A big Bentley that can go from cruising the streets to hitting the track.

The Bentley Continental R was a one-off, racing-inspired grand tourer that a wealthy Italian commissioned in 1997. At the time, it cost one billion Italian lira – the equivalent of about £500,000 in modern money. In this video from Seen Through Glass, there's a chance to see what being behind the wheel of this unique machine is like.

Carlo Talamo was a Harley-Davidson, Rolls-Royce, and Bentley importer for Italy, so he had some special sway within the automaker. He wanted one of the famous Blower Bentleys, but the price was even out of his league. Instead, he commissioned Bentley to create a modern take on the idea.

Gallery: Bentley Continental R Project 116 video

Using the Bentley Continental R as a starting point, Bentley was able to strip 441 pounds (200 kilograms) out of the vehicle. The exterior tweaks included a bare, brushed aluminium hood with NACA ducts and a hole for accessing the engine oil. Two of the headlights were gone and mesh panels replaced them. The grille got a similar treatment but with yellow-painted radiator fans visible behind it. The wings received a slightly more flared look, too.

Under the aluminium bonnet, Cosworth handled tuning the 6.7-litre V8. The tweaks included a larger turbocharger, more aggressive camshafts, and a modified air intake. This work allowed for an output of 425 bhp (317 kilowatts) and 670 pound-feet (908 Newton-metres) of torque. According to this video, the setup emphasised making the power available for easy passing.

Inside, Bentley stripped out the interior, including removing the rear seats. The company also installed a roll cage and racing harnesses. This was still a Bentley, so luxury was important. As such, diamond-quilted leather covered the newly exposed areas, and there was still wood trim throughout the cabin.

Judging by this video, the Project 117 is fun to drive, but its size makes manoeuvring around traffic on narrow roads a real challenge.