"If walls could talk" is a common phrase used to describe historic places, as many were hosts to pivotal moments in history — and many others would simply tell a great story. In the case of my latest purchase, I wish cars could talk, as I’m sure this Bentley would have a lot to say. All it really does right now is cry for help, as I bought the cheapest Bentley Continental GT in the United States — and it has a lot of problems.
Mechanical problems are to be expected when you buy a car from a wholesale auction sight unseen — especially if the car is purchased well below market value. My 2004 example has only 45,000 original miles on it, and I snagged it for only $27,700. The average asking price for a 2004-2005 Continental GT on Autotrader is $48,000 — so why was a dealer willing to dump this car for such a cheap price?
It’s not because of the car’s cosmetic condition, which looks average for a 13-year-old luxury car. It also has a clean title and no negative marks on the Carfax report. My new Bentley looks to have never been in a serious accident or submerged in flood waters. The car runs and drives, it doesn’t have any major fluid leaks, and the finicky air suspension system seems to be working perfectly. You may be thinking at this point that I’ve finally gotten lucky with one of these blind purchases — but not so fast.
Turns out, my Continental GT has actually been intercontinental, and the engine sputters like it’s incontinent. The Carfax has a 10-year gap of no reported events. After being sold new in Houston, it remained in Texas for a few years before being exported to Finland. This Nordic European country shares its Eastern border with Russia, and I suspect the car made its way across the border. My main basis for this suspicion is that the selling dealer — who happened to have a heavy Russian accent — was purposely vague when I inquired about the car’s history.
Somehow, this Bentley made its way back to the United States, and it was sold by this dealer in South Florida out of an auction in Chicago. The car arrived to me in Kansas with a clean Florida title — and it was immediately obvious I was in for a major headache.
The most worrisome issue is the poorly running engine. It has a lumpy idle, and it completely falls on its face during acceleration. This twin-turbo 12-cylinder engine made the Bentley Continental famous for its 197-mile-per-hour top speed — and now it struggles to keep up with traffic. There’s also a small list of nonfunctioning electronics and, strangely, the car arrived with winter tires (from Florida, mind you).
A rough-running Bentley 12 is a common issue of this era. Plastic vacuum lines were used throughout the car, which become brittle and crack with age, — and they cause the engine to run poorly. Unfortunately, the ones that are broken on my car aren’t easily accessible, and the Bentley shop manual states the only course of action to reach these broken lines is to drop the engine, transmission and front subframe completely out of the car.
Just when my mechanic, the car wizard, had rid himself of one major project, I pour this hot mess on his plate. He seemed excited to take it on — but probably more excited to take a lot more of my money. Once again, I’m sure the entire internet is going to tell me that I’m a moron, and I will do my best again to prove everyone wrong — although even I’m not sure I can pull it off this time. Wish me luck! Find a used Bentley Continental for sale
Tyler Hoover went broke after 10 years in the car business and now sells hamburgers to support his fleet of needy cars. He lives in Wichita, Kansas.