Walk into a Bentley dealer today, and every model you look at has a turbocharged engine. This wasn't always the case, though. The first modern product from the brand with forced induction was the Mulsanne Turbo in 1982. To mark the 40th anniversary of that launch, Bentley staged a parade of 10 important models at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The vehicles in the parade were: 1991 Turbo R, 2001 Arnage Red Label, 2003 Continental R Mulliner Final Series, 2010 Brooklands, 2010 Mulsanne, 2011 Continental Supersports, 2014 Continental GT V8 S, 2022 Continental GTC S, 2022 Flying Spur S, and 2022 Continental GT Mulliner.
Gallery: 40 Years Of Turbo Bentley Models Celebrated At Goodwood Festival of Speed
According to Bentley, the idea behind the Mulsanne Turbo was to boost flagging sales. The company's chief engineer John Hollings came up with the idea of turbocharging the venerable 6.75-litre V8. In the naturally aspirated form, this mill made 198.5 bhp (148 kilowatts), and switching to forced induction increased the output to 300 bhp (224 kW).
The plan to boost interest in the model worked. Bentley collected a nine-month waiting list for the Mulsanne Turbo and built 4,111 of them during the 9-year production run.
Following the Mulsanne Turbo's arrival in 1982, Bentley launched the Turbo R with an emphasis on improving the big sedan's handling. The company just kept iterating on the idea from there. The Continental R debuted in 1991 with an engine boosted to 355 bhp (265 kW).
Power from the 6.75-litre turbocharged V8 increased again for the Arnage Red Label in 1999. The output grew to 400 bhp (298 kW) and a stump-pulling 616 pound-feet. The saloon could reach 62 miles per hour (100 kilometres per hour) in 6.3 seconds.
In 2008, the Brooklands coupe arrived with a twin-turbo version of the V8. The output was now 530 bhp (395 kW) and 774 lb-ft (1,050 Nm) allowing the two-door to reach 62 mph in 5.3 seconds. The one taking part in the Goodwood parade was the final example produced, leaving the factory in January 2010.
Bentley revived the Mulsanne name in 2010. It continued to use the 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V8 now making 505 bhp (377 kW) and 752 lb-ft (1,020 Nm). The example taking part in the parade is the second example assembled from this generation.
The final 6.75-litre-powered Bentley was a special edition Mulsanne in 2020. At this point, the company already had two replacements for it: the 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 and the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. More recently, the brand's hybrid models have adopted a twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 with electrical assistance.