There wasn't a chance that Bentley was going to diffidently celebrate 100 years of existence, not with the company so successful and the line-up this competitive. Here, therefore, is the third in Bentley's trilogy of Centenary Limited Editions - the other two being the 'Number 9' Continental and the W.O Edition Mulsanne - christened the Number 1 Edition. All are 'By Mulliner' cars.

Based on the new Continental GT Convertible, the Number 1 Edition "encapsulates Bentley's remarkable spirit of achievement during the last century." It aims to evoke the No. 1 4.5-litre Blower of Tim Birkin, the car that sent the Bentley boy around the Outer Circuit at Brooklands in 1932 at an average of 137mph. Pretty brisk now; a feat of engineering wizardry then, and a record that stood for two years.

Perhaps the most tangible link between 90 year-old racing car and new luxury convertible is the wheel spinner in the dash rotating display. Not only does it look like the wheel spinners found in those Bentley icons of the 1920s and 30s, those for this No. 1 Edition have been cast from a piston off the actual car, taken during restoration work.

This is a cosmetic exercise otherwise, No. 1 Edition buyers having the choice of either Dragon Red II or Beluga paint outside, a Claret or Beluga roof and 22-inch wheels finished in Cricket Ball or Gloss Black. Standard equipment for this car includes the Bentley Black Line Specification, Carbon Body Kit, the Bentley Centenary Specification Pack plus the painted front grille like the No. 9 coupe - complemented by an 18-carat gold-plated wing badge. There's more gold inside, along with Grand Black wood veneer, turned aluminium - or 'Engine Spin', in Bentley speak - inlays and Number 1 treadplates. Yes, you read that correctly.

Mechanically this No. 1 Edition is the same as any other W12 GTC, which means 635hp and 207mph. Bentley believes that "the state-of-the-art drivetrain offers a powerful and exhilarating drive, as thrilling as that produced by the original No. 1 when it first took to the racetrack all those years ago." Perhaps a stretch to imagine, though given the convertible Continental appears to be a car as emphatically impressive as the coupe then expect this No. 1 Edition to be mightily good.



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Just one hundred buyers will get the chance to find out how good, with all the attention now on just what Bentley might do on July 10th, the exact centenary date. Those wishing to partake in the celebrations with a No. 1 Edition best get to their Bentley dealer pronto, and with more than ample funds - expect a fair premium over the standard £176,000 a Conti GT Convertible costs.

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