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HomeAutomobileLuxurious Meets Lowbrow When You Misbehave in a Bentley W-12

Luxurious Meets Lowbrow When You Misbehave in a Bentley W-12


Slipping by the dappled shade of a thin, twisty mountain highway, I attempted to explain the construction of a W-12 engine to my passengers. “It is like a V-12, however crinkled up,” I tried after the technically correct however visually unhelpful, “It is like two VW VR6 engines joined collectively.” Lastly, I went with: “Think about placing two free six-packs of soda away within the fridge. For those who line them up straight, they do not match on the shelf, however when you stagger them barely, you may squeeze all of them in.”

I think about most Bentley passengers do not care that a lot concerning the building of the W-12, solely that its easy efficiency and elite popularity carry them unruffled to their vacation spot, however Robert and Suzanne Williams aren’t your common back-seat luxurious riders. Each of their 80s, they continue to be as curious and technically minded as after they first met in artwork faculty again within the Nineteen Sixties. Which implies they quizzed me mercilessly on the specs of the Bentley Flying Spur Velocity on the way in which up the mountain.

bob and suzanne williams stand by a green bentley flying spur speed

Elana Scherr|Automobile and Driver

After stumbling by the reason for the 6.0-liter W-12 with its twin overhead cams, 626 horses, and 664 pound-feet of torque, consideration turned to the varied options and controls within the spacious again seat. Suzanne was delighted by the cut up local weather controls—she’s all the time too sizzling, he is all the time too chilly—and Bob loved creating thriller by elevating the facet window privateness screens and reclining his seat to its full extension. Each had been blissful to find the little secret compartment behind the middle console, which I had crammed with snacks, however they had been disillusioned that it wasn’t air-conditioned like in a Rolls-Royce.

Not that both has spent that a lot time in a contemporary Rolls. The Williamses are profitable artists who, at this level of their lives, might most likely have the luxurious automobile of their selection, however they began as rebels and preserve a sure punk-rock aesthetic to this present day, which is strictly why I assumed they could take pleasure in a day at the back of the Flying Spur. Introducing some well-known Ws to one another, so to talk.

Comedian-book followers might acknowledge Bob’s identify from the scandalous Weapons N’ Roses “Urge for food for Destruction” cowl, or his work within the ’70s with Zap Comix—which additionally printed R. Crumb. Earlier than that, each Bob and Suzanne labored for Ed “Massive Daddy” Roth, drawing monsters in muscle vehicles and laying out catalogs and magazines for custom-car fanatics. Artwork and vehicles have vied for prime place of their lives as their underground scene of rat rods and cartoons grew to become mainstream within the intellectual world of high quality artwork. Within the ’90s the Williamses based Juxtapoz journal, which started as a pushback towards the artwork publications that usually ignored any work that did not match inside the strict strains of the newest collector traits.

los angeles, ca february 18, 2015 robert williams, the pop surrealist painter, and founder of juxtapoz magazine, is photographed in front of his painting, hollywood after midnight, part of his show at the la municipal art gallery in hollywood photo by katie falkenberglos angeles times via getty images

Bob Williams in entrance of ’hollywood after midnight.’

Katie Falkenberg|Automobile and Driver

Leaving the W-12 Behind

The W-12 is on a little bit of a farewell tour. Bentley introduced the top of 12-cylinder manufacturing in February 2023, and the final multipot motor is ready to roll off the road in April 2024. Bentley launched the W-12 within the 2003 Continental GT, and whereas the facility and torque have gone up and the emissions have gone down over the previous 20 years, there’s simply no place in Bentley’s electrified plans for a hand-built 12-banger past 2024.

The W-12 manufacturing line within the Bentley headquarters in Crewe, England, might be transitioned over to the V-8 and hybrid V-6, as will the 30 engine builders who presently work on the W-12. It is the top of a particular powerplant, and Bentley is celebrating it with the Velocity Version 12 trim, obtainable as a restricted version of every of its 4 Velocity fashions. The Velocity Version vehicles will characteristic distinctive “12” badging, embroidery on the seats, slightly “12” etched within the local weather management pulls, and the engine firing order on the sprint veneer. Simply in case you determine to do a fast timing test whereas out on the highway.

bentley flying spur speed

ANDREW TRAHAN PHOTOGRAPHY LLC|Automobile and Driver

Whereas I have never had an opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Velocity Version 12 but—though I did get to poke at a Bentayga instance on show within the signature Opalite Pearl—Bentley did supply a run-through of every of the present W-12 fashions. The tour route ran from Venice, California, to the Griffith Observatory to Malibu, and when you’re considering that is an terrible lot of sitting in site visitors, you are proper. But when it’s important to be caught on an L.A. freeway, finest to do it in a Bentley.

From the convertible to the SUV, the W-12 actually is a easy operator, with loads of grunt to steal a uncommon open lane and pampering, cooled, and massaging seats for while you’re simply sitting there. On the few stretches of open highway, I discovered that, whereas the Continental has all the time been a favourite of mine, I used to be having fun with the Flying Spur much more. One thing about how the rear steer makes it nook like a smaller automobile, however its huge footprint intimidates everybody else out of your approach. If you are going to spend $322,595 on a automobile, that is the type of expertise it is best to anticipate. One of the best moments had been in tunnels, when the usually quiet mill performs a timpani solo of bass beats.

Christophe Georges, president and CEO of Bentley Motors Americas, admitted there is a problem forward of the corporate to forge the identical connections with their electrical vehicles that they’ve with the rumbling huge gasoline engines. “There’s an emotional reference to the engine, the gears. We want to verify we provide that with an EV when the time comes. There is a motive we did not rush to be first to market.” He says he is certain the connection might be made, however he understands that individuals will miss the belly-deep thrill of the W-12.

bentley flying spur speed

ANDREW TRAHAN PHOTOGRAPHY LLC|Automobile and Driver

The Desert Route

Which leads me again to selecting up Bob and Suzanne. I wished extra time within the Flying Spur Velocity, and so they wished a trip as much as Lake Arrowhead. We took the desert route, the Spur coolly consuming up miles whereas the pavement baked outdoors in 104-degree warmth. Up within the hills, the large automobile tiptoed across the forested corners, sometimes tricked by the world’s off-camber tilts into giving a downshifting cough, however by no means with sufficient power to disrupt the dialog.

The neighborhoods across the lake aren’t for the weak-hearted parker, with roads barely wider than the Flying Spur, however we slid by with out a scratch, and the Williamses declared the automobile most pleasant. It solely actually received them over, although, on the way in which residence. “Oh, it is advisable to recover from right here,” Suzanne instructed, proper as a Porsche Cayenne pulled up subsequent to us on the mild. When it turned, I put the pedal down, and we surged forward within the roar of a dozen cylinders. We made our flip, and some blocks later, the Porsche handed us in a sulk after which pulled right into a driveway just a few doorways down from Bob and Suzanne. I apologized for racing their neighbor, however they had been delighted to have proven him who was boss on their road. You possibly can take the drag-racing rebels out in a Bentley, however you may’t take the drag-racing insurgent out of a Bentley. Anyhow, the W in W-12 clearly stands for “Win.”

If you would like to refresh your artwork faculty information and be taught extra about Robert Williams, watch the documentary “Robert Williams Mr Bitchin'” about his life and work.

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