The world’s most elegant convertible
From Bentley’s very earliest days, open-top cars have been an intrinsic part of the company’s heritage. Over the decades that followed many revered convertible or ‘drophead’ models were created, both by notable Bentley coachbuilders such as Mulliner, Park Ward, and later ‘in-house’ at the company’s Crewe headquarters.
From the 1955 Continental Drophead Coupe, through the later Corniche and Continental eras, up to the magnificent Azure of 1995, an entire portfolio of unashamedly glamorous and wonderfully desirable cars meant that Bentley retained its reputation as the creator of the world’s most elegant convertibles.
Now that reputation has grown once more with the unveiling of the new Bentley Arnage Drophead Coupe show car at the 2005 Los Angeles Auto Show. It is a true four-seater convertible for the 21st century: a unique blend of classic Bentley design and craftsmanship married to a high-technology platform sourced from the 2005 Model Year Arnage. As such, it is the perfect natural successor to the Bentley Azure, whose eight-year lifespan cemented the marque’s status as the prime provider of four-seater convertibles to this sector of the market.
First and foremost, the design is unmistakeably Bentley - it shares the same front end as the current Arnage range and its platform ensures it seats four adults in complete comfort. But it is also unmistakeably unique. The entire cabin and rear section of the car are newly designed, with a stunning new interior that has been influenced by contemporary furniture design; the objective being to create an opulent and inviting seating area that reflects its status as a car that is at home in Palm Springs or the Riviera.
The Arnage Drophead Coupe show car is more than just a conceptual design study, however. Its unveiling in Los Angeles represents the culmination of a truly innovative development programme that means the car is entirely production viable, as Bentley’s chairman Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen explains:
"The 2005 Arnage range has been extensively re-engineered at significant cost and is a very modern, high-technology saloon. It is natural, therefore, that we would use this base to further our reputation as the pre-eminent builder of large, luxury convertibles in the world.
"We had such amazing success with the Bentley Azure, which has developed a cult following although production stopped in 2003. There’s no reason why this new Arnage derivative couldn’t fill the gap left by the Azure. If customer demand is there, it could go into production within a very short space of time - as early as Spring 2006."Published 5 January 2005