2003 Bentley Azure 'Final Series Performance' Convertible  Chassis no. SCBZK26E43CH01228

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Lot 342
2003 Bentley Azure 'Final Series Performance' Convertible

£ 110,000 - 130,000
US$ 150,000 - 180,000
2003 Bentley Azure 'Final Series Performance' Convertible
Registration no. HX03 SEY
Chassis no. SCBZK26E43CH01228
*The last right-hand drive Bentley Azure delivered
*One of only 62 'Final Series Performance' models
*Unique specification
*Outstanding condition

Footnotes

  • In its early days, Bentley's resurgence had relied on models whose basic architecture was shared with other Rolls-Royce products, but on display at Geneva in 1985 was 'Project 90', a mocked-up coupé intended to gauge public response to the idea of a high-performance car unique to Bentley. When the real thing - the Bentley Continental R - was unveiled six years later, the waiting crowd burst into spontaneous applause. Styled with the assistance of consultants International Automotive Design, the Continental R benefited from computer-aided design and wind tunnel testing in the devising of its sleekly streamlined shape. Despite the need to incorporate non-traditional features such as doors recessed into the roof, the result looked every bit a Bentley, albeit one re-stated for the 1990s. Also new was the gearbox, a four-speed automatic with an 'overdrive' top ratio, but the main focus of interest was the newcomer's performance. Needless to say this was staggering, the combination of the Turbo R engine in the new wind-cheating shape cutting the 0-60mph time to under six seconds and boosting top speed to more than 150mph.

    The Corniche convertible had been a major success for Rolls-Royce so it can have surprised few onlookers when a soft-top version of the Bentley Continental R was announced, albeit a full four years after the Coupé's introduction. Once again, Geneva was chosen to launch what would turn out to be the first Bentley model in several decades to use an entirely new name - 'Azure' - which, like 'Corniche' and 'Camargue', evoked exotic destinations in the South of France. The famous Italian styling house of Pininfarina – a firm with unrivalled experience in the design of soft-top Gran Turismos – had been chosen to develop the Azure on the four-seater Continental R platform, and there was no questioning that the result was most successful. Bodyshells were assembled in Italy by Pininfarina, fitted with the automatic soft-top, painted and shipped back for finishing at Crewe. Mechanically similar to the Continental R, but with an engine further up-rated to 385bhp, the Azure was launched in 1995 and cost £215,000 in the UK. Hailed by its maker as, 'the world's best convertible', the Azure lived up to that grand title, proving an immense success especially in North America where its combination of unmatched luxury, effortless performance and soft-top style was found highly attractive. When production ceased in 2003 a total of only 1,321 Azures of all types had been built.

    One of the rarest of Azure developments was the 'Final Series Performance' version, only 62 examples of which were completed towards the end of production during 2002/2003. The 'FSP' was based on the Bentley Azure Mulliner, which came with an engine up-rated to produce 420bhp, suitably stiffened suspension, and various other improvements. This example is the last right-hand drive Bentley Azure made available for sale, as confirmed by Bentley Motors' 'Letter of Authenticity' on file (the factory retained the last car off the production line). The Azure also comes with a detailed 'Full Vehicle Specification', which shows that it was retailed via Harwoods of Sussex, while the accompanying V5C document shows that it has had only three keepers from new.

    Finished in special-order Crystal Silver with Nautic Blue leather interior, this Azure comes with all the usual features one would expect of a top-of-the-range Bentley, plus a number of special non-standard items fitted prior to delivery. These include: audible reversing aid; power folding door mirrors; Bentley 'jewel' filler cap; embroidered marque emblems to the headrests; carpet over-mat to the luggage compartment; unstained burr walnut trim; and automatic door locking when the gear lever is moved out of 'Park'. This unique car also has a special commemorative plaque situated on the centre console by the gear lever, which reads: 'Chassis no. CH01228 – the last RHD Bentley Azure ever to be delivered – Bentley Motors Ltd, Crewe, England, June 2003'. MoT'd to April 2017 and offered fresh from a major service carried out by Bentley Leicester, this unique and historic Azure is worthy of the closest inspection.
Contacts
2003 Bentley Azure 'Final Series Performance' Convertible  Chassis no. SCBZK26E43CH01228
2003 Bentley Azure 'Final Series Performance' Convertible  Chassis no. SCBZK26E43CH01228
2003 Bentley Azure 'Final Series Performance' Convertible  Chassis no. SCBZK26E43CH01228
2003 Bentley Azure 'Final Series Performance' Convertible  Chassis no. SCBZK26E43CH01228
2003 Bentley Azure 'Final Series Performance' Convertible  Chassis no. SCBZK26E43CH01228
2003 Bentley Azure 'Final Series Performance' Convertible  Chassis no. SCBZK26E43CH01228
2003 Bentley Azure 'Final Series Performance' Convertible  Chassis no. SCBZK26E43CH01228
2003 Bentley Azure 'Final Series Performance' Convertible  Chassis no. SCBZK26E43CH01228
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