Bentley Mulsanne (1980 – 1992) – When it was first launched at the 1980 Birmingham Motor Show, Bentley Mulsanne was mostly expected to be simply a rebadged version of Rolls-Royse Silver Spirit and it indeed was. There were some alterations including sports seats, radiator inserts, and of course the badge. So instead of having a Flying Lady at the front of your car, you could display something a little bit more manly.
It did not, however, change the fact that the Mulsanne was a good car. It was a combination of luxury and performance in one package featuring 6.75L V8 along with automatic transmission; let us not forget that Bentley Mulsanne interior was filled with the usual leather interior, blemish-free walnuts, and wool headlining; it probably might as well used cashmere as curtain but that would be over-snobbishness. Bentley Mulsanne speed reached 120 miles an hour, which was not bad for a car that weighed more than 2000kg. The term Mulsanne was derived from the name of a straight line in 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit where cars can really make use of their highest speeds. It also commemorated Bentley’s victorious racing history in the event between 1924 and 1930.
Initially regarded simply as the twin-sister of Silver Spirit, Bentley Mulsanne came to its own characteristics after few years in production. One factor that helped to separate the breed was the release of its sportier version called the Bentley Mulsanne Turbo. This variant had appeared in 1982 Geneva Motor Show, but it reached the end production line only about three years later. As the name suggested, it was the turbocharged version of the same car. Even with the same engine, the Garrett AiResearch turbocharger was able to help generate at least 50% more horsepower than the standard variant.
Bentley Mulsanne Turbo eventually evolved into a model of its own simple called Bentley Turbo R. A major difference was the use of Bosch fuel injection instead of two SU carburetors. The engine remained the same but the car also offered either 3-speed or 4-speed automatic transmission.
For those who wanted the Turbo R but without the actual turbocharger, Bentley expanded the line into the production of Mulsanne S in 1987. Much of the details and interior were pretty much the same as the turbocharged one.
All variants of Bentley Mulsanne were produced in both short wheelbase and long wheelbase. In total 2,019 units were built, excluding the Turbo R, from 1980 – 1992.
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In 1984, Bentley also unveiled another version of Mulsanne under different name, the Eight. It was based on the Mulsanne and even equipped with the same engine displacement but without having the luxurious features. For examples, the upholstery was cloth instead of leather and the grille was a simple mesh rather than the intriguing slated design. As a result, the Eight was more affordable option.
Bentley Mulsanne price when it was new reached well over £50,000 (more than $300,000 of today’s money), but the Eight was available for £6,000 less. Over the years Bentley actually offered more luxurious version of the Eight as well. The Eight was arguably more popular than Mulsanne that the sales reached from UK to other parts of Europe and United States.