My ‘journey’ with a Turbo R by Roland Sharman
I have owned many Bentleys before moving to Australia from “Chinese eye” convertibles in my twenties through to an Azure which I sold prior to leaving California for Adelaide in 1999. I had thought to purchase a replacement when I arrived here but at 5 times the price I did not. Instead I settled into a boring period of motoring until in 2006 when I purchased a nice Bentley Eight.
With three years of pleasant and enjoyable daily use I had truly got back into the habit so started to look for something a bit better. In July of 2009 I found a 1989 model Turbo R advertised on EBay in the UK. Several things struck me, one being the very unusual, and attractive colour, the other was that the vendor did not mention it was a Turbo R nor did he seem to appreciate the value.
With a very cooperative seller who not only answered 120 questions but also had the car on a hoist and sent me the 22 specific photos I requested. All was good and a price of £9,000 was agreed upon.
And here begins the journey, a journey that would not have been possible without Flying Spares and the excellent work by Sam at Payneham Motors in Adelaide.
On that date 70,802 miles (113944 km) at time of writing it is now 117,904 miles (189,749 km) and a lot has happened between.
The car I received was exactly as described, in very good condition both cosmetically and mechanically. By anyone’s standards virtually rust free and it came with full service records with a major C service having been done shortly before it was sold.
On Wednesday, 18 November 2009 my Wedgwood Blue Turbo R was sitting in my driveway, behind the EIGHT, at a total cost of $28,272.09 AUD!
At this point I should mention that I am a bit OCD about my cars. This starts with all items fundamental to safety such as tyres, brakes, suspension and drivetrain, so in the first week it had all these checked and all were OK.
I have had bad experiences of transmission failure in remote places so I immediately had the transmission completely rebuilt by Jason of TranSteer, Jason’s background as a builder of race winning transmissions means that the car now has a ‘bulletproof’ gearbox.
Over the ensuing years much has been done to the car to make it a reliable daily driver with technological, performance and cosmetic enhancements.
Contemporary technology that was not available at the time the car was built. All such additions were without modifying any part of the vehicle to accommodate them. Additions are rain sensor to control wipers, light sensor to control lights, HUD (Heads Up Display) for speedo and Hella LED always on driving lights mounted below the front bumper. A new entertainment centre with fold out screen, reversing camera, Bluetooth, hands free etc. was installed to replace the original Blaupunkt radio/cd player.
1. The first change was to remove the dual pipe multi muffler system and replace it with a new, custom built, all stainless exhaust. The factory exhaust goes from a single 3½ inch manifold into a dual 1½ inch system with multiple silencers. The new custom built exhaust is crafted from 3½ inch stainless steel pipe with two inline stainless steel catalytic convertors terminating with a single Dynamax muffler which becomes a straight through under exhaust pressure. The harder you go the less restriction there is.
2. Addition of Residual Boost Kit. Normal turbo operation is at 6 PSI. The addition of the Residual Boost Kit, which is linked to the kick-down, provides very quick turbo boost at 9 PSI for one second, 8 PSI for one second, 7 PSI for one second and then it resolves to the standard 6PSI.
3. The modified transmission.
The combination of these three performance tweaks has resulted in a substantial increase in power which is very evident if comparing this to an unmodified Turbo R. We have also recorded sub six second zero to one hundred times.
1. The most major item was a complete bare metal repaint in March 2016. Now, minor rust issues, of which there were very few, were addressed by completely cutting out the area around the rust and welding in a new section of steel. This then blended into the panel with lead.
2. There was quite a lot of rot on the right lower corner of the rear screen, the area was cut out and new steel fabricated to fit. Again, this was lead filled for a fine fit and finish.
3. A new windscreen and a new rear screen were fitted with new rubbers. New rubber gaskets for the mirrors and new rubber mouldings on the doors and around the side windows. Inside the rear doors the window support levers were rotted to nothing and were replaced.
4. At the front of the car the vertical slat grille was replaced with a laser cut stainless steel honeycomb grille. A ‘flying B’ was added to the radiator surround. The headlights were replaced with flat crystal lens tribar lights and the headlamp surround was colour matched to the car.
5. Although the interior of the car was in exceptionally good condition I took the opportunity to acquire all the seats and centre console from a 1997 Brooklands which were a total colour match. The Brooklands had very low mileage so the seats were like new. The new seats supply lumber and lower back adjustable air cushions and heating. The console substitutes the individual armrests for a better shared centre armrest and lots of storage.
6. I was very lucky to be able to purchase a rare factory original wood rimmed steering wheel.
7. The lamb’s wool over rugs are replaced as needed and always in very good condition.
8. The wheels are 5 spoke 17 inch alloys which were polished then copper plated prior to being chrome plated.
The only major moving part not replaced is the differential. At 115,201 miles, the engine was replaced with a Bentley factory rebuild. While replacing the engine all mountings and sub frame mounts were replaced.
The total count of parts replaced is 286, of which 95% was supplied by Flying Spares, at a cost of $41,739 excluding labour. Starting from the front of the car the main items are Radiator, Water pump, Compressor, Alternator, all belts, steering rack, brake accumulators, brake pads, brake rotors, brake callipers, front outer wheel bushes, shock absorbers, ball joints, compliant mounts, lower triangle lever bush, track rods, exhaust system, anti-roll bar, all bushings all things metalastic, fuel pump, fuel pump filter, rear brake pads, rear brake rotors, rear brake callipers, Rear gas spring and seal, Gator Lobro shaft in and out and a new battery.
I own a vehicle that provides me with infinite pleasure. It is very pleasing on the eye and much admired by strangers. It is safe and reliable. It is very fast when I want, it rumbles discretely when masquerading as a boulevard cruiser and grumbles and roars when pushed. It is very comfortable in a manner not achieved in new cars it has an aroma of fine leather. If I have a back ache and drive for an hour or so the seats are so good that the back ache will have gone. Regarding the seats, I met with a Bentley employee this year who described how back in the late eighties he made each seat individually from the ground up the same way as you would make a luxury sofa. After a lot of time and money my result is a Bentley Turbo R that is close to a new car (dare I say it might be quicker than when new). I drive the car every day and every time it gives me pleasure, not a car that one gets bored with.
Is this the best 1989 Turbo R in the world? I hope so.