The R2,5-million Continental GT, which was showcased in South Africa this week, has received a special design award from the jury of ‘L’Automobile più Bella del Mondo’ (The Most Beautiful Car in the World) of 2003.

The R2,5-million Continental GT, which was showcased in South Africa this week, has received a special design award from the jury of ‘L’Automobile più Bella del Mondo’ (The Most Beautiful Car in the World) of 2003.

A jury of Italian journalists, designers, stylists, and industry luminaries bestowed the award in recognition of “the development of formal continuity and excellence of workmanship” shown by the Continental GT, reports said.

Dirk van Braeckel, design director for Bentley Motors, said: “This is a great honour for us and further recognition that the Continental GT is not just a beautiful car but that it also has captured the essence of the Bentley Spirit.

“The most critical consideration in the styling of the car was that it should not only be forward looking but also utterly faithful to our heritage. To receive such a tribute in Italy, a country with a reputation for style and elegance is particularly pleasing,” he added.

The four-wheel drive Continental GT is equipped with a six-litre, twin-turbocharged W12 engine that develops a peak output of 411 kW and 650 N.m of torque. Though the engine, mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddle shift, is derived from the similarly-configured powerplant used in the Volkswagen Phaeton, it was designed and developed by Bentley. The factory claims a 0-100km/h time of less than five seconds and that the lavishly-appointed, 2,4-tonne GT will achieve a top speed of 320km/h.

According to a source, Bentley SA has already received 30 orders for the Continental GT. Each of those prospective buyers had to put down a deposit of R100 000 with their order.

Last year, Van Braeckel said that when he designed the car, he “tried to understand where the roots came from and, if you look back at the early days of Bentley, it was all about the engine. They had the appearance of being powered by big engines that enabled them to be driven at high speeds, low revs and minimal effort. And that is as true today as it was then.”

To capture the correct Bentley proportions, it was critical that the GT coupé had a short front overhang and a dominant bonnet, expressed by the unusually large distance between the front axle line and A-pillar, a source for the Crewe manufacturer said.

Given the package of requirements, the dangers of making the car too long and therefore both inelegant and impractical, were clear to see, Van Braeckel said. However, it was equally important that its cabin had a sleek and compact appearance.

Central to the design of the car is its pillar-less cabin. Creating a car with a “B” pillar would have been easy and expected, but the visual delight of an unbroken aperture from the front to the back of the cabin proved irresistible.

The design team was well aware that the headlights and taillights of any car were perceived to be its jewellery, and getting those aspects right proved to be an essential task. The team decided on an oval theme, which has occurred throughout Bentley’s design history, and applied it in a way that was memorable and eye-catching. Most noticeable is the decision to use a four-headlamp appearance at the front, with the inner lamps being the larger pair.

“Not only does this create a striking face for the car, it also acknowledges a time during the 1920s and 1930s when large and elegant headlamps, mounted close together either side of the hood, were the hallmarks of luxury car design,” Van Braeckel said.

This week’s award follows that given to the series two Arnage by the L’Automobile più Bella del Mondo’ panel last year. Since its inception in 1999, Bentley’s design department restyled the Arnage and designed the Continental GT from scratch, and also penned a new state limousine for Queen Elizabeth and created models for the Bentley Mulliner Personal Commissioning department.

Original article from Car