In 1994 Rolls Royce Motors (who at that time owned the Bentley brand) previewed a convertible concept car at the Geneva Motor Show – the Concept Java. The car was designed to be a highly desirable Bentley, but smaller, more affordable, yet still exclusive in order to maintain the integrity of the brand. It was to appeal to a new range of potential buyers and generate increase sales volume for Rolls Royce (at the time the current Bentley Continental R was an ultra-exclusive £180,000 in the UK, within reach of a very select market, selling only 2-300 units a year). The Concept Java never made it into production in the form seen in 1994 (although 13 cars were made for the Sultan of Brunei).
The Bentley Continental GT realised the concept of the Java as a more affordable Bentley, manufactured in much larger volumes. Whilst external styling is different, the dashboard design was clearly influenced by the Java. The grand tourer produced since 2003 was the first car released by Bentley under Volkswagen AG management after the company’s acquisition in 1998 and the first ever Bentley to employ mass production manufacturing techniques.
In 2010, the Bentley Continental GT saw its first significant redesign since its launch in 2003. Ushering in a suite of new models, this reinvention of the quintessential modern Bentley took the Continental’s peerless craftsmanship, exquisite style and near-limitless power – and pushed it to an entirely new level. It introduced new technology, greater efficiency, state-of-the-art materials, a sleek new silhouette and a sportier feel.
An evolution of the range followed in 2015, with styling changes to the fenders, bumpers, With the introduction of new models based on a leaner V8 powertrain, the Continental GT soon made its debut in elite GT3 racing. Bentley’s motorsport team refined their car for the racetrack, making technological advances that soon found their way back into the road-going cars.