odd calipers in their parts stock. If you wanted to do this to your Turbo you'd probably have to get calipers in three colors to make a set, and refinish them. But the cost would give anyone but a Sultan pause . .
Front calipers - $3,400 each (4 used)
Rear calipers - $4,400 each (2 used)
Rotors - $2,500 each
Hub adapters - $2,000 each
Brake pad kit - 4 wheel - $3,500
The brake upgrade was said to be a $35,000 upgrade from the stock Continental T system, which was itself quite a step up from what we saw on the first Turbo cars.
Interestingly the Azure photos I have seen online all show the paint burnt off the calipers. I’ve no idea what that means. Were are the cars run hard, was the paint defective, or do they get hotter than expected in normal use? Does the mineral oil transfer heat better than brake fluid? Also, all the photos I've seen show red calipers. Where did the black and silver ones end up?
Bentley bought enough of parts that at least fifty-some sets were left over, and these were used on the Final Series Azure. One of those cars came into our shop and I’ve got some photos to share, for those of you who dream of racing brakes for your Rolls or Bentley.
One of our jobs is to refinish the calipers to their original look. Stand by for a report in a few years as to how this job holds up. The brakes you see have just 9,000 miles running on them.
The front and rear rotors on this car are the same size - the largest I have ever seen on this series of car. The rotors are 40% thicker than the stock Turbo R units, and the pads have 50% more surface area.
Most owners of Crewe-built Rolls Royce and Bentley cars will never see brakes like these on one of our vehicles. Maybe on a Ferrari or a Porsche, but not a Crewe car. This is a rare sight for sure.
John Elder Robison is the general manager of J E Robison Service, independent restoration and service for Bentley, Rolls Royce, Land Rover, and other fine motorcars in Springfield, MA Find him online at www.robisonservice.com or on the phone at 413-785-1665