This car is worth more than I paid for my two-bedroom apartment. I’m only glad I didn’t know that until after I had spent three days driving it around northern New South Wales.
When the good folk at Bentley Motors called to ask if I’d like to take a Bentley convertible out for a few days and write about it, I didn’t have to think twice. And then I hoped with everything in me that it didn’t rain.
I’d never driven a convertible before, much less a Bentley. I’m not a car fanatic and although I appreciate a good, reliable, comfortable car I’ve always seen them as something necessary to get me from A to B. But I do love a road trip…so immediately started planning a route that was not too far from home, able to be organised in a few days but with scenery befitting the beautiful lines of the Bentley GTC V8.
On my wish list of places to go within a good driving distance was the newly opened Margaret Olley Centre at the Tweed Regional Art Gallery. It seemed a good fit to write a story based on this, with a look at some of the other arty villages around the Tweed Valley (more blog posts on this to come). After all, this car is a work of art in itself, as I’m to discover.
But there are other practicalities to attend to before picking up the car. For a start, I envisage myself wearing one of those flowing scarves (“Just don’t do an Isadora Duncan, will you?” says a friend). With the top down, I think it’s just the look I’m after. Sadly the reality is that the scarf makes me look less Grace Kelly, more a potato farmer’s wife. Oh well.
I drive my little hatchback to Bentley Brisbane and am soon in the driver’s seat of a 2014 Bentley GTC V8 – with the top down. After some instruction on how to use the keyless technology, and how to put the top up and down (it takes just the press of a button and 25 seconds), I’m all set for the road. But not without signing some paperwork, in which I agree (among other things) to never leave it on a public street overnight. It also informs me the car is fitted with a tracking device (at first I think this is in case of theft, but later wonder if it’s to ensure I bring it back).
Before setting out, I take a shot of the steering wheel and post it on Facebook. I’m completely unprepared for the following and response I’ll get over the next few days – particularly from my male friends. When I dare to post an image of sunrise over beautiful Kingscliff beach, my friend Kevin comments: “Sunrise pppffffttt….show me the Bentley again!”
And soon I see why. Within a couple of kilometres, I’m hooked on this luxury car. The leather seats are, as my passenger later says, “like comfortable armchairs”. If it’s cold, there’s a little heating vent at the back of your neck to keep you cosy, as well as heating in the bottom of the seats. We don’t need it; the sky is blue, the wind light.
But it’s the sound of the engine that really gets me. To me, it’s a purr…that deepens to a low throaty growl when I accelerate. I enjoy stopping, just so I can hear that when we take off again…
Another friend, who’s more used to road-testing cars than I am, tells me: “It’s like the first time you fly first class; it’s very hard to go back. Your (own car) might be a bit harder to love from here on in.” And I suspect she’s right.
I sail down the freeway with the top down. At the Gold Coast, I pick up photographer Richard “Tommy” Campion, who has taken the images on this page. Then we’re off to the Tweed Valley where the landscapes lend themselves to some great shots of the car, and I enjoy negotiating the smaller, curving roads away from the highway.
I never quite get used to the idea that the car will self-lock when I walk away from it with the key. And never get tired of watching the smoothness with which the top goes up and down (and yes, it did rain from time to time).
Wherever we go, the Bentley is the object of admiration. But it’s all good-natured and I’m never tempted to pretend the car is mine for more than a moment….until the very end of the trip, when we’re parked on the Gold Coast foreshore and I’m posing for some photos. A power-walking couple pause and the woman says: “Can I ask you a question? What is this colour called?”
I know the answer. “It’s called ‘Breeze’,” I say.
“Oh, I thought so – just the same as mine!” she replies. “Isn’t it a wonderful car?”
“Yes. Yes, it is!” Just this once, I’ll let the implied ownership stay right there, hanging in the conversation. The couple smile the smile of conspirators in good fortune and walk on.
Each day as I post photos of our travels on Facebook, the responses flow back. Everyone, it seems is smitten and I’m the envy of my friends. And it seems to say it all when I drop my companion off at the end of the trip, and the Bentley bonnet gets a kiss goodbye before I do!
I understand completely. By the end of three days, I’m a convert. There’s just one thing standing between me and ownership of a Bentley GTC V8: the small matter of $498,444.