The Bentley Turbo R is a high-performance automobile which was produced by Bentley Motors Limited from 1985 to 1999. The “R” stood for “roadholding”, to set it apart from its predecessor. It initially inherited the turbocharged engine from the Mulsanne Turbo and also sported a retuned suspension and wider tires on alloy wheels, a first for a Bentley. From the 1987 model year (20,000 series chassis numbers), however, the Turbo R’s V8 engine was retuned with fuel injection for added torque. Motor Trend called the Turbo R “the first Bentley in decades deserving of the famous name” in their review of the car on its introduction to the United States in 1989
The suspension changes, though seemingly subtle, transformed the soft and less than well-controlled ride of the Mulsanne Turbo into that of a real performer. Development on improving handling had already begun when Mike Dunn was appointed engineering director in Crewe in February 1983, but instead of the proposed 10% increase in roll stiffness, he demanded 50%. This goal was met by upping the anti-roll bar rates by 100% in front and 60% in the rear, and by increasing the damping. A Panhard rod to anchor the rear sub-frame was also introduced, reducing side-to-side movement in corners. Spring rates remained the same as on the Mulsanne.
Although official figures were never provided by Rolls-Royce, Motor Trend estimated power output at 221 kW (300 PS; 296 hp) with 660 N⋅m (486.8 lb⋅ft) of torque. Priced at US$195,000 in the US market, the Turbo R slotted above the Bentley Mulsanne S and Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit but $39,000 below the Rolls-Royce Silver Spur.
The Turbo R was sold alongside the Mulsanne Turbo for a brief moment, but the Mulsanne was taken out of production in 1985. In October 1986, for the 1987 model year, the Turbo R received anti-lock brakes and new Bosch MK-Motronic fuel injection to replace the Solex carburetors. Other modifications carried out at the same time included new, slimmer sports seats and a higher rear axle ratio. In mid-1988 (MY 1989) changes to the appearance were made, introducing twin round headlamps and a bigger front spoiler. Around the turn of the year between 1991 and 1992, GM’s 4L80-E four-speed automatic transmission replaced the long running three-speed Turbo Hydramatic 400 throughout the Bentley/Rolls-royce lineup, including the Turbo R
A “New” Turbo R model was introduced in 1995. Changes included Zytek fuel injection and appearance modifications. There was also a special version for the German market, the “Turbo R Sport”, which featured the Continental T’s sporty alloys and carbon-fibre rather than walnut panels inside
In 1995, the Bentley Turbo S was announced as a strictly limited model, with envisaged production as less than 100 units. Effectively a stop-gap model before the introduction of the Bentley Arnage, just 60 units were produced, distributed across selected European, Middle Eastern and Asian markets and customers only. The engine termed a Blackpool version used Bosch Motronic fuel injection and digital ignition derived from Formula 1 technology, and with a larger exhaust driven Garrett AirResearch turbocharger with intercooler, output 385 hp (287 kW). The same engine was fitted to 12 Bentley Continental S, and 3 to special build Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit S. The car was fitted with a viscous differential, and with both new 255/55WR17 tyres and traction control fitted, permitted a top speed of 155 miles per hour (249 km/h)
In 1996 production of the short wheelbase Turbo R ended, leaving only the model hitherto sold as the Turbo RL – now known simply as the Turbo R. For 1998, the Turbo R was replaced by the sportier yet Turbo RT
The Bentley Turbo RT was the last, rarest, most powerful and most expensive of the Turbo R line. The Bentley RT came with a 400 bhp (298 kW; 406 PS) 6.75 L V8 engine, as used in the Continental T , which is boosted by a single Garrett AirResearch T04 turbocharger and has a Zytek EMS3 engine management system, developed from Formula 1 racing technology, differing from earlier models with the ‘Motronic’ system. It is visually differentiated from other Bentley Turbo R models by its sport wheels, radiator mesh grille and colour-coded bumpers with bright mesh inserts. Performance was sufficient: with a top speed limited to 150 mph (240 km/h), the ultra-luxurious Turbo RT was as fast as the sporting German luxury saloons of the time. The car’s base price was US$ 211,600, or roughly US$65,000 more than the Turbo R.
The Turbo RT was produced during 1997 and 1998 only, with 252 units produced. It was essentially a “runout special”, an effort to sell off the last Mulsanne style bodies before the introduction of the Arnage. A few even rarer editions of the RT were made:
The Bentley Turbo RT Olympian: in 1998, London dealer Jack Barclay agreed to have a small number of cars built to incorporate many special features. These are probably the rarest version of the RT- although not officially recognised as such, therefore the RT Mulliner commands a much higher premium. These were sold as the Bentley Turbo RT Olympian. They can be identified by the five-spoke alloy wheels (borrowed from the ‘Mulliner’ version) and the “Olympian” boot badge. It is estimated that only four examples of this version were ever built
The Bentley Turbo RT Mulliner: The Mulliner version, available only by special order for the 1998 model year, was even more exclusive and expensive. It boasts a 420 bhp (313 kW; 426 PS) engine with a torque output of 634 lbft (861 Nm): this was achieved by developing a new compressor for the turbocharger, remapped engine management system, and modifications to the air intake system. Visually, Mulliners have more aerodynamic, rounded bumpers with prominent venting and often foglamps, as well as flared fenders to accommodate a wider track and larger 18-inch alloy wheels, sitting on low-profile 255/55 tires. Each car was built to individual specifications, with many sporting side and bonnet vents and also the smaller Mulliner rear windscreen. One popular feature in Mulliners is a prominent speedometer for the rear passengers.
Just 56 Mulliner editions were built, of which 17 are right-hand drive. Seven of the Mulliner editions built are to standard wheelbase specifications, and 49 are on the lengthened wheelbase.