The history of a car -
the Bentley Continental GT3

The history of a car - the Bentley Continental GT3 01

Will the formidable Bentley Continental GT3, the only British contender, succeed in asserting its exclusive lineage amongst the other cars in the Pirelli-tyred FIA GT3 category?

Despite its imposing size the Continental GT3 appears to be even more competitive and driver-friendly than its predecessor, which you may recall won the Blancpain Endurance Cup in 2017 with Bentley Team M-Sport: a car that has, to date, snapped up more than 120 podium finishes and nearly 50 outright victories.

Thanks to additional fine-tuning of the previous model, this year the beast from Crewe - the British marque's historic home - has benefited on the racetrack from a major upgrade to the cooling system, now positioned right behind the large and distinctive front grille. 

Still under the bonnet is the 4.0 V8 biturbo engine which, even with the air restrictor imposed by the organisers to balance the performance of the competing cars, delivers power in the region of 600 horsepower. The exact figure is impossible to find out. It is rumoured that, with the appropriate adjustments and in the absence of restrictions, this engine could almost touch 1000 horsepower.

The car weighs less than 1300 kg, roughly one ton less than the comfortable road version. The air shock absorbers and sumptuous interiors have been eliminated to make room for an abundance of carbon fibre and ultra-light composite materials: necessary steps to make the Continental GT3 as frugal as possible on its Pirelli Corsa tyres and also more agile around the most packed and winding circuits.

The history of a car - the Bentley Continental GT3 02

The vehicle has a Ricardo six-speed sequential gearbox and an Alcon braking system featuring calipers with six pistons at the front and four pistons at the rear. The chassis set-up includes double wishbone suspension with adjustable shock absorbers and electro-assisted power steering. In-line with regulations, the 18-inch BBS wheels with a 13” channel accommodate P Zero DHD2 tyres for dry conditions and Cinturato WH tyres for wet tarmac.

Historically speaking the origins of the Continental can be traced back to 1938, the year in which Georges Paulin designed a special aerodynamic body to be fitted onto a Bentley chassis. Development of the grand tourer began in 1951, in collaboration with the coach-building firm H. J. Mulliner & Co. In 1952 the fully-fledged Continental went into production: sold at the eye-raising sum of 7,600 pounds sterling it was the world's most expensive car. It knew no rivals. Its bodywork was described as a perfect combination of rigidity and lightness, with an engine that was “remarkably velvety”. The first Continental GT saw the light of day in 2003. It was the first Bentley launched following the acquisition of the marque by the Volkswagen group: this changeover had taken place in 1998, ending nearly seventy years of interference from the Rolls-Royce brand. The car underwent two major generational upgrades: the first in 2011 and the most recent in 2018. The third-generation Continental GT is the one that, with the appropriate modifications, we see competing on the racetrack this year. The road version, now available with both a V8 engine and with a fabulous 635-horsepower W12, is one of the quickest four-seaters currently on the market.

And this year the Crewe factory is celebrating its centenary. An important milestone, the road to which has been paved by some famous sporting victories - many in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans - and by a manufacturing tradition that fuses timeless luxury, performance and craftsmanship. All that remains is to see what the standard-bearers of Bentley Team M-Sport can achieve - every triumph of the GT3, this year, will be enjoyed more than ever.

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